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No Looking Back: Robins employee loses more than 70 pounds in 52-week weight loss journey

Loretta Rayford, a production management specialist in the 411th Supply Chain Management Squadron, gets in a workout at the Fitness Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Loretta Rayford, a production management specialist in the 411th Supply Chain Management Squadron, gets in a workout at the Fitness Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Loretta Rayford, a production management specialist in the 411th Supply Chain Management Squadron, shows off her weight loss at the Fitness Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Loretta Rayford, a production management specialist in the 411th Supply Chain Management Squadron, shows off her weight loss at the Fitness Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- For Loretta Rayford, a production management specialist in the 411th Supply Chain Management Squadron, the desire for lifelong change came months before New Year's resolutions for 2015 ever came to mind.

Rayford began mentally preparing for her weight loss journey in fall 2013. It wasn't long before her thoughts turned to action. 

"I was really looking for someone that I could identify with, who had gone from a thought to action," she said. "I began to search all over social media for photo types that would ignite me."

Rayford said it wasn't until she began to reconnect with people from her hometown through social media that she found her inspiration to truly change.

"After many years of starting and stopping, finally my heart and my mind got in sync which created the desire; yes, the fire was lit," she said. "I now humbly hold up my torch in victory to a healthier me."

Initially, Rayford aimed to lose 50 pounds.

"I wanted to be the weight proportionate to my height and over all, I wanted to be fit," she said. "I wanted to get rid of the outwardly imperfections I identified with my body."

Once she met that goal, she knew there was no stopping now.

"When I had reached that milestone, I was overjoyed and partially threw the continued work out of the window," she said. "I knew I wasn't where I wanted to be, but I couldn't afford to stop."

Rayford realized she had begun a journey in which she had to face the truth about herself and ultimately, she had to make a permanent lifestyle change. 

"I had a goal in mind as for weight and clothes size, but I really imagined myself being fit and healthy," she said. 

Rayford accepted that she fell short many times before, but she committed to doing what worked and would enable her to succeed.

"I had to figure out how and why I gave so much of myself to others and gave nothing to myself," she said. "Surely, I am worthy of three hours."  

Rayford began to take advantage of the three hours the government allows for its employees to exercise.

Incorporating the Wingman Concept, Rayford teamed up with a couple of women at the base gym and put her weight loss plan into action. Along with following her personal exercise regimen, she enrolled in Robins Fitness Center Aerobics instructor Rhonda McKnight's class.

"She's phenomenal ... awesome," McKnight said. "She comes to class and when she's there she puts in 100 percent plus all the time, always in the front row working it as hard as she can."  

McKnight said Rayford accomplished her weight loss goal the right way, by making a full lifestyle change.

"She has a family to take care of, but she always makes time to get in her work out," McKnight said. Rayford's approach included changes in eating habits and exercise.

She increased her water intake, ate things she enjoyed by controlling portions and eating off a small plate, filling it with healthier choices like veggies, whole grains, and grilled/baked protein/fish. 

Next, Rayford began exercising at home, later incorporating walking, and eventually including classes such as Zumba, boot camp, hi/lo, kickboxing, water aerobics, strength training and races. 

Her effort paid off, with a 72 pound loss in 52 weeks.  She encourages others with weight loss goals to never give up.   

"I see people come and go all the time. I see people who come all the time and really don't put in the effort that's needed to accomplish the goal, but Loretta personally told me that she was going to make a change 'Just wait and see' and she is."