Photo: Ruven Afanador

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Shaniqua Garvin, Bronx, New York
Age: 35
Height: 5'6"
Weight: 226
Goal: Weigh 198 pounds or be a size 12, fit into Diane von Furstenberg clothes and look good in a bikini

I had some awkward teen years when my weight fluctuated, but by college I was very fit. In fact, my stepdad gave me the nickname Slim. I started to pick up pounds after I met my husband because he preferred me bigger, but my body really changed after I had my son six years ago. I'm a birthday party planner, and now my body is like, You ate that pizza, you ate that cake, and it's staying on. I can't bounce back and lose ten pounds like I used to.

Last year my husband died of heart disease and complications from a blood infection. He was 38, but his doctor said he had the heart of a 90-year-old. He also had diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I recently learned I'm prediabetic, and my son's blood sugar levels are really high for his age. I'm all my son has left. I know I need to take our health seriously because he could inherit a number of problems.

When my husband was sick, I was stressed—depressed, even—because I was so worried about him and the financial pitfalls we faced every time he missed work. And my way of coping was to drink too much or eat my feelings. Now I want to get back into running and dancing. I really enjoy running—when I was in shape I ran six miles a day—and I like street, hip-hop and modern dance. I'm being more mindful of the things I eat and drink, too. I cut out soda, but I love wine and beer. I know I have to eat a healthy lunch; when I'm working, though, I'm so focused on getting the party guests fed that I end up scarfing down leftover snacks. When I put together candy tables, I might eat some just for an energy boost.

I'm excited to get out a little. Maybe I'll want to date eventually. I feel like I have to be in better shape to attract people, and I like myself in a size 12. Maybe it doesn't work for everyone, but it looks good on me.

Watch Bobbi and Shaniqua tell their stories at

Going It Alone
From top: Shaniqua's husband and son on Easter 2014; at about 235 pounds at a party in Brooklyn, summer 2015—six months after her husband died.

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Photo: Courtesy of Shaniqua Garvin

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Photo: Courtesy of Shaniqua Garvin