Woman loses half her size and gains a new life

Kris Kavanagh after losing 160 pounds. / Whitney Gramling

A new report shows South Carolina is the eighth fattest state in the country with 31 percent of people in the state considered obese. More than 60 percent are overweight.

Despite the fact that so many in our state are dangerously heavy, one local woman made a significant change in her life by losing nearly half her size.

Kris Kavanagh lost 160 pounds over the course of two years through research, movement, and healthy eating. Since her slim down she's now transformed herself into a Holistic Health Coach and is helping others reach similar goals.

"I look at the pictures of me now and I say my goodness, is that me? I'm even shocked because when I was in that body I didn't even know that I was that big," says Kavanagh.

She struggled with her weight from the time she was a teenager, "I was sort of a plus size girl maybe carrying about an extra 60 pounds."

Over time she slowly gained more weight and by her mid-thirties she reached her heaviest, 335 pounds. She wore a size 26 in clothes.

"I was a pretty heavy woman and a pretty unhappy woman but I didn't know how unhealthy and unhappy I was until I got healthier." She continues, "I would sit in a chair at work and the sides would kind of poke me, it was uncomfortable. My feet would hurt all the time and swell up from all that weight."

Kavanagh says the catalyst for change in her life was the old cliche, "being sick and tired of being sick and tired."

She began walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day during her lunch break at work. "It wasn't until I just made the commitment to myself one day to educate myself about the foods that I was eating and commit to a healthier life that the changes really started to take effect."

Those changes include significant weight loss, making health a priority, and researching what was good for her body. "Little by little I learned what worked and didn't work and then eventually after doing a enough research I decided to go back to school and learn more about nutrition and life coaching and so I've made a life out of my own healing process so that I could help other people."

Today she helps her clients make slow changes that become a reality and eventually a lifestyle. "It's about feeling good in your body and being free from illness, free from pain, and you know having food in a healthy place in your life where you're not overly obsessing about it."

She says obesity related illness is the number one crisis in America, and needs to be addressed. Kavanagh encourages her clients to prepare their own meals at home because "the drive-thru's are not the easy choice even though they seem to be at the time. Seems like that's the fast most convenient thing to do but they are not the meals specifically designed for a person's body type and digestive system."

For the last year and half Kavanagh has maintained her new figure. Now she has an improved self-esteem and is grateful for the changes in her life.