Army wife drops more than 100 pounds to surprise husband after deployment

(CNN) – Misty and Larry Shaffer have been together since high school. She went to his senior prom; he went to her junior and senior proms. They got married in October 2008.

He never said anything about her being overweight.

When Larry, an Army specialist, was deployed to Afghanistan for a year in 2012, Misty decided she wanted to get in shape.

She weighed about 260 pounds when he left, and less than 155 pounds when he returned.

“I just sat in bed one night and was like, ‘I can do this,'” she said. “‘I need to do this.'”

Shaffer, now 25 and living in Leland, North Carolina, has struggled with her weight her whole life, even as a child.

Each time she had tried dieting in the past, she would relapse. Before she became pregnant with her daughter, Nevaeh, she took diet pills and lost 60 pounds. But all that — and more — came back after she stopped taking the pills. At her heaviest, she weighed around 300 pounds. She’s 5 feet 6 inches tall.

“I would eat when I was bored. I’d eat three huge meals a day, and then snack in between. Sad or happy, I’d turn to food for everything.”

Shaffer felt tired all the time. People picked on her. She wanted to surprise her husband, and work toward a better life for herself and her family.

Her primary mission: Cut out all the junk. She stopped drinking soda, and tried to limit her liquids to water and coffee.

The first three to four months were the hardest, she said. Once she got past that, she started craving more healthy foods and water. It got to the point where, if she drank a diet soda, it made her so thirsty that she didn’t even want it.

Shaffer’s job presented its own challenges; she’s a personal shopper at a supermarket. At lunch time, the hot fried chicken “just smells so good,” she said. But the supermarket also offers a large, well-kept salad bar, as well as warm vegetables on the hot bar and oven-baked chicken.

A typical breakfast for Shaffer is oatmeal with fruit or a cereal bar. On her days off, she’ll cook up sausage, eggs or pancakes, but she’ll watch her portion size. Around 10 a.m. she has a snack, such as fruit or carrots.

Lunch is a salad or half a sandwich with some kind of vegetable or fruit. An afternoon snack might be yogurt.

For dinner, she eats a lean meat (like ground turkey or a boneless, skinless chicken breast), a vegetable and a very small portion of starch.

The big day, Larry Shaffer’s return, was May 15, 2013. The soldier had never seen his wife weigh less than 220 pounds, even in high school.

When she saw him at the airport, Misty Shaffer didn’t know what to say or do. She just ran and jumped into his arms.

Her husband was speechless, uttering only one word: “Wow.”

It was the first time he had ever picked her up. Before, he hadn’t been able to lift her off the ground even a little, she said.

That moment was worth everything.

“A lot of people look at it like, ‘Why is that such a big deal?'” she said. “But (when) you never thought you’d see that moment, that somebody can pick you up … it is a big deal.”

The other big part of the surprise: She had bought a new house while he was away.

Since then, Shaffer has been able to keep the weight off.

When her husband left she was a size 22 to 24; now she can wear a women’s size 6. She’s especially loving how much money she saves on smaller clothes. Khakis, for example, used to cost $80, but she found a pair for her new physique for only $7.

She said her husband’s eating habits haven’t changed much; he likes her cooking, but he’ll help himself to ice cream or cake afterward. Sometimes she will join him. But she’s not too tempted to go back to her old ways of eating.

“I’ve seen how hard I worked, and what I had to go through to get to this point,” she said.

She’s still in disbelief when her husband picks her up.

By Elizabeth Landau

28 comments

    • Joan Birmele

      You look super I am so happy for you keep it up. I know it’s not easy you have to work at it everyday.

  • KH

    Way to go! You look wonderful! Your husband is awesome as well since he never complained and pushed you to lose weight. Wish both of you the best!

  • Gayle Sanders

    Wow! What an accomplishment! You should be so
    proud! Eating healthier makes you feel better and you achieved a great accomplishment way to go!

  • Pauline

    This is awesome but Im surprised the article didnt talk about exercise at all. Changing your diet is huge and very hard but I would be shocked if she lost all that weight without working out at all.

  • Honestly....

    Aww, what’s the matter, Jess? Still fighting that ten-year-old “baby weight?” Maybe you ought to get off your butt and do something about it, instead of making snarky remarks about people who were actually successful.

  • C McB

    Very happy she has been able to make such a huge life change. She’s 25! How do you do it at 60+ when you’re shooting 60 units of insulin every day?

  • Kimberly Stevens Sauder

    D McB: If you are able to lose the unhealthy weight you probably won’t need the insulin. I do know it is so, so hard to lose weight (for me it started after I turned 40). Try the website ‘Trim Healthy Mama’ on how to get started- it makes so much sense and works. My dad lost 40 pounds and he is no longer a diabetic.

  • Kimberly Stevens Sauder

    C McB: If you are able to lose the unhealthy weight you probably won’t need the insulin. I do know it is so, so hard to lose weight (for me it started after I turned 40). Try the website ‘Trim Healthy Mama’ on how to get started- it makes so much sense and works. My dad lost 40 pounds and he is no longer a diabetic.

  • Linda

    I know people who lost that much weight without bypass. All it takes is exercise and eating good. Your comment was totally out of line and appears like a remark from someone who is jealous. I went from a size 18 to a size 8 many years ago and have maintained it. All we did was change our eating habits and joined a gym.

  • A. Houston

    Regardless, of how this young lady lost the weight the end result is she DID IT!!!!! she looks amazing and I’m sure she feels amazing without having to carry all that weight around. I’ve never been one to have a weight problem but, I’m sure it’s a struggle. So, to anyone who wants to loose weight if she can do it so can you. Good Luck!!!!

  • Tim Orr

    I wonder if he liked her when she was bigger woman? Some men are attracted to big women and he married her when she was big….this might the end of the story…

  • Michelle

    Being a former military wife, I know that a vast majority of military wives are EXTREMELY large. Just wondering if his “Wow” at seeing her was in shock or exasperation.

    • Dorothy

      As a current military wife and RN, I’m wondering who you were with to make that assertion? In fact military spouses on average are at or below the national average for obesity. This is not unsurprising as we represent a cross section of America.

  • Dorothy

    Good job! You saved your life and set an example for your little girl! Army Strong means spouses too! You rock girl!

  • jacky

    Wonderful to do this for yourself! You looked amazingly beautiful either way! I’m sure you feel like you can do anything now, especially having small children, which can zap your energy quickly!

  • Kimberly Holloway

    Good for her! I hope she maintains her healthy eating habits.
    When I left the military after 20 years, I went from 115 to 140. I was unhappy, sick and unhealthy. A simple change in my dietary habits and some light exercise made the weight drop off. I do not exercise as much as I need to in the winter, so I watch what I eat very carefully. The largest part of my calories was soda and alcohol. Everything in moderation.

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