Weight Loss Journey: How One Mom Lost More Than 120 Pounds

So many people told Wendy Rowland, 50, of Cincinnati, Ohio, it was nearly impossible to lose weight after 40 that she almost gave up. Almost. Here’s how she proved them wrong by going from 288 pounds to 165.


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How did you gain the weight?

Wendy Rowland Before

Wendy Rowland before her weight loss. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Wendy Rowland before her weight loss. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Decades of poor dietary choices and excessive snacking. In college, I developed late night snacking habits to combat stress, boredom and fatigue—a pattern that followed me into my adulthood, my marriage and my childbearing years. The years passed, and the weight accumulated.

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What made you decide that it was time to lose weight?

Wendy Rowland and Husband Blue Dress

Wendy and her husband. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Wendy and her husband. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

The realization that I was living a life on the sidelines. I was happy in my marriage and as a mom, but didn’t have the physical ability or energy to participate much on an active level. I had three younger boys, all involved in multiple sports, and all I could do was watch the action; not play myself. I could not tolerate the heat or run with my kids, ride a bike or fit into the seats of amusement park rides or baseball stadium seats. I had so much trouble walking any distance, I slowed everyone else down.

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What was the secret to slimming down?

Wendy Rowland and family in Cancun

Wendy and her family posing on the beach in Cancun. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Wendy and her family posing on the beach in Cancun. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Making the decision to join Jenny Craig in April of 2010. It took 22 months to achieve my weight loss success with the right combination of delicious food, portion control, exercise and support from family and friends—most notably, my Jenny Craig consultant, Amy. She’s been with me every step of the way acting as a positive voice of reason and an unfailing source of encouragement.

How has your diet changed?
At home, heavy pastas and potatoes have been replaced with more whole grains and lighter sauces. We now include more veggies and fruits with each meal. We have switched to grilled meats and fish with dry rubs instead of oily marinades, breaded pork chops and smothered steaks. The frequent visits we used to have to fast food restaurants are now rare and limited to those with healthier options. I haven’t had a single fast food burger in nearly five years and I don’t miss it! Those things I craved so desperately no longer even make my mouth water.

Our family has also drastically reduced our consumption of sugary drinks, replacing regular soda with a limited amount of diet, and upped our water intake. And while my sons might miss the frequent baking I used to do, when I do indulge, we share the wealth by dispersing the extra cookies to family and friends.


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What types of exercise did you participate in when you first started to focus on losing weight?

Wendy Rowland and family skiing

Wendy and her family skiing. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Wendy and her family skiing. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Being able to run seemed a farfetched dream for myself. I could barely walk up the stairs in my home, let alone run to the end of our driveway—and our driveway wasn't long. I started by doing simple Wii Fit exercises and walking. I walked every single day; at first, for only 10 minutes, which left me breathless. But I kept at it, added distance and eventually wrist and ankle weights, and by the end of that first summer I was up to 2 1/2 miles, incorporating a faster pace and a number of challenging hills into my route.

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How did your family support you on your weight loss journey?

Wendy Rowland and son after half marathon

Wendy and her son after running a half marathon. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Wendy and her son after running a half marathon. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

All my guys (my husband, Chris, and three sons, Drew, AJ and Adam) understood that I needed to change what I was eating and they didn't balk at the gradual healthy changes to our favorite meals. They gave new tastes a try and eventually new favorites emerged. (I cannot remember the last time anyone in this family ate fried chicken, let alone made it). It was also about listening to my successes and reminding me of those during the difficult times. It was about them standing in the rain for my first 5K, enduring the bitter cold for my first (and second. . . and third . . .) half marathons, and never laughing at my plans. My friends noticed and applauded each milestone (10 pounds down, 25 down, 50 down) and listened with genuine interest and patience to each new discovery, recipe idea or exercise routine.

 


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What was the hardest part of your journey?

Wendy Rowland 50th birthday party

Wendy and her family celebrating her 50th birthday. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Wendy and her family celebrating her 50th birthday. Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Battling through the plateaus. Staying the course when the scale doesn’t budge, or even goes up, can be very difficult. Having a consultant to support and encourage me through these times was a big help.  I made up my mind in the beginning that I would not 'cheat' or deviate from the eating plan (not for a birthday, special night out, party, etc.)—something I did for the first nine months. I lost 12 pounds during the dreaded holiday season that first year, and adopted the new mantra: it's a holi-DAY, not a holi-WEEK, or a holi-MONTH. It's a true mantra, and one that has served me well over the past 8 years of this journey.


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What’s the biggest mistake people make when trying to lose weight?

Wendy Rowland in black and red dress

Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

Photo courtesy of Wendy Rowland

They go out too hard, or expect immediate results. Any lifestyle change (it's not a diet!) or exercise program needs realistic, obtainable goals, then new goals as you crush the first. Walk for 10 minutes each day the first week; don't run for miles then have trouble moving the next three days. Don't hit the gym and get discouraged that you aren't lifting the heavy weight—or any weights.

What advice do you have for other moms on slimming down?
Be selfish. You are the only Mom your kids have! Carve out some YOU time to do things that keep you healthy and sane: mind, body and soul. It makes a huge difference in your day; your outlook and your attitude.