This Mom Went from Eating 3 Fast Food Meals a Day to Losing 118 Lbs.

For years, Laura Rosenthal’s metabolism allowed her to indulge in her fast food habit without gaining weight.

“I ate three big fast food meals a day, and my coworkers would tell me, ‘One day that’s going to catch up with you,’ ” Rosenthal, 41, tells PEOPLE for the 2019 “How I Lost 100 Lbs.!” feature.

And soon enough, it did. Rosenthal’s weight fluctuated in the low 200s for years, but she hit a new high — 270 lbs. — after giving birth to her daughter at age 33.

“I was so unhappy with myself and disappointed that I’d let myself get that far,” she says. “I didn’t want to do anything — I’d go to work, come home, kick back on the recliner and look at my phone instead of playing with [my daughter]. There’s hardly any photos of me with her — I’d delete them because I was so embarrassed of what I looked like.”

And even beyond aesthetics, Rosenthal felt like her body was starting to fall apart.

“I reached a point where my body was telling me, ‘I cannot handle this.’ Every part of me hurt,” she says.

In 2017, the Nashville-based office manager needed an ankle fusion to repair an old soccer injury from her more active teenage days that had gotten worse because she was “so overweight.” The complex surgery required fusing her ankle joint to a new bone.

“It’s a very long recovery, and you have to be in three casts and a wheelchair,” she says. “I was crawling around my house, and everything was exponentially harder because I weighed 100 lbs. more than I should have.”

For more on Laura and four more women who lost 100 lbs., pick up a copy of PEOPLE, on sale Friday

In December of that year, Rosenthal decided that she “did not want to spend the rest of my life fighting” her weight. She joined WW and loved that so many of the foods were point-free on the new Freestyle program.

“I could eat a taco salad with ground chicken, black beans, corn and lettuce and it was one point. It felt so livable,” she says. “I felt relieved because I wasn’t hungry, so I felt comforted knowing I can live with this. I can eat a lot of food and not be hungry.”

Rosenthal steadily lost about 3 lbs. a week, and took it “one meal at a time, one day at a time.” After about a year, she had lost 100 lbs. She decided to wait until she hit that mark to start exercising, and now Rosenthal goes for daily walks and does circuit training.

“Yesterday, I was doing burpees, and I was like, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this.’ I’m still shocked that I could go from being in a wheelchair and hobbling on this foot for three months to doing this,” she says. “I just can’t believe it. I really can’t.”

Rosenthal says every part of her life has now improved. She got promoted because she speaks up more at work — “and I get paid a lot more.” She also doesn’t shy away from photos with her daughter, and loves taking her to play in the park or for a hike.

“It is like a weight literally has been lifted off of me,” she says. “I feel lighter about life. I just don’t take things as seriously, I’m not as negative about things. It sounds cheesy to say it, but it’s like everything I wanted I feel like I have now. It honestly feels like a dream in ways, because I am more outgoing, more confident and happier.”

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