By Sarah Francis
An obese mum’s race to shed half her body weight saw her burn through THREE treadmills running in front of the TV.
Tara Kavanagh, 35, tipped the scales at 304lbs when a close friend died, shocking her into reclaiming her health.
The stay-at-home started running 2-4 hours while watching TV at home and lost 145lbs in a year.
Now she is a trim 159lbs and hopes to coach others too.
Tara from Rapid City, South Dakota, said: “As soon as I learned to drive, I was always hitting up fast food restaurants and going out to eat late at night with friends.
“Looking back, most everything I ate was processed and packaged in some way.
“When I first started losing weight I made a deal with myself that I could only watch TV if I was walking on the treadmill, even if I wasn’t walking very fast.
“I burnt out three treadmill motors that way but it definitely helped me lose weight because I used to watch a lot of TV.
“It took me a year and a half to lose 145 lbs and I did it all in my living room on my treadmill and doing at home DVDs.
“I don’t let my size hold me back from doing things I want to try anymore.
“I’ve done some amazing things I would have never been able to when I was bigger, like skydiving, swimming in the ocean, traveling, going to yoga retreats, hiking with my family and more.”
Tara’s weight issues started early on in life as she battled with emotional eating.
She said: “My favourite foods to eat growing up were macaroni and cheese, double cheeseburgers, and any baked goods.
“I loved to bake and made cookies all the time.
“I remember in grade school being self-conscious I was bigger than my friends.
“Being overweight runs in my family so I thought I was destined to be big all of my life.
“I was never very active and was a big emotional eater, so that also was a big factor in my weight gain over the years. Food was what I looked forward to. It made me feel good.”
However, her weight affected her social life and left her battling mental health problems.
She said: “Being overweight was always on my mind.
“It held me back from doing activities with friends, trying new things, even going to school.
“I had terrible depression and anxiety from worrying about my weight. I avoided social situations as much as possible and declined offers to do fun things because I was ashamed of my size.
“When I was big I felt I was just existing and not really living my life.”
The turning point came when a close friend passed away and Tara had to reevaluate her lifestyle.
She said: “It made me realise life was short and we never know when our time is up.
“I didn’t want to die young from obesity related problems. I wanted to be a good example for them and be an active, healthy mum.
“I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life being miserable about my weight and worrying about my health.”
Tara was prescribed metabolism boosters and an antidepressant to combat emotional eating which she took until she had healthy habits in place.
She said: “I used these medications short term to teach me how little to eat and how much I needed to move to lose weight.
“Then as the weight came off I learned more about healthy eating and started swapping in more nutritious food.
“I kept track of my calories and made sure to burn more during the day than I consumed.
“I have also become addicted to working out.
“It is a habit for me just like brushing my teeth. I can’t get in the shower unless I’m a sweaty mess first.”
Now the mum practices yoga and works out at a gym.
She added: “Losing weight has changed my whole perspective on life.
“When I look at old photos I wish I could have told that girl everything I know now so she would have made these healthy changes earlier in life.
“But back then I would have never believed I would look and feel like this.
“It definitely makes me want to help others to realize there is hope and you can always take control of your health, even if you think it’s impossible.
“The smallest change can make a huge difference. You just have to start somewhere.”