“My weight was my prison. Now I am free.”

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Despite what Instagram tells us, weight loss is about way more than before and after photos, numbers on the scale, and gym selfies. If you’ve ever seen an episode of TLC’s My 600-lb. Life, then you know shedding weight can be life changing.

If you haven’t caught this dramatic (and seriously addicting) show, every episode documents a person’s weight-loss journey, from weighing more than 600 pounds to losing it with the help of bariatric surgery and serious lifestyle changes.

To prove that it’s absolutely possible to reach your weight-loss goals no matter how far you have to go, we’ve rounded up a few of their unforgettable stories. (You can catch new episodes on TLC on Wednesdays at 8/7 central.)

Before: 605 lbs
After: 222 lbs

“I decided to undergo weight-loss surgery because I was legitimately sick and tired of being sick and tired. I knew that there had to be more to living than what I was doing, which was just existing. I wanted to be able to travel, have a family, and be the wife that my husband deserves. I felt I had more to offer myself, friends, and family than just having them help take care of me. I was too young to feel so old. I needed to participate and be a part of the world. I once told my best friend that I am too fabulous to be this un-fabulous.

“The biggest change that I have made, obviously, is what I eat and how I eat. But it does go a little bit deeper than that. I no longer look at food to solve my problems or to make me feel better. In order for me to stay focused and continue to live this amazing new life,  I choose to love myself and to be happy. I stay on course because I have worked too hard to get my life back. I also go to counseling. I believe that if I had not gone through the counseling before, during, and after losing weight, then I would not have come as far as I have, nor would I continue to succeed.

“Since losing weight, I am able to do things I have always wanted to do. I am no longer angry, upset, or feel the need to hide. I am able to live a life that is true to me. I knew when I started this journey that my life was going to get better. But, I had no idea that my life was going to be this amazing! My weight was my prison. Now I am free, and I can do whatever I want whenever I want. My life is an amazing life, one that I could not even have imagined it was going to be. I am going to take every moment and cherish it. It is still hard sometimes, but I will take this hard over ‘my 600-pound-life’ hard any day.”

RELATED: 9 WOMEN SHARE EXACTLY HOW LONG IT TOOK THEM TO LOSE 20 POUNDS OR MORE

My 600lb Life
2/4 PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MY 600LB LIFE
MELISSA MORRIS, SEASON ONE

Before: 653 lbs
After: 235 lbs

“I wish I could say I decided to lose weight to get healthy or to have kids, but the truth is my mom had surgery and we found out she had cancer. I could not get to her hospital bedside because of my weight, which was devastating. Once they sent her home from the hospital she was bandaged up, still had her hospital bracelet on, and wanted to know if she could get up to make me food. That was the turning point for me. I knew that day that I would do whatever I had to do to have weight-loss surgery.

“The things that helped me stay on track after getting weight-loss surgery are weekly support meetings, weighing in every week, not bringing my trigger foods into the house, working out, and watching the amount of food and the quality of food that I eat. These are just a few of the things I do. I also want to set an example for my children to see what it’s like to be healthy.

“Losing weight has given me a life. Now, I am a mom of three. I go shopping, go to the movies, go out to dinner and eat in restaurants, all things I couldn’t do if I didn’t lose weight. I play outside with my kids and sometimes you can catch me running. I never realized what I was missing until I started losing weight and enjoying life. My weight loss has made my dreams come true.”

RELATED: 8 LITTLE CHANGES THAT LEAD TO MAJOR WEIGHT LOSS

My 600lb Life
3/4 PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MY 600LB LIFE
NIKKI WEBSTER, SEASON FOUR

Before: 649 lbs
After: 236 lbs

“I decided to have weight-loss surgery because I thought that life was not meant to be as difficult as it was. We all live with pain and have trials to overcome, but being 650 pounds felt like my obstacles were never ending. My only outcome was death and I wanted to live. I wanted to rebuild everything my weight had taken away from me. That gave me the fire I needed to start losing weight and getting healthy.

“My amazing support system is the reason I’ve been able to lose weight. My family, friends, and colleagues have shown me love and encouragement throughout this process. Overall, the most significant change I’ve made is incorporating exercise into my life. But now on days when I’m not able to walk or work out, my brain doesn’t feel as clear as it could be. Over time, exercise has become more about how it makes me feel rather than something I had to do to lose weight. I never, ever thought I would feel excited about exercise.

“My weight loss has impacted my life in every aspect possible. It has changed the trajectory of my future, and I feel like myself again. Though I still have many things I need to learn, I am well on my way to being the woman I want to be. I’m comfortable with myself and excited about what’s to come. But mostly, losing weight has instilled pride and confidence in me.” (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women’s Health’s 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)

My 600lb Life
4/4 MY 600LB LIFE
CHRISTINA PHILLIPS, SEASON TWO

Before: 708 lbs
After: 171 lbs

“I made the decision to start my weight-loss journey when living became too hard. Getting up and walking just a few feet made me feel like I was going to die. I couldn’t drive, walk far, or go out with friends and family. I was miserable, and I knew I had to do something.

“I had a gastric bypass in 2013. It definitely wasn’t easy, but after learning about proper nutrition, measuring my portions, and sticking to a certain way of eating, I have reached and maintained my goal weight. I stay on track by staying away from simple carbs, such as soda, sugar, chips, and processed foods. I make sure I log everything I eat so that I’m staying accountable as well. I also meal prep most of my foods so everything is ready, and I’m not mindlessly grazing. Making sure I get at least 10,000 steps per day and going to the gym at least four times per week has also helped me maintain my weight.

RELATED: 5 THINGS THAT HAPPENED WHEN I TRIED TO WALK 20,000 STEPS A DAY

“My life has changed so much since the weight loss! I can do things I never imagined possible when I weighed more than 700 pounds. I’ve been able to try indoor skydiving and I can keep up with my 3-year-old nephew, too! I can walk miles without getting tired. And that’s a long way from when just a few feet made me feel like I was dying.”

Image Credit; Source: womenshealthmag.com

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