At 51, I've never been happier or healthier. My secret? I recently lost more than 80 pounds and have kept it off for a year and a half. Like many women I know, I have a history of gaining and losing weight. And I'm not talking about 5 or 10 pounds. I would go from a size 18 or 20 to a size 2 and back again. I hated my body and thought starving was the only way to lose weight. In fact, a bout with anorexia in my early twenties landed me in the hospital. Even that experience didn't make a difference: I continued to gain and lose. At age 44, I lost 60 pounds by starving myself for days and days-but as soon as I began to eat again, I ballooned to over 200.
Finally, at age 49, I realized I had to do something permanent about my love/hate relationship with food. In February of that year, I joined Weight Watchers online, and I followed the plan religiously. I also began walking every day for about an hour. Sure enough, I slowly started dropping pounds and sizes. From a starting size of 20, I was a size 12 by summer.
In September, I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting, and by November, I was down to 145 pounds, my goal weight two weeks before my 50th birthday. My birthday came and went, and I continued to lose. In January, I was at 135 pounds and became a "lifetime" Weight Watchers member.
With my eating under control, it was time to get fit. I joined Curves and started circuit training four to five days a week, which helped sculpt my body and eliminate the excess skin I had from losing weight.
Today I weigh 132 pounds. I attend weekly Weight Watchers meetings and work out five days a week. I finally understand that I can eat and be thin. Of course, what I eat now (whole grain foods, chicken, fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy) is lower in calories and fat than what I used to eat. I still think about chips, bread and butter, and other fattening foods, and once in a while I indulge in some of them-but I've learned to eat small portions of everything. I also drink at least eight glasses of water a day and take a multivitamin daily.
Changing my perspective
My whole outlook has changed: I have more energy and am flexible and happy. I no longer have the health issues I once had. My acid reflux problem is gone; my back doesn't hurt anymore when I stand and walk; I used to get three or four severe colds a year, and now I can't remember the last time I had one.
Today, food is my friend. I'm not afraid of it anymore, and I don't let it control me. The hardest thing for me to grasp was the fact that you have to eat to lose weight. I'd heard it before, but I was afraid to make it work for me. I know I've lost and gained in the past, but this time, I have the tools I need to stay this way for the rest of my life. Being thin and healthy is a wonderful feeling, but being successful and in control is even better.—Janet Spada, Villas, N.J.