Tara Sol refused to accept her diagnosis and was in denial about her weight for years, until she reached a breaking point and finally made the commitment to transforming her life.

“I’d only ever known being overweight,” Sol told PEOPLE.

She grew up in a home where pre-packaged microwavable meals and drive-thru pickups were the norm.

Sol remembered food was used for comfort and family bonding involved going out to an all-you-can-eat buffet on Fridays.

“We’d just sit in front of the TV and I’d eat a half a bag of chips or a box of cookies, or popcorn,” said the 36-year-old mother of six.

It was also how her father showed affection and rewarded his children.

“It was getting us a candy bar when we’d go through the cashier line—he would always do that sort of stuff for us. If I got a good report card, I got to choose my restaurant for dinner.”

Transitioning into adulthood — with comfort food

As an adult, things started getting out of control when she started sneaking food and eating it while no one was looking.

“I would grab a handful of cookies and eat them and then it would be time for us to have dessert and I would eat it,” said Sol. “Nobody knew I already had the four cookies.”

At her heaviest weight, she weighed 261 pounds, and simple everyday tasks were becoming increasingly challenging.

“Walking for five minutes was a challenge,” she says. “I couldn’t even bend over to tie my own shoe. That’s how overweight I was.”

In denial over health

In denial about her health, she actively avoided doctors visits for several years, but as a social worker employed by a hospital, Sol was required to see a doctor regularly for routine blood work.

Following one of her usual check ups, Sol’s labs revealed her blood sugar levels were dangerously high and a full round of testing confirmed a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis.

“I was in significant denial about my condition and though I took the medication, I did not change my diet or tell a single person about my diabetes diagnosis,” she said.

Things got especially bad when she stopped going to see her doctor. Luckily for Sol, she kept refilling her prescription medication for a couple of years, but it didn’t last forever.

An unexpected turning point

Everything changed for Sol when she hit her ‘rock bottom’. After receiving a letter from her doctor notifying her that she’d stop prescribing her medication if she didn’t come in for an office visit, Sol knew it was time to make a change.

She immediately signed up for an online weight loss program that gives members access to exercise programs, a personal coach, diet monitoring and online support groups.

Sol went to see her doctor and asked for an extension on her prescription re-fill, and told her about her new wellness goals.

Not wanting to jeopardize her success, Sol initially set herself realistic goals which included workouts she could do at home. After only three months of participating in the program, her Type 2 Diabetes was reversed.

“My doctor actually called the lab to make sure it wasn’t an error,” Sol says. “My labs were just so different in just that three months.”

Looking back at the little bits of progress she was making gave her hope and she was determined more than ever to finally get her health on the right track.

“I was getting these tangible, actual, true things that were validating what I was doing and it fueled my fire and I just also wanted to obviously keep going and getting better and better. I made this commitment to my doctor and I wanted to show her I was keeping my end of the deal.”

In less than a year, Sol lost 114 lbs. Today, she stays active and works hard to maintain her healthy eating habits.

She credits her husband and children for supporting her throughout her journey and is grateful that she’s inspired healthy food choices within her own household.

“I want to be a role model,” she says. “They’ve gotten an understanding of what a healthy lifestyle is by being able to watch my transformation.”

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