Woman Who Lost 393 Pounds Wants to Inspire Others

By ABC News

Feb 28, 2014 9:03am

ABC News’ Jen Pereira reports:

Val McLeod has been fighting a war on weight for her entire life.

At her heaviest, the 54-year-old Atlanta woman said she weighed about 620 pounds.

Some days McLeod would eat more than 30,000 calories – including fried chicken, cookies, chips, ice cream and soda – in portion sizes that were large enough for three people.

“My doctor just told me, you’re going to kill yourself,” McLeod said in an interview with “Good Morning America.”

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McLeod’s weight took its toll on her joints, and they started to break down under the pressure. By the time she was in her mid-20s, McLeod was using upholstery fabric to make clothes.

“I couldn’t find clothes. I had gotten so large that I no longer could fit in clothing from the full-figured women stores,” she said. “We would just roll out as much fabric, yards, as I needed and put elastic in the waist.”

McLeod has since lost 393 pounds after making a commitment to health and wellness.

“It wasn’t like I was eating and eating and didn’t care about it, I tried dieting and it worked, I’d lose a few pounds, then I would gain those pounds back and more,” she said.

Her wake-up call came when, in preparation for a gastric bypass surgery that would ultimately fail, she had to be weighed on a freight scale.

I went to a nutritionist who helped me figure out what proper portion sizes were,” she said. “I also started seeing a therapist, because weight loss and being overweight is as much mental, psychological as it is physical.”

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And she slowly started to incorporate exercise into her daily routine. When she first started walking, McLeod said, she could “barely even go a block.”

She now weighs 227 pounds, and it took her 25 years to do it. She still wants to lose 50 pounds more.

Her eating habits have undergone a significant change. She no longer eats processed food, preferring a diet of fruit, vegetables and fish.

Now an author and motivational speaker, McLeod hopes her journey will inspire others. She has a Facebook page dedicated to sharing her story and has also written the book, “EmpoWord.”

“Make one change that’s healthier and the body is so intelligent, I say the body has a brain, it will respond to anything you do for it that’s in the right direction,” she said.

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