Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Before weight loss, 'Every beat of my heart hurt'

By Alisha Ebrahimji, Special to CNN
August 5, 2013 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Christie Morgan celebrated her daughter Brielle's 7th birthday at a pizza place in Lubbock, Texas. Morgan says she thought she weighed 334 pounds at the time but was shocked when she later found out she weighed 403 pounds. Christie Morgan celebrated her daughter Brielle's 7th birthday at a pizza place in Lubbock, Texas. Morgan says she thought she weighed 334 pounds at the time but was shocked when she later found out she weighed 403 pounds.
Feeding my soul, not my stomach
Feeding my soul, not my stomach
Feeding my soul, not my stomach
Feeding my soul, not my stomach
Feeding my soul, not my stomach
Feeding my soul, not my stomach
  • Doctors encouraged Christie Morgan to have gastric bypass surgery, which she resisted
  • When she was 45 years old, Morgan weighed 403 pounds
  • She says she didn't want to be an observer of life anymore but a participant
  • In two years, Morgan has dropped 289 pounds without surgery

(CNN) -- A picture is worth a thousand words -- but for Christie Morgan, those words weren't worth remembering.

When she was forced to pose for photos at her niece's Sweet 16 party in 2008, she realized just how overweight she really was. If she didn't make a drastic change, she knew she wouldn't live to see future family milestones.

At the time, she weighed in at 403 pounds.

Because of her body size, she struggled throughout everyday life. She couldn't walk more than a few steps in her own home, get out of a car or fit in airplane seats.

"I swear, every beat of my heart hurt," Morgan says. "Any moment could be my last, and I felt one morning I simply would not wake up."

Morgan grew up in a large family where every occasion centered around food. Every birthday, anniversary, graduation or accomplishment was an excuse to consume authentic Italian food.

She wanted to be a role model for her daughter, Brielle, now 18, but says it was difficult enforcing a healthy diet when she wasn't following one herself. When Brielle had parent-teacher days at school, Morgan refused to attend because she didn't want to embarrass her daughter by being "the fat mom."

Debunking diet myths
Summer foods for weight loss

"When you are that large and that miserable in your body, you feel like you're a failure to your children, your parents and society," Morgan says.

Doctors told her the only way to lose enough weight to be at a healthy BMI was through gastric bypass surgery.

Her friends constantly told her she wouldn't be successful if she didn't get professional help.

Morgan says she considered both, but ultimately she wanted to shed the pounds on her own naturally.

"I felt just from watching surgery-goers, their body changed, but they weren't all that healthy," Morgan says. "They could continue to eat the junk, just not as much."

In the past, she had tried almost every single diet fad known.

"Either I failed them, or they failed me, I just don't know," Morgan says.

So she decided to look at weight loss as a challenge to her doctors and herself, not as punishment. Days after seeing pictures from the birthday party, Morgan sat down and formed an eating plan.

She took elements of other diets and her knowledge from nutrition classes she took in college and created her own diet plan. Lean meats and fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, KIND bars and unlimited water are essentials during the day.

Christie's weight loss tips:

1) Don't think of your weight loss journey as a diet or punishment.

2) Stop focusing on why you "can't." Focus on why you WILL.

3) Reward yourself with a gift that fills your heart instead of your tummy.

Morgan says she didn't want to feel deprived as she did in other diets -- she wanted a way to eat cleaner and feel full at the same time.

"I love cooking and entertaining," Morgan says. "I needed to find a way to cook my favorite foods healthier, not cut them out entirely."

She says exercising was a challenge in the beginning, but starting slow allowed her to keep realistic goals.

"The first day of exercising resulted in me breaking a "Total Gym" machine because I exceeded the weight limit," Morgan says. So she steered clear of the gym to avoid being ridiculed by strangers.

"It's not about investing in supplements, gym memberships, programs or diet plans," she says. "For me it was about investing in myself, my health, my mind and my body."

In two years, Morgan has shed a total of 289 pounds. She now weighs 114 pounds.

She says looking back at pictures, she can see the sadness in her eyes. The smile on her face was a facade to hide from how she truly felt about her body.

"Perfection is knowing that I am the best I can be in every way," she says. "And now I'm no longer an observer of life, but a participant."

Have you lost weight? Share your story on iReport

Part of complete coverage on
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
Jen Corn was the heaviest she had ever been. But when her mom and aunt offered to pay for surgery, she said no.
September 8, 2014 -- Updated 1859 GMT (0259 HKT)
Angela Baldwin can pinpoint the day she changed the course of her life forever.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Yusuke Kirimoto was always overweight. But relatives calling him a sumo wrestler was the last straw.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Robert and Jessica Foster lost a total of 280 pounds after an emotional conversation. See their amazing transformation and how they got healthy.
November 10, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
Sarah Evans was miserable on her 30th birthday. She went on to lose 120 pounds.
April 28, 2014 -- Updated 1707 GMT (0107 HKT)
Inspiration can come from unlikely places. Brian Flemming found the will to change his life in a drawing game.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1118 GMT (1918 HKT)
Nina Osegueda was 19 and around 180 pounds when she remembers her boyfriend saying the thing no boyfriend is supposed to say.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1855 GMT (0255 HKT)
At 27, I weighed 486 pounds and decided to have gastric bypass surgery. You might be thinking: "Oh, you took the easy way out." Not true.
February 3, 2014 -- Updated 1757 GMT (0157 HKT)
In the end, a coupon changed Torrie Creamer's life, helping her drop 145 pounds through grueling workouts.
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1857 GMT (0257 HKT)
Misty Shaffer lost 100 pounds to shock her husband when he returned from an overseas deployment.
January 27, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
Gabi Rose wore maternity clothes for more than 12 years. Now she's a size 2. And her family has slimmed down too.