By Samantha Joseph
JENSEN BEACH -- Four years ago, Angela Moore Hodge was a secret binge eater who struggled to lift her 250-pound body out of bed.
Severely overweight, she feared she might succumb to diabetes, a disease that left her grandmother a double amputee and plagued several other relatives.
By the time she was in her mid-30s, she needed to count to three and rock her body to gain enough momentum to get out of bed each day.
"The weight was literally crushing me," said Ms. Hodge, who has since shed about 135 pounds through diet and exercise.
"I used to sweat through suits, just standing there during presentations. One weekend I went to buy a suit and it was a size 24. I said, 'I can't do this. I'm 35 years old and I'm killing myself.'"
That moment was a turning point, which would lead her on a path of good nutrition and daily activity, eventually whittling her body to about half its size and introducing her to the world of competitive body building.
"It's OK to not be happy with yourself, but you have to find what will make you happy. You can't just wallow in it," she said. "I can do anything. And it's not just me. It goes for everyone."
Her journey got off to a rocky start that threatened to derail her plans.
For three months she exercised with no weight loss, until she hired a trainer and changed her eating habits.
Instead of skipping breakfast and starving herself before lunch, she now eats within 30 minutes of waking up and consumes about five small meals each day.
High-calorie sandwiches, sugary smoothies and double portions of chicken parmesan in lieu of carbohydrates have given way to a meal plan that balances carbs and proteins and focuses on moderation.
"I used to be eating for three and had a poor relationship with food. I didn't understand," she said. "I thought I needed to starve in order to lose weight, that if I didn't eat carbs I could lose weight, or if I worked out every day I could sneak in a few poor choices and be OK.
"I was carrying a huge a percentage of fat," she added. "Nearly half my body was fat, so I had no ability to burn fat. Really, I was a fat maker."
Her larger body led to discomfort during exercise, requiring Ms. Hodge to redouble her commitment.
"Socially it was also difficult. People are either going to love you for it and support you or they're not. I had to realign my social life and make changes to achieve my goal. I changed some of my relationships to be around people who lived the same lifestyle," she said. "It's a personal journey."
Since her weight loss, Ms. Hodge has become a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a certified sports nutritionist with an office in Jensen Beach, with an emphasis on fat loss and sculpting lean muscle She also owns theFitanista.com, a website and blog that focuses on health and fitness.
Last month, the woman who once struggled with her weight took home the fifth-place prize at the Amanda Marinelli Gold Cup Bodybuilding Championship, a show by the National Physique Committee.
"I wasn't the hardest or the best body on that stage, but I believe I got my trophy because I was on top of the world," Ms. Hodge said. "I got that trophy because my spirit shone through on that stage."
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