Real life weight loss: How this Illinois woman lost over 200lbs safely and sustainably

Wendy Miller could "barely move" at 430lbs, but after four years of hard weight loss work, she lost 220lbs for good

Wendy Miller Real Life Weight Loss
(Image credit: Future)

A dramatic weight loss transformation has changed the life of a woman who was once so big she could “barely move”. 

Wendy Miller, of Loves Park, Illinois, weighed 430 pounds at her largest, but after losing 188 pounds thanks to a combination of careful diet and the best exercises for weight loss, she was left with an incredible amount of excess skin. 

Wendy told our sibling channel Truly: “In the beginning, I never thought I could have lost this much weight. At my largest I could hardly move. I just didn’t want to be alive. I had twin girls and at 430lbs, I couldn't keep up. I would try to lose weight many times, and I would gain it all back, plus a little more.” 

Wendy credits her family and friends with helping her turn her life around, particularly fellow weight-loss warrior Tina Jacobs, who became an irreplaceable support for Wendy. But even with Tina’s support, it wasn’t an easy road for Wendy, who had established long-standing unhealthy eating habits. 

Watch Wendy's inspiring weight loss journey here:

She explained: “At 430 pounds on a typical day of eating I would eat pancakes or waffles for breakfast and I would also eat candies and cookies and processed boxed meals in extremely huge quantities.” 

Wendy’s weight began to drop in 2015 and since then she has had ups and downs, gaining weight back and losing it again. She began heading to the gym and doing weight training with a personal trainer, using cable machines, free weights and a multi-gym to change her body composition ratio—the ratio of muscle to fat to bone in your body. Generally speaking, a lower fat and higher muscle content signifies a fit person. 

If you don't want to go to the gym, multi-gyms are included on our list of the best exercise machines to lose weight. Alongside ellipticals and rowing machines, they can help you build muscle in addition to burning calories, raising your base metabolic rate.   

Unfortunately, the massive weight loss left Wendy with a large amount of excess skin, which made everyday life very difficult. “Having excess skin is really debilitating,” she explained. “You feel trapped, encased.” 

In 2019, Wendy underwent her first procedure to remove the loose skin around her stomach, and the results have been life-changing. The four-hour surgery removed 10 pounds of skin and meant Wendy could finally lead a more normal life. She used to be able to hold a plank, one of the best workouts for abs, for less than a minute due to the excess skin weighing her down. Now she can hold it for four and a half minutes. 

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.