(NEW YORK) -- Misty Shaffer has struggled with weight all her life. When her husband was deployed to Afghanistan for a year, the Leland, N.C., woman decided to use his absence to re-commit herself to losing weight so she could surprise him when he came home.
In the year that Army Spc. Larry Shaffer was gone on his second deployment abroad, his wife changed the way she ate. She switched to whole grains, ate mainly fruits, vegetables and lean meats, drank lots of water and controlled her portion sizes.
She also limited her food intake, going from eating about 2,000 calories a day to now eating about 1,200 calories.
Misty, who wore a size 20 then, watched the pounds melt away. At her heaviest, she weighed 315 pounds, but she tipped the scales at 250 pounds when she started counting her calories in June. When her husband came home last Wednesday, she weighed 154 pounds.
She now wears sizes 7 through 9, she said.
“In the beginning, the first couple of months (were) hard because I guess, people telling me the cleansing of the body because you’re still wanting that sugar, you’re still craving that stuff, and now it’s a lot easier,” the 24-year-old mother told ABC News. “Whenever I go grocery shopping it’s like, I crave the healthy stuff over the non-healthy stuff. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do have a piece of cake here and there or whatever, but it’s just the size of it and how often I do it.”
Misty, who works as a personal grocery shopper, said she didn’t do any exercise beyond going to work and taking care of her 3-year-old daughter, Nevaeh.
When Larry got off the plane on Wednesday, he was stunned by his wife’s weight loss. She had been standing behind a crowd of friends and family who had gathered to welcome him home, and when the crowd parted, Larry got his first look at his newly slender wife.
“All he did was ‘wow,’” Misty recalled, adding: “All he can tell me is he so proud of me and he loved me before, no matter what...he’s always seen me as beautiful. But he said whatever makes me happy makes him happy.”
In the year that the Shaffers were apart, they would Skype and Misty would send her husband pictures of their daughter and of herself -- but she made sure that her images only showed her from the neck up. Her friends and family helped keep the secret, too.
“When they took pictures they would either edit them to where it was just shoulder up or didn’t post them or either they blocked him to where he couldn’t see it,” she said.
Misty said she’s happy with her success. “I’m still like really conscious about my body but with clothes on and stuff I feel like I look good,” she said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio