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Central Washington University

CWU Graduate Student Makes Cover of People Magazine, Appears on GMA

Central Washington University school psychology graduate student Sharee Samuels is featured on the cover of this week’s People magazine for the lead article, “How They Did It—Half Their Size!” 

About seven years ago, the five-foot, eight-inch Samuels weighed 256 pounds. Today, she is just 135 pounds—literally nearly half the woman she was before.  Samuels, 24, chronicled her story on her blog “Funeral for my fat,” which, apparently, drew the interest of magazine editors last October, Samuels says.

“They contacted me through my personal Facebook page, and asked me a few basic questions and if I was interested in being considered for the issue,” she adds. “I said ‘absolutely.’ Two weeks later I got a message that they would love to have me in their issue.”

That issue will be available tomorrow (Friday, January 3), the same day Samuels will appear live on Good Morning America to discuss her incredible transformation. Samuels, who flew to New York today, says her segment is scheduled to air at 7:15 a.m.

“It’s really exciting and it’s really fun,” Samuels says, with a laugh. “Every phone call that I’ve been getting today has been from another studio in New York that wants me to come and see them before I fly out tomorrow.”

Samuels says the TV programs Extra and omg! Insider will also air her story on Friday.

Samuels is also a popular group fitness instructor at CWU’s recreation center.

“When I started going to Central, I was 230 pounds,” she recalls. “I was just attending fitness classes. That’s when I learned to try other things, because of all of the different, fun classes that were offered. So, I started to attend all of the classes that I could go to. Now, five years later, I’m instructing the classes. I wouldn’t be an instructor today had it not been for Central. ”

She’s also proving to be a role model for other students at the beginning of their fitness journeys.

“I had a student come up to me right before winter break,” Samuels says. “She had been going to my classes for about a year. She told me that she had lost about 70 pounds from attending group fitness classes. I think that’s the coolest thing to hear stories like that.”

On her blog, Samuels explains her weight loss this way, “I wear black [clothes] when I work out. It’s a Funeral For My Fat,” noting that she created the blog to motivate herself, and help those who are on the same health-conscious journey she’s on. She also answers questions and provides links to resources from her blog. 

“I love my blog and I love the followers that I have and the community that is on this fitness journey,” Samuels says, noting she is going to continue her blog, which has more than 91,000 followers, indefinitely.

She also plans a career in elementary education, working with special needs students.

“But, because of my passion for fitness and health, I also want to use my psychology background to work with students who are struggling with their weight and be an inspiration,” she adds.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

January 2, 2014

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