Losing weight has plenty of rewards: better health, more energy and (finally!) fitting into that little black dress. But sometimes, as these four women learned, it brings unexpected gifts as well.
By Norine Dworkin-McDaniel
Occupation: Retired deputy coroner
Hometown: Arcadia, California
Previous Weight: 280 pounds
Current Weight: 165 pounds
Weight Lost: 115 pounds
Turning Point: About six months before retirement I started having breathing problems. I set up an appointment with my doctor. Just hustling into her office sent my blood pressure off the charts. The doctor did an EKG and said, "This isn't good." My cholesterol was high too. The doctor started me on medication and of course told me to lose weight. I realized I had to do something or I was going to die.
How She Lost It: Shortly after the trip to the doctor my office launched a 10-week weight-loss competition, sponsored by the Lindora Medical Clinic. We were encouraged to exercise, so I decided I'd walk. My first time out I had my husband drop me 5 miles from home. It took me longer to get back to our house than I'd like to admit. Those first couple of walks were tough, but it got easier. I was able to go off my blood pressure medication within a month, and after two months my cholesterol was normal. I continued exercising and eating healthy after the contest and when I retired. Within a year I shed 115 pounds.
What She Found: I don't feel 57! My feet don't hurt. I don't get winded. I used to get so tired I'd have to nap. Now I get up at 6 a.m. and don't stop until 11 at night. I walk 6 to 10 miles a day. I swim and snorkel and even learned to scuba dive. I can buy jeans at any store; size 28 used to be tight, now I wear a 10. Last year, for the first time in my life, I sat on Santa's lap. I'd never been on his lap as a kid because I was always fat—over 200 pounds in fifth grade. Recently I bought a sports car—a black, convertible Crossfire. Never in a million years did I believe I'd own a tiny car.
Originally published in the January 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.