Most of us have, at one point or another, embarked on a diet after vowing to shed a few pounds. We launch into a saintly regime of carb-cutting, sugar-detoxing, salmon-eating and sweaty pavement pounding, and for the first few weeks, we feel smug and sensational.
Unfortunately, though, most of us have also fallen off spectacularly off the weight loss wagon; it starts with '"just one cookie", which before long turns into a whole packet, which before long turns into "just a cheat day" and then a cheat week. Before you know it, you're back to square one. It happens to the best of us.
One woman who knows this cycle all too well is Laura Micetich, a 27-year-old teacher who is better known online as The Iron Giantess.
Having always been slightly overweight, at 22 years old she found herself bigger than ever, weighing in at over 300lbs - that's almost as much as a fully-grown giant panda - and experiencing a whole host of health problems including hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, and pre-diabetes. She was, in her own words, slowly killing herself.
She knew she had to do something drastic.
“After trying and failing to get a handle on my health numerous times, my weight had become a serious enough concern that I was considering weight loss surgery,” she said. "I decided to take charge of my life and make a change." And to say she made a change is quite an understatement.
It all started with a last-ditch attempt to do things without the need for surgical intervention, which saw Laura try once more to fall in love with the gym - and this time it worked: "What initially began because of consideration for weight loss surgery quickly grew into an intense love of health, fitness, and nutrition”, she said. "In the first year, I shed more than 100 pounds without surgery and significantly changed my unhealthy habits."
So how did she do it?
They say that to commit to the gym all you need to do is find something you enjoy enough to stick with, and Laura found that for her it was lifting weights: "It only took a few weeks for me to realize that I didn’t need to go under the knife. I needed to get under the bar," she revealed.
Nowadays, she also adds in a regular dose of cardio, saving her favorite TV shows to watch in the gym and keep her occupied while she's on the treadmill, or cranking out 45 minutes on the stair master.
Changing her diet was also a big step in Laura's weight loss journey: “I ate lots of clean foods and removed all starches and processed sugars. I stopped eating out. I stopped getting takeout. I stopped buying junk at the grocery store. I stopped having alcoholic drinks with friends. I stopped binging on crap. That was it.”
For Laura, the health benefits of losing the extra pounds have been enormous:
"I no longer teeter on the edge of pre-diabetes. I’m free of hypothyroidism and blood pressure problems. I carry loose skin around my midsection that does not make me a candidate for heart disease. When I look in the mirror, I have stretch marks, cellulite, and other imperfections. The woman in the mirror is a friend. I’m 26 and heading down a road of self-acceptance, personal growth, and physical and emotional well being", she writes on her Instagram.
But there was still one last change to make...
In June 2018, Laura underwent surgery to remove the loose skin that inevitably comes with significant weight loss; traveling across the country to receive specialist care from a doctor she felt comfortable with. Although she is still recovering from the operation, the difference is already clear to see.
Despite her understandable enthusiasm about the operation, she has a clear message for people who turn to her for advice saying that they would want to lose weight but fear ending up with saggy skin: "Loose skin will never outweigh a longer life."
All of this isn't to say that the transformation has been easy, however, and Laura's mental change has also been significant: "I grew up heavy. I also grew up a ball buster. So there was no chance I was going to admit I was insecure about my appearance," she writes, adding: "I played it cool and a lot of people bought it."
Today, she's only too happy to admit when she's having an off-day, saying on her Instagram that: "I think sometimes life isn’t about learning who you are. It’s about unlearning all the things you thought you were supposed to be. Don’t be afraid to start over. Don’t be afraid to change, to grow, to adapt, to adjust..."
With over 340,000 Instagram followers, giving advice is actually something that Laura has become pretty used to over the past few years.
She's even set up her own YouTube channel to compliment her other social media channels, vlogging honestly about topics including how she got started on her own weight loss journey.
The Iron Giantess on the challenges she faced getting started:
In addition to posting inspirational messages to her Insta, Laura now also has her own website, on which she dishes out advice to help others wishing to lose weight to "find [their] inner giant", including healthy recipes, workouts, and other pearls of wisdom that she's discovered during her own journey to health.
It's got to be said that this is a full-on lifestyle change, rather than a diet, but between improved physical and mental health, higher energy levels and a smoking hot bod, it's clear to see the incredible impact that the decision to get into shape has had on Laura's life. She's an inspiration to all of us!