At 311 pounds, Paula Thomas was suffering from debilitating physical pain due to her obesity.

So the 43-year-old mom decided to embark on a weight loss journey by exercising and following the Atkins Diet — a program that provides participants with simple, low-carb recipes — to get fit for her children.

Since starting the meal plan three years ago, Paula has lost an astonishing 115 pounds!

“I feel like a different woman. I had someone show me a picture of me [before] and at first I didn’t recognize myself!” Paula exclusively shared with ‘Closer Weekly.’

Read on to find out how Paula successfully lost the weight and turned her life around!

paula weight loss before
Paula Thomas

Paula (right) before her 115-pound weight loss.

  • What was your life like before the weight loss?

I was very sad and depressed. I hated my body. I was in a lot of pain; my knees, and back began to be a problem and limited what I could do. I didn’t feel like myself, like I was in another person’s body. I hated that so many people knew and accepted me as big [and] their acceptance just fueled my denial. While in the supermarket one day, I was in so much pain I thought I was going to faint. I was so scared. I knew that day that I had to make a change so I wouldn’t end up disabled by my obesity.

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  • How did you get started with your weight loss journey?

I searched the Internet for weight loss plans. I knew I had a lot of weight to lose and I wanted something healthy but effective. I chose the Atkins Diet when I learned about the [program’s] Quick-Start Kit. [To start], I began preparing my meals ahead of time. I would make chicken breasts and turkey loaf and I tried different Atkins recipes to keep me interested. I finally decided to use my treadmill that had become a glorified clothes hanger. In the beginning I could only walk for five or ten minutes before being in pain, [but] as I continued, I found myself going longer and at higher-intensity intervals.

paula weight loss after
Paula Thomas

Paula after her weight loss

  • What were the most difficult aspects of losing the weight?

Surprisingly, the most difficult part was the mental change, not the physical change. I had to change my mind, how I thought about food and most importantly, how I thought about myself. I had to learn to love myself enough to not mistreat my body by overeating and eating the wrong foods. When I needed extra motivation, I remembered my girls and how I never wanted to become a burden for them over a health condition that could be prevented.

  • How does it feel now that you’ve lost the weight?

I feel like a different woman. I never dreamed I’d wear a size 10. I don’t ever remember wearing that size. At my largest I wore size 24 pants. I had someone show me a picture of me [and] at first I didn’t recognize myself! I said, ‘Oh she’s pretty and she looks a lot like me!’ It wasn’t until I recognized the decor in the background and recognized that it was my living room that I realized it was me! I was like ‘OMG, I’m so skinny!’

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