Kassidy Linde had reached 260 lbs. when she completely lost her self-confidence.
“It got to the point that whenever I would look in the mirror, I wasn’t able to find anything beautiful about myself,” Linde, 25, tells PEOPLE. “That’s a devastating feeling. I have an 18-month-old daughter, and I would feel terrible if she ever felt this way about herself. I wanted her to look up to me and admire me, so I changed myself.”
Before the Cheyenne, Wyoming, gym employee decided to get on a healthy path, her diet was a self-described “nightmare.”
“I was always drinking, smoking and eating out, and ate nothing more than junk,” says Linde. “I obviously knew what I was eating was unhealthy, but I didn’t have the will to change. There was even a time that I went to a fast food restaurant and ate in the parking lot because I was ashamed.”
After reaching her turning point, Linde eliminated unhealthy foods from her diet and began doing cardio three to five days a week.
“I quit making excuses,” she says. “I started researching, meal prepping and working out. I started drinking a gallon of water a day, and prepping chicken, rice and veggies every Sunday.”
The new mom hit a bump in the road when she began experiencing pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints.
“It’s extremely hard to stay active while dealing with arthritis,” she says. “I struggle every single day, whether it be with the actual pain or the worry about what if the pain is worse tomorrow. I’ll be mid-workout, and literally feel like I am being stabbed and have to stop. But instead of throwing a fit and storming out, I get up, move to a different exercise, and keep going.”
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Tracking her progress on her Instagram account has helped her to on a healthy path despite her hurdles.
“Holding myself accountable via social media was probably my biggest motivator,” says Linde. “What my followers didn’t realize is that for as much I as was motivating them, they were motivating me as well. Putting yourself out there and letting yourself be vulnerable to thousands of people really makes you want to give it your all and do your best.”
And while she admits that there are days she doesn’t want to work out or wants to eat an entire pizza, she has learned to exercise self-control and get creative with ways to keep sticking to her plan of five-day-a-week workouts and a diet that consists mainly of chicken, tuna, turkey meat, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
“I made a fitness journal to track my progress, and I am always searching for a new workout to keep my self from growing complacent,” says Linde, who also says that taking pictures to document her progress has been a huge motivation. “I don’t think people realize how important it is to take pictures of yourself while you’re literally transforming your body. In doing this I came to the realization that it was the ‘old’ me motivating the ‘new’ me.”
Now down 130 lbs., Linde has found her self-confidence again.
“I can look in the mirror and appreciate my body for what is has been through,” she says. “Losing weight has changed my whole demeanor. I am a completely different person — not only physically but mentally too.”
Her new focus is helping others achieve their own weight loss goals.
“It is very important to me to inspire others,” says Linde. “When I first started, my goal was to lose my own weight. Now my goal is to help other people lose weight too. It is one of the most rewarding and humbling feelings I have ever encountered, and for that I am so blessed!”