After moving out of her parent's house six years ago, Anja Taylor, a 26-year-old from Denton, Texas discovered something many of us can relate to: it's hard to be healthy when no one is around to encourage you. Junk food and late-night food binges became her go-to, and the weight began to pile on. One year later, Taylor weighed 333 pounds.
During this time, she started experiencing a number of health problems. At 20, she was diagnosed with arthritis and at 22, she learned she had polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS.
It wasn't until the end of 2015 that Taylor decided it was time to do something. Her weight was starting to impact her health in more ways than one — her knees were aching, her skin was breaking out, and her periods were irregular.
"When your health is not good, it is really hard to get to the gym. To push your body in the gym is even more difficult than people think," she told TODAY.
Eventually, Taylor started to push herself to exercise — but she took it slow. " When I first started my journey, I walked around my apartment complex for 30 minutes a day for a low impact workout," Taylor told GoodHousekeeping.com. As her confidence increased, so did her workouts. From there, Taylor began going to cycling classes 4-5 times a week. In five months, she lost about 50 pounds.
Then her weight plateaued. "I knew it was time to incorporate a variety of exercises into my fitness routine, so I started going to Zumba classes and strength training," she told us.
To complement her newfound interest in fitness, Taylor also switched up her diet. Because she's busy working and going to school, she needed all the help she could get. This led her to a local meal service company that preps her meals for her, making it easier for her to eat a well-balanced diet.
By December 2016, Taylor lost an incredible 103 pounds. After breaking up with her fiancé of seven years last October, Taylor gained back 20 pounds. She is now working hard to shed the weight (and lose another 50 pounds!).
Although Taylor's journey is far from over, she's noticed huge improvements on her general health and well-being. "Prior to losing weight I was experiencing early onset arthritis in my left knee and was suffering with PCOS," she told GoodHousekeeping.com. "I no longer suffer from these medical issues and am able to live a better life, which is a huge blessing,"
Taylor credits her weight loss to her healthy mindset and focus on changing her life — not just her weight. Realistic goals, along with having people to hold her accountable and finding something she loves to do, are the three things that she credits to her success. "I used to begin my many weight loss attempts by focusing on the amount of weight I wanted to lose," Taylor said. " In 2016, however, I decided to be committed to eating healthy and exercising for one entire month. That allowed me to set realistic goals and form long-term lifestyle habits. "