Amanda Miller knocks out 222 pounds on her weight-loss journey and keeps going for another round
CHANGE IS HARD. Whether it’s a job, a relationship, or your daily routine, making a change, small or large, can be one of the most difficult challenges we take on. Twenty-six-year-old Winter Haven resident Amanda Miller wanted to lose weight, but it wasn’t until a shopping trip, when she finally reached the point where she was ready to do it. A fan of fashion, Amanda was looking for a new pair of jeans, but she couldn’t find any that fit. “I was really upset and I thought, ‘I need to lose some weight.’”
She began her journey that day in September 2014 at a weight of 488 pounds, a number she never shared with family or friends. Amanda’s youngest sister, Alaysia Miller, had started her own weight loss regimen a few months earlier and had already lost 100 pounds. Amanda asked for her sister’s advice and started walking one mile to two miles a day, depending on what she felt up to. After about two or three months, Amanda had lost approximately 54 pounds. She was working out at Gold’s Gym when a fellow gym goer told her about the weight loss challenge at Tiger’s World Martial Arts, Boxing Fitness in Winter Haven. Amanda knew it was a really intense workout and she didn’t think she would be able to keep up.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over 70 percent of adults’ age 20 years and older, are overweight or obese. It’s a staggering number that has a direct impact on the nation’s health as a whole, leading to an assortment of other ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and osteoarthritis. Amanda, who had played sports in high school and played competitive slow pitch softball, got a dire warning from her physician on the impact of her weight. “My doctor told me when I tore my ACL that if I didn’t lose weight I would have arthritis at an early age,” she recalls.
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery estimated 196,000 people got Bariatric Surgery in 2015. Amanda considered being part of that statistic. Her cousin had gotten a gastric bypass and lost weight, but Amanda’s sister told her not to go that route. Once Amanda lost her first 54 pounds by herself, she knew she could do it. “You don’t need surgery, or pills,” she continues, “just hard work, grind.”
It was an early morning cardio boxing class that would mark a new effort in Amanda’s weight loss. “The first day was so hard that when I got done with the class and arrived home I just sat in my car for 30 minutes— because I was that tired,” she shares. Class instructor Renetta Burke was impressed by Amanda at the start. “When I looked at Amanda and that drive she had, I could see a little bit of me in her,” states Burke. Amanda outworked others who had been taking the class for years. She made up her mind up that she would enter the weight loss challenge.
Her first challenge was the following January. She was hesitant to jump in because she had only been working out for a few months. But she decided to do the challenge and continue with cardio boxing classes. She lost about 68 pounds and won second place in the challenge. The most weight loss ever recorded in a challenge was 70 pounds. Amanda participated in a second challenge and lost close to another 40 pounds. Amanda suffered a setback during her last challenge re-aggravating the same knee she had torn her ACL. But she still managed to lose 27 pounds after that, and eventually 20 more. Her total weight loss while training at Tiger’s World is close to 154 pounds. “It’s been pretty rough, but it has definitely been worth it,” she confirms.
From the beginning, Amanda’s sister Alyasia has been a constant support in her weight loss efforts. In the beginning, they would workout together, grocery shop, and prep food together. Her sister helped Amanda learn how to run. At first, she couldn’t run a block without stopping, but now she can run a mile straight through. It used to take Amanda an hour to run two miles, but now it just takes 26 or 27 minutes. Working out takes a lot of discipline, but Amanda says the toughest part for her is the diet. “It’s really tough to change from French fries and chicken to fish and broccoli.” But, she adds, “I feel cleaner when I’m eating healthier. I definitely have more energy.”
The physical results of Amanda’s efforts have translated into a loss of pounds, and sizes for this fashionista. At her largest she was wearing a pants size 32, now she wears a size 18. She used to wear a size 5x in shirts, now she is wearing an extra large. Numbers matter to Amanda, because they let her know where she is and where she’s going. Even though many people have told her she shouldn’t, Amanda gets on a scale every day. “It keeps me moving. I know where I’ve been and I know where I don’t want to go.”
Amanda began her journey to look and feel better. Two hundred and twenty-two pounds later, she has accomplished those feats, but her ultimate goal is to get somewhere between 180 to 200 pounds. Instructor Renetta Burke explains that “accountability” is the key to success, and Amanda agrees. Her sister also concurs with that observation: “Amanda and I help each other reach our goals by keeping each other motivated and pushing each other harder each and every day.” Alaysia adds, “Consistency is key and that’s what we strive for daily.”
Amanda has persevered with the help of her family at Tiger’s World and, of course, with the support of her sister Alaysia and her husband Victor Brown. Although Brown says she is beautiful inside and out regardless of her weight, he supports his wife’s efforts and is proud of her success. Amanda’s advice for those trying to lose weight is simple: “You just have to stay focused, write a game plan, and go for it. There’s nothing that can stop you.”
story by BONNY JOHNSON
portrait by LUIS BETANCOURT