Kiah Twisselman’s weight-loss journey started nearly two years ago, but her method is almost tailor-made for life in quarantine. She’s never set foot in a gym, she doesn’t go to weekly support meetings and her food often comes straight from the source: her family’s seven-generation cattle ranch.
“Quarantine life hasn’t looked too different from everyday life,” Twisselman, 27, tells PEOPLE.

But her current situation is certainly different from what it was two years ago. At that point, in 2018, Twisselman was living in Kentucky and working as the Director of Consumer Affairs at the Kentucky Beef Council. While she had a great job and a loving boyfriend who is now her fiancé, years of struggling with her weight had left her at her heaviest: 285 lbs.

“I really battled with obesity for my entire life,” she says. “I went through a lot of fad diets, and it was just this terrible cycle where I would lose weight, but then go off the diet and gain it all back and then some.”

Twisselman had resigned herself to thinking that she couldn’t change.

“I believed for a really long time that it was just my genetics, that I just got dealt a bad hand and there was nothing I could do about it,” she says.

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Stop saying you’ll start over on Monday. I don’t care if you haven’t exercised in 5 years. I don’t care if you just got done binging a gallon of ice cream on the couch in one sitting. Making a mistake or taking a break doesn’t mean you have to turn around and start over. When we tell ourselves we’re going to start over, we’re making the false assumption that we’ll do it perfectly next time. We think that if we can’t do it flawlessly, then we shouldn’t do it at all. Stop self-sabotaging yourself with your BS all-or-nothing mentality. You get to decide, right now in this moment, to stand back up. You get to choose to learn from your failure and walk through it, only becoming stronger on the other side. This journey has been a long, imperfect one. I’ve given into food urges, I’ve missed workouts, I’ve gained weight just as fast as I’ve lost it. I fail all the freakin’ time. But I always choose to stand back up. Failure is guaranteed, standing back up is a choice. What will you choose for yourself? Size 20 👉🏻 Size 6
A post shared by Kiah Twisselman - Coach Kiah (@kiah_twisselman) on
Over the next few months — from Oct. 2018 to Jan. 2019 — Twisselman lost 25 lbs., which encouraged her to keep going. She set a new goal of losing 100 lbs. by Oct. 2019. Her weight loss continued to be “fairly steady, but I definitely hit some plateaus,” she says.
 “It was about continuing to make those baby step changes forward and not getting too comfortable in my routine,” she says. Twisselman started doing harder workout videos — all on YouTube — and experimenting with different healthy foods to give herself a boost. 
 But the biggest change, she says, was her mindset, especially when she would slip up.
“When I tried to diet before, if I messed up, I would say, ‘See, you failed, you always fail.’ But this time, I started from a place of self-love,” she says. 
“I had to love myself enough to show up and do the hard things each day, and when I failed I was more willing to forgive myself and say, ‘What can I learn from this? How can I use this experience to continue moving forward?’ ”
This time around, Twisselman hit her goal and lost 103 lbs. in one year, plus another 19 lbs. over the last seven months. She’s since moved back to her family’s cattle ranch in San Luis Obispo, California, with her fiancé and is working as a life and health coach and running her own marketing company.
 And now, she says, the number on the scale doesn’t matter so much.
“It’s less about hitting a number or a goal weight and more about showing up and loving myself today,” she says.

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