Ali Shinn was on a family vacation in the Florida Keys in 2014, when she saw a picture of herself in a bikini, sitting by a pool, with her back turned to the camera and broke down in tears.

“I couldn’t believe that it was me,” she told Yahoo.

“When I got back from that trip I made a promise to myself that I would get healthy and be that happy kid who was so full of life again.”

Things started to change once she hit puberty

“The summer after middle school I went from a 5‘9”-beanpole to a curvy woman,” she said.

She’d gone from being a self-proclaimed tomboy to getting unwanted attention by her peers because of the way she looked.

Ali struggled with depression and her body image all through high school, and turned to her laptop and food for comfort.

“I’d spend hours tucked away in my room on the internet or playing The Sims and eating until eventually all my ‘curves’ went away,” she remembered.

By the time she was 16, she weighed nearly 200 pounds and started feeling the consequences of her lifestyle choices.

“I lost the stamina I once had, my clothes didn’t fit how I wanted, and I was just uncomfortable with myself,” said Ali.

She tried losing weight several times but it wasn’t quite at the top of her priority list.

She struggled to make a change

“In college I partied too much and fell into the routine of eat, sleep, drink,” she said.

She spent hours at the gym, trying to stay in shape, but the weight kept piling on until she reached 266 pounds.

“At that point, I had stopped caring and just pretended I wasn’t that big. I’d tell everyone I was 180 pounds, throw on my bikini, and put a smile on my face,” said Ali.

But after she caught a glimpse of herself in the photo her stepmom took of her on vacation, she knew something had to change.

“I wanted to be able to chase my pups and not get winded. I wanted to hike and swim and run (and be good at it). I wanted to put on clothes and feel good in my own skin,” she continued. 

I made a promise to myself and haven’t stopped since.

Small changes led to big transformation

Ali knew that she’d have better luck losing weight by making small, consistent changes, so she started by cutting back on her drinking.

“I had been in such a depressive state for so long that I was drinking all the time. Cutting down was a huge step in the right direction for me,” she said.

After a couple weeks, she began taking her dogs on hour-long walks every day and quickly noticed the weight starting to come off. 

It was until 2015 that she started making changes to her diet. She tried keto, weight watchers, calorie counting and fasting, but nothing stuck.

Ali eventually decided not to restrict herself and to eat what she wanted, while she focused on making healthier choices and controlling her portions.

Feeling confident, she was ready to build strength and discovered her love of at-home workouts after a friend introduced her to Beachbody.

When I tell people how I lost weight, I tell them I learned how to eat a piece of pizza instead of the whole pie.

What Ali’s journey can teach us

She’s lost 90 pounds and continues to workout at home and walk her three dogs every day.

She’s found that cutting out heavy drinking, walking her dogs every day, and increasing her water intake; the habits she built early on in her weight loss journey, are crucial to her success.

“I can eat pretty badly, but if I maintain those three things my weight doesn’t fluctuate much,” she said.

Ali still struggles with emotional eating but it’s something she constantly works on to overcome.

“Losing the weight helped me figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life,” she said.

Every day I feel a little closer to the person I truly am.

More transformation stories: