Tara McGinty was overweight for most of her life, but it wasn’t until she was diagnosed with a disabling autoimmune disease that she decided to transform her life.

McGinty developed unhealthy eating habits in childhood and still remembers being bullied because of her weight.

She’ll never forget the time she was in middle school and a ketchup dispenser exploded onto her shirt. Seeing that McGinty was mortified, covered in the bright red sauce, her friend offered to lend her a t-shirt to change into, but it was too tight.

“I never ate at school or in front of people again,” McGinty told PEOPLE.

She started skipping lunch and would starve herself until school went out at 4 p.m. Once she got home, she’d start binging, eating everything in sight until it was time for her to go to bed.

As she got older, McGinty kept gaining weight, eventually tipping the scale at 260 pounds, and it started to take a toll on her.

The now 33-year-old mom of two was so exhausted from carrying around all those extra pounds, she’d often have to nap several times a day.

A life-altering diagnoses

After McGinty began experiencing excruciating pain in her joints and found herself unable to hug her kids, she made a trip to the doctor’s office.

She was told she had rheumatoid arthritis and doctors warned her that she could eventually be confined to a wheelchair.

The devastating news sprung her into action. While she had no control over the disease’s progression, McGinty found the motivation to take charge of what was in her power: her weight.

Motivated by her will to feel better


Her initial goal was to lose 100 pounds. She discovered Isagenix dietary supplements and decided to give the protein shakes a shot. In just a matter of days, she started feeling her energy levels improve.

She started working out regularly, doing high-intensity interval training, and made changes to her diet, in order to reduce inflammation.

Since the beginning of her weight loss journey, she’s lost 120 pounds, which has made her arthritis pain easier to manage.

Now weighing 138 pounds, McGinty focuses on getting stronger, so she can enjoy the best quality of life possible as she gets older.

Best of all, she’s able to hug her children.

“Nowadays I get all the hugs I can and they can even wrap their little hands all the way around my body.”