Kristen Tomasic, 45
Pounds lost in 12 weeks: 27.5
Total pounds lost: 60
I struggled with my weight since high school, and it only got worse after college, when I started to put my career--I'm vice president of a software company--and family before my health. When my daughter was born, I never lost the baby weight, and each year, the weight compounded. At my heaviest, I weighed 199 pounds.
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Why I Started Walking: I would begin a new "diet" every Monday, but I never really stuck to a healthy eating program or committed to exercise. I started this program because I realized that to be successful, I needed an exercise plan. I was also concerned about some family health scares--a close relative had a stroke, and both of my grandmothers had congestive heart failure--so I was worried that I could be predisposed to some serious health issues.
Kristen's Best Advice:
"Make a specific diet and exercise plan-figure out how many calories you need and when you're going to exercise--and write it down so you're clear on your commitment. Then chart your progress each week so you hold yourself accountable."
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My Biggest Struggle: It was hard to find time to work out. I'm not a morning exercise person, so in order to succeed, I had to walk in the evening. It wasn't easy. I throw dinner together for my family when I get home from work, so I started walking at night, during the time I normally would watch TV. There were some nights when I wasn't able to get outside until 9:15, but I walked anyway because I knew that I wouldn't get up and do it in the morning.
What Kept Me Motivated: I charted my weight loss progress on a spreadsheet, just as I would monitor a project at work. Being able to look back at how far I'd come kept me motivated. Soon after starting the program, I began losing about 2 pounds a week!
What I'm Doing Now: I walk a minimum of 35 minutes 5 times a week. To stay motivated, I use the app RunKeeper (free; iTunes store), which tells me how fast I'm walking and how many calories I'm burning. It inspires me to walk faster!
My Biggest Payoff: I feel great, I have more energy, and losing weight has definitely helped my self-esteem. I used to dress in loose clothing, but now I'm not afraid to wear cute outfits that show off my newly slim figure. Shopping is definitely a lot more fun!
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Arlene Scott, 62
Pounds lost in 12 weeks: 19.8
Total pounds lost: 32
Weight has always been an issue for me, but the numbers on the scale really skyrocketed when I had kids. I also ate poorly. Part of it was simply bad planning, and part of it was laziness. It was normal for me to skip breakfast, grab a doughnut in the teachers' lounge, skip lunch, swing by McDonald's for ice cream on the way home, and then graze on junk until I went to bed.
Why I Started Walking: At 60, I was told by my doctor that my blood sugar was high and I basically had prediabetes. I knew I needed to do something.
My Biggest Struggle: I had to rethink my relationship with food. First I made a goal to eat a healthier breakfast, swapping my toast with peanut butter and jelly for a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt and a small bowl of non-wheat cereal, like oatmeal. Soon I was making healthier choices at lunch and dinner too.
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What Kept Me Motivated: The fear of diabetes was a big motivator. But after 2 or 3 weeks, my body became more acclimated to moving, and I actually started to look forward to exercise.
What I'm Doing Now: I still walk about 3 hours each week, and I love how I feel afterward. I enjoy being in nature and feeling the wind on my face.
My Biggest Payoff: When I look in the mirror, I no longer see an old, fat woman. I see one happy chick! Also, my fasting blood sugar went from 129 to 96, and I even improved my cholesterol--my [bad] LDL went from 165 to 157, and my [good] HDL jumped from 54 to 64.
Arlene's Best Advice:
"Follow this program and do exactly what it tells you to do, like you're taking chemo and your life depends on it. It'll change your entire life for the better."
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Susan DeSmet, 47
Pounds lost in 12 weeks: 12.4
Total pounds lost: 12.4
I've always struggled with my weight. While I've exercised on and off for years, my full-time job as a school nurse and raising my three kids--I have two teenage boys and a 6-year-old daughter--keep me busy, so it was difficult to be consistent.
Why I Started Walking: As a nurse, I knew I was going to end up with health issues unless I started a regular routine. I also wanted a program I could do anytime, anywhere.
My Biggest Struggle: It was tough to make the commitment to wake up early and walk before work, especially in winter, when it was dark and cold outside. But I pushed myself to do it, because I knew that by the end of the day--with all the cooking, cleaning, and running my kids here and there--I'd never get to it otherwise.
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What Kept Me Motivated: I felt better! My energy level was up, I was more productive-basically, I just felt happier. My husband was my No. 1 support person; there were many mornings he would be walking in the dark right there beside me.
What I'm Doing Now: I completed the Philadelphia half marathon this past November. What an amazing experience! I never dreamed I'd be able to complete 13.1 miles, but the walking program gave me the motivation to push myself further than I thought possible. I still walk 4 days a week. I love that I can just open my door and go.
My Biggest Payoff: Crossing the finish line at the half marathon was incredible. I have a feeling of well-being; I feel healthy and strong. Plus, I lowered my blood pressure!
Susan's Best Advice:
"Don't be afraid to start out slow. Go at your own pace, but stick with it because it works!
These stories were adapted from Walk Your Butt Off! by Sarah Lorge Butler with Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, and Michele Stanten, former fitness director of Prevention (Rodale, 2013).