Francelina Morillo—a former contestant on The Biggest Loser—weighed 350 pounds when she graduated college. She remembers looking in the mirror then. “I was in shock. I couldn’t believe how much I had let myself go,” says Morillo. Sick and tired of being ‘sick and tired,’ she decided to change her life that day. “I decided I was no longer going to let myself be a victim of circumstance and watch my life pass me by. So just like that, I never looked back. It’s been about four years since that day.” (Check out more of The Most Inspiring Weight Loss Success Stories of 2014.) These are the strategies that got her where she is.
Focus on Non-Scale Victories
Morillo has forgotten about the numbers on the scale. Her journey has been powered by “little non-scale victories, like making better choices at restaurants and social events.” Morillo doesn’t have an answer when people ask her about her goal weight. “I can tell you that the actual number on the scale means so little to me now. I tell people, ‘I just want to be a badass!’ I want to run faster, for longer, lift heavier, and I simply want to do all those things that I could not do before because of my weight. I have a new lease on life and I intend on using it!”
Morillo approaches social situations much differently now. “In the past, I would eat just to please those around me. Even if I wasn’t hungry, I’d eat because I didn’t want to make the host feel bad. Now, I have so much control. I’ve gained the courage to finally say ‘no.’”
When she’s going out with friends, Morillo makes sure she can find something on the menu that fits into her new lifestyle—or she speaks up. “My health is a priority now and I am not afraid to tell that to others. I honestly feel I am empowered constantly by the choices I make and I don’t see myself changing that anytime soon,” says Morillo.
Share Your Story
As a contestant on The Biggest Loser, social media played a big part in Morillo’s weight loss journey since the beginning (or middle, as she lost 100 pounds on her own before arriving at the ranch). “I think what has happened to me is a perfect example of the positive impact social media can have. I have so many amazing followers who have kept me going through my entire journey,” says Morillo.
After losing about 155 pounds, Morillo was left with excess skin, and when it was time to have it removed, she turned to her social networks. “I fundraised for my excess skin removal surgery [via GoFundMe] and a lot of the donations were made by perfect strangers. This surgery has changed my life. I couldn’t be more grateful. I encourage people to start an Instagram because you will definitely find a community of people working towards a common goal: self love!” (Great weight-loss tip! Check out more 22 Ways to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight.)
Morillo’s current go-to workouts include running and Crossfit. She completed her first half-marathon in 2013 and has been obsessed ever since. And when she’s not pushing herself to reach a finish line, she’s training to lift heavier and picking up new tips at Crossfit. “The group of people [at Crossfit] changed my life. They were like family to me and taught me so much about nutrition. I initially went there for a good workout and found so much more. Going out of your comfort zone is so important. You end up learning so much more than you expected.”
Feed Your Sweet Tooth in a New Way
“Food is fuel and in this present time I feel like we have forgotten that,” says Morillo. She still craves sweets, but she satisfies the craving with different foods. “Quest Bars have been life-changing. A perfect way to ‘cheat clean.’” Morillo values the products and the company’s social mission as well: “They are constantly sharing people’s stories and motivating people to change their lives and to look at food differently.” (Here are 9 tricks to Fight Food Cravings without Going Crazy.)
To read more about Francelina Morillo’s amazing weight-loss journey, and find out how her life has changed, pick up the Jan/Feb issue of Shape, on newsstands now.
By Shape Editors