This article originally appeared on people.com.
Food was always there for Diana Anguh — when she was happy, sad or just plain bored — but her fast food-filled days pushed her weight all the way to 275 lbs.
“I was constantly sneaking food,” Anguh, one of our 2017 Half Their Size stars, tells PEOPLE. “I would buy a whole box of pizza and eat it all by myself really quickly so no one knew, and hide the boxes under my bed. Or I would go to McDonalds and buy a bunch of stuff from there and eat it in my car, and then roll down the windows and spray air freshener.”
“When no one’s looking at you, you just eat more and more and more.”
Anguh, now 24, hit her highest weight as a senior in high school.
“My self-esteem was really low,” she says. “I didn’t think I was beautiful. I knew I had a weight problem, and I really didn’t understand that to look a certain way, you had to work for it. I was just like, ‘Oh, God blessed other people and he gave me this body,’ not realizing that no, the boxes of pizza and the fast food is what gave me this body.”
Anguh hit her breaking point at prom that year.
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“I was just standing there in my prom dress, I didn’t have a date. And I looked over at my friends and they all looked so beautiful with their dates. I was thinking to myself, ‘Diana, this is going to be the rest of your life, always feeling uncomfortable. You’re not happy right now, and you’re never going to be happy unless you do something about it,’ ” she says.
Right after prom, the Silver Spring, Maryland-based Anguh joined a gym and started going every day, sometimes twice a day.
“After about two months of going to the gym, I was eating less, but I wasn’t strict about it. But I said, ‘Okay, now it’s time to control your mouth by eating less.’ If I had a pizza, I would just have one slice. And then the weight started melting off,” she says.
She also started cooking her own meals instead of relying on take out, and hit her goal weight of 135 lbs. in sixteen months.
Six years later, Anguh has maintained that weight, even while going through culinary training and becoming an executive chef.
“I learned how to cook all these unhealthy foods in school, but that helped me because I could figure out how to swap butter and cream for things like coconut oil,” she says.
“My life has drastically changed — I feel like I’m more confident in going for what I want.”