Healthy Weight Loss Success Story: Karen Brennan

"I Beat a Lifelong Weight Problem"

A heartfelt plea from her daughter gave Karen Brennan the push she needed to eat right and get fit

Karen Brennan
After  |  Before
Image: Shay Peretz

Age: 52
Height: 5'6''
Weight Then: 205
Weight Now: 135 pounds
Pounds Lost: 70

My Story
You might say I was born to be heavy—the biggest baby out of three siblings. Early on, I was compulsive about food. If my mom baked a cake at night, I'd sneak downstairs in the morning to lick off the frosting. As an adult, my weight yo-yoed, until I became a mother and decided it was time to get healthy. I joined Weight Watchers and started swimming and measuring meals. By my 30th birthday, I weighed 145 pounds and felt ready to take on anything.

Walking workouts that blast fat

The Fall of Supermom
With all my new energy and dreams of being the mom who saved the world, I launched a recycling business. My family hauled 22 tons of recyclables out of our neighborhood—but then I herniated a disk. That was the end of my wonderful new beginning. I was in far too much pain to work out. The setback was disheartening, but instead of dealing with my sadness, I threw my energy into taking care of my kids. Between Girl Scouts and soccer, snacks were always around and my habit reared its ugly head again. I entered a 15-year cycle of eating, gaining weight, feeling depressed, and eating more.

Child Support
By the time my daughter returned from her first year at college, I had reached 205, my heaviest weight yet. One day she leaned over and whispered, "Mom, I want you to take care of yourself." Before, when my husband suggested I join a gym, it felt hurtful, but it was different coming from my child. Soon after, I signed up.

Starting out was tough. When you're heavy, people act like you're invisible. There were days I wanted to quit—but I would think about my family and keep going. I slowly strengthened my back, and eventually, my three visits a week became six.

I began to change my diet, too. One year later, I had lost 70 pounds. Now I'm 52 years old and feel more confident than ever. And these days, as a certified fitness trainer, I'm the one providing encouragement. I prefer to work with very heavy clients in a studio or in their homes to make the process less scary. My flyer has pictures of me then and now, and I always tell clients, "If I could do it, so can you!"

Don't ditch your diet this weekend


My Top Tips
Don't eliminate favorites…just cut back on them. I'd enjoy bread and pasta in moderation—but to control my tendency to overeat, I wouldn't eat them past 3 pm.

Eat often…to help maintain your energy levels. Just keep portion sizes small.

Just exercise…even if you don't feel like it. You can't sit around and do nothing and expect the pounds to roll off!

Use a sound track…to pump up your workout. When I didn't want to be at the gym, hip-hop and old rock 'n' roll could get me in the mood.

Make some new friends...who support your active lifestyle. I've found a wonderful group of buddies at the gym who help keep me on track.

Remember…the benefits. I used to have heel spurs that were unbearable because of the extra weight I was carrying on my frame. Now I can walk anywhere I want without pain!