Niki Tuck, 22, 5’3″, from San Diego, California
Before: 175 lb., size: 18
After: 112 lb., size: 0/2
Total lost: 63 lb.
Total sizes lost: 8/9
Niki’s wearing: Adidas tank (adidas.com for similar), Nike sports bra ($35; nike.com), and Champion leggings ($35; target.com) for similar styles.
I grew up being the fat, funny friend, always feeling like my personality had to match my size. By senior year of high school, I weighed 160 pounds and was ready to make a change. Hoping to become a new and improved Niki, I moved from New York to San Diego for college in August 2013. Since people out west are active and outdoorsy, I assumed I would be, too; I also thought I’d kick my junk food habit. The problem: My meal plan gave me access to every fast food chain on campus. In two months, I gained the freshman 15 on top of my already overweight frame.
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Finding what works
By spring semester, I realized my size was making it hard for me to get around. Fed up, I began logging an hour and a half on the elliptical early each morning in the empty campus gym. I dropped 20 pounds in three months. Unfortunately, I also tried several fad diets, which resulted in a year of ups and downs on the scale.
So I spent the summer before my junior year studying body-building sites, learning from fitness influencers, prepping meals, and eating clean. By August, I was down to 138 pounds, and for the rst time ever I liked my reflection in the mirror.
Falling for fitness
I continued to strength train five or six days a week during my junior year and entered a 12-week body transformation challenge in January 2016. I didn’t win, but my preparation brought me down to my lowest weight: 109 pounds. These days, I’m still lifting weights and eating right. I’ve also added hikes around Cowles Mountain to my regimen. Five years ago, I’d never even gone to a gym. Freshman year of college, I’d show up at dawn, too ashamed to be seen. Today? I’m taking sweaty sel es and loving it.
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Four tricks that helped Niki get in the best shape of her life
1. Scale down. Buying a food scale was critical for me, since I always overate. Weighing my meals helped me learn what a proper portion size actually looked like.
2. Share your success. I used to love seeing people’s progress pics on Instagram; they made me feel like change was possible. I now share photos of my own transformation on my account, @nikituck, hoping to motivate others who are on a weight-loss journey.
3. Choose a motto. My favorite quote is from George Bernard Shaw: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.” This pushed me to keep working toward my goals and reminded me that I could make whatever I wanted of myself.
4. Go ahead—splurge. I’m all for indulging, because the occasional blowout teaches my body to appreciate the healthy foods I typically eat. My go-to splurge? Mexican food, always.
As told to Anthea Levi