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Catching Up With The Biggest Loser Tamara Harbison

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Ask any weight loss champion what the most challenging part of their new life is and they will likely say maintaining the new weight they struggled so hard to achieve. So we decided to check in with Tamara Harbison, the 27-year-old North Carolina waitress who revealed how she lost a whopping 125 pounds in 9 months exclusively on ESSENCE.com two months ago. Read on for our update with the southern belle to find out how she's been since our last story, what shopping for summer clothes is like this year, and how she has learned to deal with stalkers.

ESSENCE.COM: Welcome back! What have you been doing to maintain your extreme weight loss?
TAMARA HARBISON:
I'm consistent with my exercise routine. I exercise five times a week for one hour at the YMCA. I recently joined and I love it there! Occasionally I exercise twice a day depending on my mood. Some days I run, I take Pilates, get on the treadmill, take basic training classes, play tennis, skate, jump rope, swim and the list goes on. I mix things up for two reasons: one, it keeps me interested in exercise because I get bored very easily. Two, my body responds better and burns way more calories when I exercise different muscle groups everyday.

ESSENCE.COM: And what about your eating habits? Can you share what you ate today?
HARBISON:
I don't do one day on and one day off dieting. The way I eat and exercise is my new lifestyle. I start eating at 7A.M. and I have my last meal at 7 P.M. I very rarely eat any later than that. Here's a snapshot of what I ate today:

7 A.M.: oatmeal with Splenda, butter, raisins, and cinnamon with grapefruit, a piece of turkey sausage and water
10 A.M.: grapes, a granola bar, Fuji apple, hot tea
1 P.M.: spinach salad with turkey, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, cucumbers and my homemade secret recipe Italian dressing, a few saltine crackers and water
4 P.M.: a pear, strawberries, a handful of chocolate rice cake bites and water
7 P.M.: baked salmon, squash, zucchini, and brown rice with a little low-sodium Teriyaki sauce on my rice as gravy and water

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ESSENCE.COM: That sounds delicious! So are you enjoying summer shopping for your new slim and trim physique?
HARBISON:
I started buying clothes for the summer and it has been lots of fun. I have to start thinking like a size 4 now instead of a size 24. I've finally gotten used to shopping in regular stores and the selection is huge! The problem now is controlling how much I buy. (Laughs.)

ESSENCE.COM: Tamara, your story received an overwhelming response from our audience and has inspired countless people. I understand folks have attempted to reach out to you in "interesting" ways as a result.
HARBISON:
Yes, since your first story, literally thousands of people have contacted me. I've received letters, e-mails, Facebook friend requests and phone calls. One lady called my cell number which she obtained by tracking down several of my sister's friends. Private companies, TV and radio stations, newspaper and [other] magazine publishers have also reached out. It's very humbling and gratifying to know that I've inspired so many people. I'm writing a book and planning motivational speaking and workshop events nationwide later this year. Those interested can e-mail me at tharbison125@gmail.com.

ESSENCE.COM: One recurring question in the comments of your first story is ‘How were you able to lose so much weight so quickly without the sagging skin most women are left with after a tremendous weight loss?' Please respond.
HARBISON:
I come from a family of faith. We believe in the power of prayer. It always makes a difference in my life. My mother and I consistently prayed about my skin and God answered. While God was working on my behalf in the supernatural I was doing my part in the natural. I made it a point to lose weight the right way by diet and exercise only. I took no pills, had no surgery, and never starved myself.

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