Nebraska Teen Loses Half Her Body Weight

PHOTO: Natalie Strawn, center, and her mother, visit the set of "Good Morning America" to talk about her weight loss.
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Natalie Strawn of Omaha, Neb., had struggled with her weight since childhood.

"I was a depressed child growing up, so I used food as comfort," Strawn, 20, told "Good Morning America." "I didn't have any friends but I had food, so I ate."

"I would make nachos and I would take half a can to a whole can of refried beans, a whole bag of chips, whole pound bag of cheese and smother it in ranch dressing and that would be my breakfast," she said of her typical eating routine.

By sixth-grade, Strawn weighed 333 pounds, and as her weight increased, so did the bullying at the hands of her classmates.

"I would hear 'tub of lard,' I would be mooed at, that was what hurt the most, being mooed at when I walked down the hallways. I'd be called Shamu [the whale] if I was swimming at the local pool in the summertime. … I was bullied so bad. … I started being home schooled and when I turned 16, I dropped out and decided to get my GED," she said.

By age 17 and standing at 5-foot-10 inches tall, Strawn weighed more than 550 pounds. She had difficulty walking, and couldn't learn to drive because she couldn't fit behind the wheel of a car.

"When you're 562 pounds, they don't make cars for people that size," Strawn said.

Finally, she decided that she had missed out on enough. Determined to change her life, she joined Weight Watchers. She attended weekly meetings, set small, 5-pound goals and chronicled her progress online in a video blog.

"The thing I like about the plan I'm doing is the freedom and flexibility it gives me," Strawn said of her success with Weight Watchers. "There's no food that's off limits so I can eat basically whatever I want. I just have to watch the portion control."

Strawn also began to exercise, something she says was almost impossible at first.

"It wasn't until I lost about 100 pounds that I could start exercising," she told "GMA." "I started doing chair aerobics and it was 18 minutes long and it was the longest 18 minutes of my life. The first time I did it I was so out of breath and I was drenched in sweat."

In the course of three years, she lost 282 pounds and, today, is far removed from both the exercise restrictions she faced, and the size 44 jeans she used to wear.

"Now I walk, I do a 2-mile DVD exercise every day," Strawn said.

Despite already losing more than her body weight, Strawn says, she'd like lose another 100 pounds.

"My dream weight is 168," she said, adding that 382 pounds is the total amount of weight she'd like to lose.

Helping Strawn achieve her goal in the past three years has been her mom, Rita, who has been on a weight-loss journey of her own, losing nearly 100 pounds herself.

"My mom, and I'm determined," Strawn told "GMA" of the two sources where she finds the strength to continue her weight-loss journey.

With the prospect of attending college now in her near future, Strawn's goal is to become a nutritionist and one day work for Weight Watchers. She hopes her story is an example to others struggling with their weight as she once did.

"I don't like things that are hard, so if I can do it, anyone can do it," she said. "I'm determined.

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