In many ways, Lexi Reed’s Instagram and Twitter handle says it all: @FatGirlFedUp. When she began sharing her story a few years ago on social media, she didn’t know she’d end up with more than a million followers — including celebrity trainers like Chris Powell — and the popularity of her posts is still a source of amazement.
“I guess I broke the Internet,” she says, with a laugh. “It is funny that when I first started on this weight-loss journey, a friend suggested I put it on social media and I said no way. I’m not sharing what I look like with the world. But she said so many people are trying to transform and looking for inspiration, and then I understood it.”
Reed’s own transformation began as a 2016 New Year’s resolution with her husband, Danny. The Terre Haute, Indiana, residents wanted to have a child, but Lexi knew at her weight — 485 pounds at that point — getting pregnant would be a struggle, and even if it happened, a healthy pregnancy would be another big challenge.
She was also feeling the limitations her size brought: not being able to ride a roller coaster, sit in a restaurant booth or even drive her car without considerable discomfort. When she went bowling with friends, she pretended she had to go to the bathroom so they wouldn’t see her struggle to tie her shoes.
“The fact that Danny and I resolved to do this together, and that we had a big reason [to do so was] very helpful, especially on all the days when I didn’t feel motivated,” she says. “In the beginning, that was most days. But we had a mantra of ‘baby Reed,’ so we could remember why we wanted to get healthy.”
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Now 29 years old, Reed says neither she nor Danny has a family history of weight issues but admits she’s been an emotional eater her entire life. After they met in 2007 and started dating, Danny began gaining weight as well, mainly because they would spend most of their free time on the couch watching TV and grazing on food for hours.
“Before that resolution, I ate fast food for every meal,” she notes. “I had no idea how to cook, and I wasn’t able to walk a block. So I really was starting from zero, basically.”
Fortunately, in addition to Danny, she had a strong support system. A friend challenged them to go to the gym for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, and they began sticking to that schedule. Reed fell in love with the elliptical, since it allowed her to move without hurting her joints.
Another friend recommended tracking her food with MyFitnessPal, and she and Danny started doing that from the first day of their weight-loss journey.
“The app has really helped me, just tracking my calories, and adjusting my food based on that,” she says, adding that she learned to cook more meals at home and turn her former “guilty pleasures” into healthier versions. For example, she still enjoys pizza and tacos, but she’s developed versions that are heavy on the vegetables and lean protein, a big difference from her fast-food days.
At this point, Danny has lost 95 pounds, and she’s down to 190 (a whopping 295 pounds lost!) and is working on losing more weight. She’s also had skin surgery to deal with the excess skin that was affecting her mobility.
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Another big win: riding the roller coaster at Harry Potter World.
“This is just life-changing,” she says. “I was aware of my limitations because of my size, but now I can see how much it was really affecting me. I wake up now and I’m not exhausted, I can move and not be out of breath, I simply feel healthy when I never really did before.”
As she and Danny kept transforming, their Instagram presence exploded, and she ended up being featured in multiple magazines. In 2018, L’Oréal sent the couple to the SAG Awards to embrace the theme of “strong women.”
“The attention has been kind of crazy, but I think it’s good because people have said, ‘You inspired me to go the gym, you inspired me to eat healthy,’ and that’s all I wanted from the start, to be healthier and show other people it can be done,” she says. “If there’s one message people can learn from our journey, it’s that big changes require small steps and lots of time. But if we can get there, others can, too.”
Originally published March 2020
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