After being embarrassed on a flight, this woman lost 100 pounds –

Posted: August 4, 2017 at 8:42 pm




These days, 33-year-old Leandie Williams loves to travel and explore the outdoors she recently went zip lining in Asia, and often goes hiking and swimming near her home in South Africa. But four years ago, those feats were nearly impossible.

Williams, who lives in a town called Port Elizabeth, was on a flight to Johannesburg for work when she realized she couldn't fit the seat belt across her lap. At the time, she weighed 275 pounds.

Leandie Williams before she embarked on a journey to lose 100 pounds

"I was too embarrassed to tell anyone that the seat belt didn't fit and I was scared that alarm bells or something would go off," she told TODAY. "The flight attendant walked past and I kind of covered it up, so she couldn't see it wasn't fastened."

"Just knowing that it was my fault, that I'd compromised my safety, was a big thing for me," Williams continued. "It probably made the biggest impact on me to change my life. I'd been overweight for about eight years, but I didn't know it had become so bad that I couldn't fit in chairs anymore."

There were other signs that her weight was a serious problem: Williams had recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, she was having trouble finding pants that fit and she couldn't walk more than a few steps without getting winded. She'd also gotten some tough love from her closest friend: her mother.

Leandie Williams after losing 100 pounds.

"She was the only one who was honest with me," Williams said. "She said, 'You need to do something it's out of control. You're so overweight.'"

"I was livid, so angry," she continued. "I looked at her and said, 'How could you say this to your child?' Everyone else, they lie to you: 'You're great the way you are.' That's good and well, but if it affects your health, it's critical (to change)."

Four years later, Williams' weight fluctuates between 175 to 183 pounds. Her weight-loss journey isn't over, but she's come a long way. After the flight, she got a personal trainer so she could learn her way around the gym, and traded fast food for a high-protein, low-carb diet of home-cooked meals.

Before losing weight, Williams ate mostly fast food. "I don't enjoy cooking, but I find it helps me stay on track," she said.

"I don't enjoy cooking," she said. "I find it a waste of time, but I know it will help me in the long run."

The gym was the hardest part, she said.

"It's very difficult to work out being so overweight, because you have no strength," Williams said. "I started training with my own body weight and recovery was very tough for me. But it just got better."

And the weight fell off quickly, at first. She soon lost over 60 pounds, but then plateaued and had to switch up her routine. Williams found that heavy lifting, as opposed to cardio, helped her the most. She also joined's online community for accountability and to discover new workouts.

Now Williams spends her weekends exercising, going on hikes and swimming.

Now Williams wakes up every day at 4 a.m. and hits the gym for an hour before getting ready for work. She sits at a desk all day for her job as an administrator, so the workouts are especially important. But the effort is worth it: Now Williams can shop at regular stores for clothing, go mountain biking on the weekends and best of all, she can travel without worrying about the seat belt on planes.

Williams has also noticed something she didnt expect: how people treat her differently after she lost the weight.

People are more open to talking to me, she said. Its like people were afraid of me when I was overweight. People are more accommodating now. It doesnt feel fair. People didnt give me a chance back then. Guys, lets say I had a crush on them, they wouldnt give me the time of day...It puts me off, people like that. But its also humbled me. I wont treat overweight people badly, because Ive been there. I can relate to them.

What it's really like to lose 100 pounds Play Video - 1:01

What it's really like to lose 100 pounds Play Video - 1:01

Williams shared her top three tips for losing weight.

Williams said getting a trainer was a huge help in kick-starting her own transformation. So many people go to the gym and they dont know what to do, she explained. But when you know what to do, and where to go, you have so much more confidence when you walk in there.

Social media helped Williams with accountability and following like-minded people reminded her of her goals. Choose people to follow that will motivate you, she said. It will help so, so much.

The only competition is yourself," Williams said. "When people fall off the wagon, they think they should give up. But it happens to all of us. It doesnt help to dwell in the moment. Life happens. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward.

For more inspiration, check out our My Weight-Loss Journey page.

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After being embarrassed on a flight, this woman lost 100 pounds -

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