Before: 220 pounds
After: 155 pounds
Before: 195 pounds
After: 154 pounds
Karenga Ross used to be a “meat and potatoes kind of girl”—she loved to indulge in a big slab of meat and French fries. The busy mother of three had little time for exercise. “I had a treadmill, but I used it to hang my clothes on,” she says. Over the years her weight crept up to 220 pounds. Karenga’s mother, Lenora Bryant, had more of a sweet tooth. “I could eat an entire roll of cookies,” she says. Thanks to her tall, five-foot nine-inch frame, she stayed slim easily until her unhealthy habits caught up with her in her 50s. “The cookies started showing up on my hips and thighs,” she says. She topped out at 195 pounds.
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The Turning Point
When self-proclaimed shopaholic Lenora realized that wearing a size 16 limited her apparel options, it was a wakeup call. “I love to shop and I love cute outfits,” she says. “When I could no longer fit into my cute outfits, I knew I needed to do something.” Lenora took the plunge into weight loss first, and when Karenga saw how great her mother looked, she knew she had to give it a try as well. “My mom made healthy look good,” Karenga says.
Lenora started her weight loss journey with Weight Watchers At Work meetings. (Search: Find a Weight Watchers near me) The plan taught her to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in her diet and made an effort to eat at home instead of dining out. A golf fanatic, Lenora supplemented her eating habits by walking 36 holes of golf instead of riding the cart on the weekends. She’d also walk for an hour or so around a local track after Weight Watchers meetings or pedal on the stationary bike in her basement.
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Following her mother’s lead, Karenga also joined Weight Watchers. “I realized it wasn’t the food I was eating, it was the quantity of the food I was eating,” Karenga says. Her mother also introduced her to fresh fruits and vegetables. “My mom showed me how to make them fun,” Karenga says. Lenora taught Karenga how to pick in-season fruits and vegetables and use them to make salads and smoothies. However, unlike Lenora, Karenga wasn’t content to log time on the stationary bike. “My mom told me to dust off my bike, but it was so boring for me,” Karenga remembers. Instead, she joined the YMCA with a few women from her Weight Watchers group. She fell in love with Zumba classes, dancing the calories away for an hour a day five days a week. In 10 months, she dropped 60 pounds.
Karenga and Lenora fed off of one another’s enthusiasm and success. “Having my mom—someone I trust and love—doing it first was very inspiring,” Karenga says. “She told me what worked and didn’t work for her so I didn’t fall into the same traps she did.” Lenora agrees. “Karenga would send me a text every Sunday after a weigh in,” she says. “It made me feel so good and it kept me going.”
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Today Lenora feels like a whole new person. “At one point I thought I’d need a walker, but now I can get up out of a chair without my knees feeling sore,” she says. Her trim figure hasn’t been bad for her shopping habit either. “I can find some really cute clothing in a size 8 now,” she says.
Karenga can’t get enough of her newfound energy and strength “I’m not out of breath; I love the strength I’m getting. If you ask me to kick in the door, I can totally do it, and I can rip and run with my kids,” Karenga says. Plus she loves the stress relief she gets from fitness classes.
Find what works for you. “My mom likes to exercise alone. She’ll pop in a DVD and hammer it out. But I’m more social. I need people who will hold me accountable.”
Whatever you do, don’t quit. “Don’t be discouraged by a weight gain,” Karenga says. “Just try something different; tweak your plan until you find your groove.”
Choose an exercise you love to do. “You’re making a lifetime commitment, so make sure it’s something you enjoy,” Lenora says.
Request a doggy bag before you eat. “Ask for a takeout box at the beginning of a meal and put half of your food of it in,” she says. This way you’ll still get the gratification of cleaning your plate without overindulging.