-- Cailyn Blonstein just hit a major milestone: she’s lost 71 pounds.
The 20-year-old journalism student at Quinnipiac University said she was inspired to lose weight last summer after reading the best-selling book “The Shift” by “Good Morning America” contributor Tory Johnson.
She said she sympathized with Johnson’s own struggle to lose weight.
“I understood completely how that would be something to be fearful of so when I read her book, the next day, I just stopped eating junk food and started eating salads and chicken and cut out all the bad stuff that I was eating and making me overweight,” Blonstein said of Johnson.
The college junior kept a blog and took no shortcuts. She monitored her physical activity and water intake and posted pictures of her progress.
"When I started size 20 jeans were super, super tight and now I am in 12s that are getting big,” she said. “And to understand how much weight I had lost, I'll go the grocery store and pick up 70 pounds worth of kitty litter, for example, or 30 pounds worth of bricks. You can't understand how much you lose until you are physically holding it in your hands.”
When Johnson learned of Blonstein’s story, they connected through email and social media. Johnson cheered Blonstein on all the way, and paid her a surprise visit at Quinnipiac to give her a $500 gift certificate to the Gap.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Blonstein said.
Blonstein said she followed a low-carb regimen for weight loss.
“I cut all bread products, so bread, pasta, rice, anything like that, for the first eight months I just cut it all, I didn't have any of it. And as I got further into it, I would have low carb wraps or low carb pita bread and eat that instead,” she said.
When she’s at school, she focuses on diet, eating healthy and walking around campus. She wants to lose an additional 40 pounds.
"I look back and I am like I don't know why I didn't do this sooner,” she added. “I've changed as a person, I've changed how I view things. I've changed my whole personality. It's more than just weight loss."
Blonstein’s father, Bart, has been inspired by his daughter’s success and has lost weight, too.
He said he started out by cooking for his daughter, then eating the same foods that she did.
“And then we'd go shopping and look at the back of bottles and I'd put it down because she would say ‘no, Dad,’ and she got me doing basically the same thing she was doing,” he said.
Bart said he and his daughter support each other through their respective weight loss efforts.
"I wouldn't cheat and she wouldn't cheat,” he said. “From the time I started, I've lost between 50 and 53 pounds."
The difference is evident.
"My body doesn't hurt as much, my knees don't hurt as much. I'm better all the way around,” he said.
Read more about Cailyn's journey in Yahoo Health's Weight-Loss Win series.