Before: 215 pounds
After: 125 pounds
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Mary Davies grew up with a complicated relationship with food. Starved by her adoptive parents, she’d secretly purchase fatty and sugary fare with the money she earned from a cleaning gig. “I would buy candy and doughnuts, and eat until I was stuffed and sick,” says Mary. “It became a really comforting habit.” She started packing on the pounds, but became a fitness instructor to try to balance out the extra calories as she continued to gorge on mac and cheese, gummy bears, and caramels during stressful times. (When you're feeling overwhelmed, reach for these healthy comfort foods instead.)
By 1998, Mary’s exercising habits could no longer hide her weight gain. Coming out of a whirlwind second divorce with three kids to support and a back injury, she once again turned to food and her weight rose to 215 pounds.
The Turning Point
After coming home from a routine doctor’s visit, Mary was struck by how hard it was to walk just from her car to her house. “I realized I was actually panting and thought, This can’t go on,” says Mary.
With her counselor, Mary made 12 commitments for her health. Some promises were tangible, such as eating more vegetables, not snacking after 6pm, stretching more, and drinking two quarts of water a day. Others were more emotional: accepting herself, being truthful with at least one person about her binging. “I put my goals down in writing first,” she says. “Then I focused not on why I was eating, but why I couldn’t accept myself.” (Fight feelings of discouragement with this motivational poster.)
Little by little, Mary increased her activity and tackled her inner demons. She’d walk up and down the stairs during commercial breaks and do a yoga routine before bed. (Video: Transform your room into a yoga studio) Now she takes Zumba class, dances, and plays racquetball. Slowly, she came to recognize her value as a person and realized that neither food nor her past needed to control her.
Even when her weight loss occasionally plateaued, Mary found strength and acceptance from her counselor, support group, and faith. Fitness ended up becoming a family affair, too. “Instead of sitting around the TV, my kids and I now bike or play Frisbee. Life is all about activity,” says Mary. “It feels incredible to pass that on to my children.” (Log every bit of activity you do with our Fit Tracker tool.)
Mary no longer feels like food controls her. While she’ll occasionally have French fries or a couple of bites of cheesecake, she doesn’t feel the need to indulge multiple times a day. “Now I feel very stable emotionally and strong physically,” says Mary. “I can’t wait to go to a fitness class. I look forward to doing fun things in life and get high from it.”
Find the root. “Deal with the “why” of your eating and be truthful with at least one person about your eating and emotions.”
Slow and steady. “Take one day at a time, one size at a time, one issue at a time.”
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