This Instagram Star Dropped 114 Pounds After Deciding Not to Have Weight-Loss Surgery

Tennessee teacher Laura Micetich stayed motivated by taking weekly photos to track her weight-loss progress. After losing 40 pounds, she began her Instagram account, TheIronGiantess, as a way to stay accountable.

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Name: Laura Micetich

Age: 25

Start Date: March 2014

Start Weight: 304 pounds

Current Weight: 190 pounds

What was the turning point that made you want to lose weight?

After struggling with my health throughout my life, I developed problems with my thyroid. This was a red flag that, while my health might not be in serious trouble yet, I was heading down a dangerous path. After graduating from college, I decided to take charge of my life and make a change.

After trying and failing to get a handle on my health numerous times, my weight had become a serious enough concern that I began the initial stages of researching weight-loss surgery. What initially began as preparation for that surgery very quickly grew into an intense love of health, fitness, and nutrition. Within a few weeks, I'd decided to forgo surgery for a healthy lifestyle.

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Did your weight ever hold you back from experiences you wanted to do?

Yes. I've always enjoyed sports and grew up in a very adventurous family. I'd find myself less excited to go to the beach, and hesitating to participate in activities I was excited about — like parasailing or ziplining — for genuine fear that I might be too heavy. I'd decline hiking outings or long walks because of fear that I'd be too tired to continue. I'd even skip some things as silly as waterslides because of the number of stairs.

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The time passes anyway. How will we choose to spend it?

A photo posted by The Iron Giantess 💪🏼 (@theirongiantess) on

Had you tried losing weight in the past where it didn't work out?

When I was around 13 years old, I asked my parents to allow me to attend a summer camp geared toward developing healthy lifestyle choices in young adults struggling with their health. I loved the camp and stayed focused for a few weeks after returning home, but always fell back into old habits.

This was the trend throughout my young life; diving into a lifestyle change and following through until a setback would derail me or I would lose interest. My family was incredibly supportive and helped me make healthy choices at home. I played some sports, tried to eat healthy, and attempted Jenny Craig. But they didn't stick. I think maybe I owe it to giving up on myself — to the moment when I thought my health was too big a burden to fix on my own.

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I accepted that maybe I needed a smaller goal. For me, that smaller goal was contemplating weight-loss surgery and realizing I needed to prove to myself that I could lead a healthy lifestyle if that was the route I chose to take. I changed when I stopped seeing my weight loss as an unconquerable battle. I stopped seeing it as "100+ pounds I have to lose" and started seeing it one day at a time.

What's one habit that had the biggest effect?

I think that willingness to show up even if it might be an off day. Even if your lifts might not go up... even if you know walking in it won't be the greatest session. I think that's what makes all the difference. That's when you stop thinking of it as a moment that might change everything and start thinking of it as part of your lifestyle. Stop letting "blah" moments or setback derail you — in the gym, on your plate, or at your job — and start seeing them as an opportunity to prove your commitment to your goals. To simply win the battle of showing up. Because some days that's the biggest battle you're fighting. Your goals matter way more than any setback. They matter more than any excuses.

How did your diet change when you were trying to lose weight?

My family's diet was pretty healthy growing up and we always ate dinner together every night. In between those healthy meals, I loved to snack. I struggled with portion control and excessive eating. When I was in college, I began eating out and ordering takeout much more than I should have. I started my journey with the simple formula: exercise and make healthy nutritional choices. I began a weight-lifting program, started doing a bit of cardio, and cleaned up my diet. I ate simple, clean foods and drank almost exclusively water for the first year. In that year, I dropped about 100 pounds.

How do you start each day? Do you have a specific morning routine?

Sometimes I wake up and get myself out of bed just in time for work. I grab a carton of egg whites or a smoothie and I'm out the door. My "gym mode" on those days doesn't start until the afternoon. Other days I'm up at 4:30 a.m., coffee in hand, for a morning workout. For me, getting going happens at any point in the day, but my routine is a little bit of caffeine and a really good playlist.

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What have the best and worst parts of weight loss been?

I was recently walking through the airport talking to my mother and I realized that when I was at my heaviest, the idea of walking from one end of an airport terminal to another would have been excruciating — enough to ruin my day. Now I don't think twice. The best part has been how my body feels. I sometimes take for granted now that I don't ask people to get me things because "I'm already sitting down." My knees don't hurt every day. My ankles feel fine. My back isn't in pain. My body lets me do things I love.

Every day, I ask myself if I want to be healthy. And so far, the answer has been 'yes.'

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The worst part is definitely meal prep. Or the fact that a lot of pants and clothes still don't fit me properly. That's for different reasons now, but I'm constantly trying to shove bodybuilder arms and thighs into work clothes. It's a challenge!

Give us an example of what your meals and snacks look like throughout the day.

Usually I start my day with eggs or a protein-packed smoothie. Meals in the middle of the day are usually protein packed — tuna steaks, ground turkey, chicken breasts — and some greens. And then dinner's a toss up. A lot of salmon is cooked for dinner. I'm always trying to reinvent the wheel to keep food interesting. My snack go-tos are usually raw zucchini, carrots, celery, almonds, walnuts, sardines, or jerkies.

What's your favorite healthy meal?

I'm a huge sushi fan; I'll travel the globe for good sushi. So my favorite healthy meal is sashimi grade tuna and oven-baked broccolini. It's a reward without getting off track nutritionally.

What does your fitness routine look now?

I usually work out six days a week. Sometimes I'm in the gym for an hour and a half, sometimes I'm in there for three. It really depends on how I'm feeling that day and what I have to give. I fell in love with weightlifting right away and have stuck with it. I also love getting some time on the punching bag if I have any gas in the tank after a workout.

How do you keep yourself motivated when you feel like giving up?

The truth is, I don't have a special answer — I stay motivated the same way everyone else does. Every day I wake up and I decide if I'm going to recommit myself to the grind and move closer to my goals. For the last two years, I've decided I wanted to do that. I've known that my body feels so much better being healthy.

Of course I've had days where that involves scraping myself out of bed begrudgingly or having an off day where I didn't show up. We all have those, but my goals have remained the same — be healthy and strong. There were 22 years where my excuses were bigger than my dreams. I understand those excuses. I understand the reasons for not showing up, not putting yourself first. I understand the mentality that being healthy is a punishment, not a reward. I know realistically there may come a point in my life where my excuses again are bigger than my dreams, and that scares me. Every day, I ask myself if I want to be healthy. And so far, the answer has been 'yes.'

A photo posted by The Iron Giantess 💪🏼 (@theirongiantess) on Jun 4, 2016 at 5:26am PDT

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