By Monica Thompson Fragale, For Digital First Media
Rebecca Grafton found out she was on the cover of People magazine when a friend texted the good news.
Grafton, 25, was one of five women featured in the July 25 issue of the magazine for losing 100 or more pounds. She was also one of two cover models showing off their beach-ready bodies on the cover.
“I have a healthy body for the first time in my life,” the Skippack resident said in a recent telephone interview. “It definitely takes a lot of work to lose weight, but it became my lifestyle.”
It was a lifestyle that Grafton, who grew up in Telford, shared with her more than 78,000 Instagram followers over the last two-and-a-half years and through her blog at www.mygirlishwhims.com. It is also a lifestyle she hopes to inspire more people to explore.
“Healthy living is something I’m so passionate about,” she said, adding that she is looking at making her blog and Instagram more helpful to other people who want to follow the weight-loss journey. She has lost 104 pounds to date.
When Grafton decided to lose weight, she was 246 pounds and months away from a trip to Jamaica.
“I kept looking at myself in pictures and didn’t recognize myself,” she said, adding that she had always been heavier but reached the obese stage after graduating from college. One day she got on the treadmill and decided to try running for 30 minutes straight instead of her walk-run-walk-run routine. “It was a big deal.”
She used the MyFitnessPal app to track her workouts and calories, and also began posting every month on the blog she had maintained since college, creating a hashtag to inspire her — #mygirlishbuttgetsfit.
“I just felt so empowered and strong like I could really do something,” Grafton wrote in her first weight-loss blog from February 2014. “That didn’t immediately spark a change though … It took booking a vacation and wanting to look decent in a bathing suit to push myself to try and go harder.”
That first month, Grafton lost 11 pounds. The second month, she lost another 5. Six months later, Grafton had lost a total of 52 pounds and wanted to keep going.
“I didn’t start out planning on losing 100 pounds,” she wrote on her Instagram account, @mygirlishwhims. “My first goal was only a little over 50 pounds which still seemed impossible. I didn’t get overwhelmed with the big numbers though: I just decided to start and focused on one pound at a time and changing my lifestyle bit by bit.”
For the next two years, she would post selfies on her blog and Instagram to mark her progress and keep her inspired. The light in her eyes and the smile on her face grew brighter with each new milestone.
“I was so proud I had stayed consistent,” she said.
When she had lost 50 pounds, her Instagram account attracted tens of thousands of new followers. These days, her account has 78,000 followers.
People Magazine found her through her Instagram and asked her to submit photos of herself from her weight-loss journey.
She and the four other women — Alex Perrineau, 22; MacKenzie Walker, 16; Gillian Faith, 41; and Karyl Mullins, 38 — were invited to the Hamptons for a weekend photo shoot in June 2016. Her feature in People has led to appearances on “Good Morning America,” “People Now,” “Inside Edition,” “Extra,” and “Entertainment Tonight” in July.
“I was obese and I was unhappy when I started this,” Grafton said. But, after losing 104 pounds, “I had no idea how many doors this would open for me.”
The woman who had once scrolled through Instagram looking for inspiration from those who had lost weight is now the one inspiring others.
As one Instagram follower wrote to Grafton, “I’ve never actually seen anyone really document their weight loss the way you did. I have gained 20 pounds and I’ve felt hopeless, but reading your blog posts are so encouraging.”
For more information on Grafton’s weight loss, check out her blog at www.mygirlishwhims.com or her Instagram account at @mygirlishwhims.