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Published November 01, 2012, 11:35 PM

Holt: West Fargo woman breaks free from weight

FARGO – It wasn’t until Steph Rinehart faced her fears that she was able to lose the extra 170 pounds she’d been carrying for 20 years.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

FARGO – It wasn’t until Steph Rinehart faced her fears that she was able to lose the extra 170 pounds she’d been carrying for 20 years.

Once she hit rock bottom, she felt ready to overcome her past and create a new life for herself.

“It took me a long time, but I did it,” the 44-year-old West Fargo woman says with a smile.

The winter after their father died, Steph and her older sister started a low-carb eating plan. They quit drinking, cut out pop and limited junk food and candy.

“My philosophy that I adopted from day one was, ‘I can either have this, or nothing at all,’ and I would always choose something over nothing,” she says.

Instead of regular soda, she drinks Pepsi Zero Max or Diet Sunkist. For sweets, she’d rather have grapes or strawberries. She eats peppers like they’re apples.

“Whenever someone’s thinking weight loss, they’re thinking ‘diet,’ a temporary change to get a permanent result. You have to permanently change how you look at food and how you look at exercise, and the temporary of that is getting used to it,” she says.

Steph dropped 30 pounds in the first 45 days.

“It worked, and I didn’t think it would,” she says.

She built on her initial success with “Walk Away the Pounds” DVDs she borrowed from a co-worker. Then she joined a gym, where she hid on the cardio machines in heavy clothes.

“I kept doing that for a year. I got myself from 307 down to about 230 pounds,” she says.

At that point, she didn’t know where to go next, but she’d been watching a trainer work with people of all ages, sizes and shapes.

“The scariest thing I ever did was walk up to him and ask for help,” she says.

If she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have met one of the two men she calls her “angels.”

Steph trained with Josh Lambert for about two and a half years at two different gyms. When Josh moved out of state, she paired up with his friend Joe Ketterling, now of Joe Fitness in Fargo.

“I wouldn’t be here without them. They’re my angels. I did the work, but they engineered it,” she says.

Josh helped her go from 225 pounds down to 145 and from a size 22 down to an 8.

“Some people make an imprint in your life. He made a permanent imprint in my life,” she says.

Steph has been training with Joe for three years now and has no plans of quitting.

“Trainers push you to work as hard as you can. I like having someone to coach me and keep me honest,” she says.

She paid for her personal training sessions by consigning her old clothes.

At her heaviest, she wore 26s, 28s and 4XLs. Now, depending on brand and style, she’s in sizes 0 to 6 and smalls.

“I think I had one pair of jeans in 20 years of being overweight. Now I have probably 20 pairs,” she says.

It took time for Steph to adjust to her new appearance.

“Looking at my face, I didn’t see the thin person. I still saw the fat girl,” she says.

Throughout her transformation, she learned that it’s OK to be thin and that it’s OK to like how she looks.

“I started to feel like a woman again and not a monster,” she says.

When she plateaued or got stuck in a rut, Steph switched up her routine.

In the past six months, she stopped doing hours of cardio and started focusing on resistance, interval and circuit training.

“I wasn’t doing enough weight lifting. I was overdoing it. I was in the gym for so long every day, and it wasn’t really doing me any good,” she says.

Breaking free of her weight, literally and figuratively, has changed Steph’s outlook on life.

“There’s no such thing as can or can’t; there’s will or won’t. I will never go back to being morbidly obese or overweight, and I won’t live in the past,” she says.

Steph’s advice

  • If you want something bad enough and work hard enough for it, you’re going to get it.

  • Don’t worry about what other people think or say; it’s your life.

  • Get to the heart of why you were the way you were.

  • Look in the mirror, and like the person you see – flaws and all.

Do you have a weight-loss story to tell? Email me at mholt@forumcomm.com.

Forum reporter Meredith Holt has lost 105 pounds since May 2010. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.