At 260 lbs., Cheryl Shaw knew she needed to make a change, but lacked motivation. Worst of all, she could tell that her bad habits were hurting her teenage daughter Tessa, who weighed around 190 lbs. despite being just 4’11”.
“Our eating was completely out of control,” Cheryl, 52, tells PEOPLE. “My daughter worried about me because at that point I had given up. I work 12 hours, so I get home at night and I’m eating garbage. I’m not cooking a meal. I’m eating McDonald’s at ten o’clock at night.”
“I really fell into bad habits, and it kept escalating to the point where you felt helpless.”
That’s when Tessa, 19, suggested that they lose the weight — together. The mother-daughter duo decided to take on a 100-day challenge, and committed to filming ten seconds of their workouts and healthy eating for over three months.
Doing it together gave the New Jersey-based pair a built-in support system.
“Having each other made losing weight so much better,” Cheryl, an emergency room technician, says. “We made it fun. We would go for a run and video tape it, we would go to the gym and tape it, we would cook our food and videotape it. Every day, we did something towards our fitness goal.”
“And there were days that one of us didn’t want to work out and the other one would step up to the plate and push the other one. And there were days when we would take off, because you need that.”
Plus, it improved their previously weak relationship.
“It totally strengthened it,” Cheryl says. “We had the typical mother-teenager relationship. She wasn’t happy, and I wasn’t happy. It brought us together. We really became very close.”
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After they finished the challenge in May 2014, they both stayed on their sugar-, grain- and wheat-free diet. Tessa has lost around 60 lbs., bringing her to 130, and Cheryl dropped about 55 lbs.
“[Tessa] completely changed her lifestyle,” Cheryl says. “She was able to have a [great] senior year, because before that she was the chubby girl, who didn’t have any kind of social life, and she felt like crap in high school. Now she eats well all the time, she goes to the gym. She respects all that stuff now.”
And the Shaws were thrilled to see their old video go viral after Star Trek‘s George Takai shared it on Facebook on New Year’s Day.
“My daughter and I were like, ‘What is going on?’ ” Cheryl says. “My mouth dropped to the floor.”
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