Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle -- injury, illness or other hardship -- they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week we meet Annette Miller, who once weighed close to 400 pounds. On Sunday, along with her CNN Fit Nation teammates, Miller completed the Nautica Malibu Triathlon.
(CNN) -- In March 2010 I found out my twin sister, Bobbette, needed a kidney transplant. With a body mass index of well over 50, I was ruled out as a donor.
At that moment, I decided I would get healthy once she got healthy. I decided that my weight would never again keep me from doing something I wanted.
Bobbette got a new kidney in June and was finally getting back on her feet in September.
Then it was my turn.
I weighed 385 pounds -- and no, it wasn't because I like to eat. I grew up as a fat kid, and food was my coping mechanism.
In September 2011, I started walking. By the end of the year, I started making better food choices. In January 2012, I joined my local Y, where I started taking water classes such as H²O cardio and hydrorider.
In June 2012 I was down to 330 pounds. One of my best friends, Anje, volunteered to help me lose even more weight. She figured out quickly that I loved sports; more than anything I wanted to be an athlete. She came up with a plan for us to approach my weight loss in phases. At the end of each phase, I would do some athletic feat.
At the end of phase one, I would run a 5K without stopping. Phase two was a half marathon. She suggested a triathlon for phase three; I laughed in her face and told her she was crazy.
Fate had another plan. One morning I heard Jeff Dauler on "The Bert Show" recount the biggest lesson he had learned from being part of the CNN Fit Nation 2012 team. That lesson was "In times of transition, keep moving forward. It doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you keep going forward."
That year was a time of transition for me and to "keep moving forward," I knew I had to be part of the 2013 CNN Fit Nation team.
On Christmas Day 2012, I got the best present ever: a Facebook message from a producer saying CNN had to talk to me. I knew this was going to be big.
"Surprise, welcome and congratulations. ..." I heard those words from Dr. Sanjay Gupta and immediately screamed and started to cry. I finally had a team, and I was going to be a triathlete in nine months.
The biggest obstacle for me was cycling. I had never clipped into a bike, and I was terrified by the thought of it. By the time we got to our midway training trip in Clermont, Florida, I was doing better but still hated it.
With two words, my trainer April Burkey made me a cyclist on that trip -- and started to heal some emotional scars. We were coming off a huge hill, and she said, "Let go. ..."
At that point she was talking about the brakes, but we had been talking all day about my self-perception. Like braking on a bike, I was holding on too tightly to people, words and situations that had hurt me and to worries about things over which I have absolutely no control.
When it came time for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, I had no fear. I knew without a doubt I would finish. I was so excited and thankful for this opportunity to live out a childhood dream of being on a team. I had lost nearly 200 pounds and was healthier and happier than ever.
As I was out on the course, I would see my teammates, and every time we would yell words of encouragement to each other. It didn't matter who finished first as long as we finished. I had a sense of finally belonging. I never felt more free and confident in my life as I did when I threw my hands in the air as I crossed the finish line.
I left all the words and actions that hurt and haunted me since childhood along with the unhealthy, unhappy woman I used to be at the finish line in Malibu on September 8, 2013.
I had finally "let go."
Now the only thing left to do is keep moving forward.
Follow Miller's journey on Twitter @TriHardAnnette.