How she dropped almost 50 pounds and got healthy

Our January issue is devoted to living well, with tons of helpful tips on being fit, happy and healthy. So we're featuring stories from real women-women who've gotten healthy and made themselves over in a magnificent way. Here is Richelle Antczak McCuen's story.

Name: Richelle Antczak McCuen

Age: 36

Residence: Clinton Township (Northwest Columbus)

Gig: Membership director for 90.5FM WCBE

Family: Married since 2006 to James. We have a 4-year-old son, Jamison.

Weight lost: Beginning weight was 183.5. Current weight is 135. Lost = 48.5 pounds

Inches lost: Not sure; I have lost nearly 50 pounds, going from a size 16 pants to a six and a size XL shirt to a small.

Motivation: I suffered from a severely underactive thyroid (Hashimoto's disease), secondary infertility and emotional eating. At 5-foot-4 and nearly 185 pounds, I was considered obese. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I wanted to feel likemeagain.

My emotional transformation started in January 2010. After three years of self-help and reflection, I was emotionally ready to work on my physical-self.

My physical transformation began in April 2013. Since then, I have lost nearly 50 pounds over the course of nine months with the help of Jody Riley, a registered dietitian at Central Ohio Nutritional Center.

Workout regime:I began by riding my bike with our 4-year-old son accompanying me in an attached child seat. I started in Spring 2013 with one mile rides and eventually, at the end of the summer, was riding 40 miles per week (10 miles, four times per week).

In late summer, I decided to try running. I began with a two and a half mile run (rotating walking/running every quarter mile) and eventually worked myself up to six mile runs. I continued to do this through Fall 2013.

Once the outside temperatures dropped and the days got shorter, I began taking Zumba classes, working out on my elliptical at home, and doing Sportskool cardio classes (available through Time Warner On Demand). I now try and incorporate at least 30 to 45 minutes of exercise into my daily routine.

Favorite one-hour workout: Zumba!

Diet: I am currently still in my weight loss process, so I follow a low-calorie diet monitored by Jody Riley, a dietitian at Central Ohio Nutrient Center. (Only seven pounds left to lose!)

Favorite healthy snack: Angel hair tofu shirataki with salsa. A full serving of shirataki is only 40 calories!

Greatest challenge:Emotional eating (eating due to anxiety, boredom, or stress) is something I continue to work on controlling. After three years of self-help and reflection, I have learned how to recognize when I am displaying this type of behavior. I now manage my emotional eating through keeping a food diary (MyFitnessPal) and exercise.

Most exciting success: Sure, the weight loss is fantastic! Who wouldn't call losing nearly 50 pounds my greatest success?! I can run, play and take my 4-year-old son on 10 mile bike rides without feeling exhausted for days.

But the greatest gift I have given myself throughout this entire journey isme. I left all my insecurities behind-all outside expectations and perceived judgment and concentrated on me, on my wants, my desires and needs.

Today, I am a much happier person. I consider my most exciting success seeing the person I knew I could be-the person who I felt I really was- reflected in the mirror.

Best advice:Transform your emotional-self first, and your physical-self will quickly follow.

How your life has changed, in one sentence: Throughout this process I have learned to recognize and believe in my full potential, living each day as my true self.