When Mallory Manning weighed 340 pounds, she went through a period of denial. “I was like, ‘I’m not that bad,’” the 29-year-old from Marion, Arkansas, tells Us Weekly. Then one day in January 2014, a friend pulled her aside.
“He is a personal trainer and just flat-out told me that I was morbidly obese and close to needing help walking,” Manning tells Us. It was the wake-up call the brunette — who was a size 26 at the time — desperately needed. That week, Manning made the life-changing decision to begin exercising at home.
“My mom had some five-pound weights, and I would do push-ups and planks,” she says. “I used Pinterest to help find ideas.” Because she was embarrassed to be seen exercising outside, Manning would wait until it was dark and then take long walks around her neighborhood.
In two years, the 5-foot-8 emergency dispatcher for the West Memphis, Arkansas, police department has shed 160 pounds and wears between a size 8 and 10. “People don’t recognize me,” Manning tells Us. “Even my own dad has to do a double take!”
But it’s been a long journey: It took five months — and losing 50 pounds — before she was ready to step foot in a gym.
Indeed, today Manning exercises seven days a week for an hour and a half, and says she looks forward to squats and leg curls. Manning’s fitness buddy? Her fiancé, Zac Britton, who has gone from 270 pounds to 180 pounds since the two began dating in June 2014.
As for diet, Manning traded her pizza and Chinese food binges for six “perfectly portioned” meals a day, which she regularly posts on Instagram along with workout pictures.
“Social media helps keep me accountable,” says Manning. “If I post it, then I did it. And it always helps to have friends that are on the journey with you.”
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