During my Fitness Instructor days, I had a healthy weight and fitness level. I had plenty of energy and stamina. But after leaving my fitness career in the late 1990s I slowly gained weight over the next few years and finally topped out at over 300 pounds!! I had no energy or stamina and ‘hit bottom’ when my doctor cautioned me that she was going to have to put me on medication for cholesterol after already increasing my high blood pressure medication. That was it! I had to make a change and because I wanted get healthy and be ‘happy’ with myself again!
I knew I had to lose weight (again) and ‘lamented’, not again. I had dieted and lost weight 3 other times in the past but did not want to face another ‘fad’ diet only to put it back on after a few months (or years). So, for a few months, I took a few ‘baby steps’ on my own and dieted and worked out on my own with little success. I also knew I needed to get back to the gym but could not find one I was comfortable in committing. I did not want to go to one of the chain gyms and I wanted to get back to doing what I used to love, which was AEROBICS. While investigating a new gym in my Silver Spring neighborhood, I found my local Weight Watchers’ meeting location and thought, ‘why not give it a try’! I decided to ‘just walk in and try it out”. What did I have to lose, right?!...I weighed 292 pounds. My body fat percentage was over 40% and my BMI was over 35+, which is Morbidly Obese.
I was unsure when I first started, so I read all the Weight Watcher material, and went to a few meetings to ‘get the feel’ of it. I began following the program bit by bit. Each meeting gave me enough confidence to change a little more each week and I just stayed with it. The meetings, the support and helpful life style changes ‘made sense’ to me and I followed them readily. Little by little these changes gave me the confidence to stay with the program and incorporate more changes into my life. The program also encouraged me incorporate exercise so this was my ‘big push’ to return to the gym, too! As I mentioned, I used to be an aerobics instructor and I secretly desired to return, but the weight and lack of stamina stood in my way. I had not yet found a gym that was ‘comfortable with’ or had the aerobics program and instructors that I liked. While looking at some old photos of myself during my ‘fitness instructor’ days, I remember Dega and Fit Physique and decided to reach out to her to see what she might suggest. I had lost touch with Dega and staff so I was not sure if she would remember me, but she did, and told me to come over and try out the gym and some of the aerobic classes for two week ‘for FREE” to see if I liked it and if it met my needs!!! Wow…I thought, “No gym does that”! Of course, loved it and JOINED!!!
The Weight Watchers program is built on four pillars that are critical for weight management: diet, activity, support, and behavior. Weight Watchers’ success comes from encouraging its members to make a lot of little changes over time as well as setting attainable goal for your weight loss journey. You learn how to track all your food and assign a “point factor’ for the amount and type of food. You also keep track of your activity in order to maintain a healthy balance of diet and exercise. You gradually learn to change negative behaviors and food choices by attending meeting and seeking counseling from the Weight Watcher Leaders, Staff and other members. The ‘meeting room’ as it is called, is like a ‘group therapy’ that provides great support and knowledge.
I attend the weekly meetings regularly and incorporate them into my ‘extended’ exercise routine at City Fitness. I attended the aerobic classes that I loved, and also, work with a Trainer, Alex, who helped me begin to strengthen major muscles that had not been ‘worked’ in several years! I even challenged myself early on and attended a few of Lucinda’s Yoga Classes which helped me with the flexibility I had lost years ago!! I received great support from my family, friends and City Fitness ‘family’ family as well, which kept me motivated and ‘on-point’.
Over the next few months I successfully attained my 5lbs., 10 lbs., and 5% weight loss goals. Three months after starting Weight Watchers, I even reached my 25 lbs. weight loss goal «In September 2011; I reach my 1st major Weight Watcher Goal, by losing 10% of my starting weight or 29lbs..!! My jeans were a lot looser, as well as a lot of my other clothes. I was even able to make it through about 20 minutes Arthur’s Step It Up” Aerobic Class!!! A MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT! I was getting my ‘stamina’ back and my ‘energy’ levels continued to increase to level that enabled me to exercise even more!
One of the best feelings at Weight Watcher Meetings is when the members share their successes ‘on and off’ the scale. Each week members share their major milestones, goals, weight loss (sometimes there are gains!) and what they have learned that week to meet their weight loss challenge. One of the highlights for all of us is when you receive your milestone awards/chips for increments of 25 lbs. I had been ‘eyeing’ the 75 lbs. chip for months and wanted to add it to my other milestone chips that I wore on a necklace. When I finally attained it I could not wait to share it with Dega, Sara, Imani, Lucinda and all the others at City Fitness who encouraged me every day that I could do it!
Losing the weight gave me the courage do to something else I had wanted to do for over 10 years…’dance Salsa”. I now had the stamina, and better coordination (Thanks Arthur) to take more demanding classes, like Salsa, Bachata, and Aerobic Dance! I now dance 3 (and sometimes 5) times a week! My Weight Watcher Leader, LaVonda ‘affectionately’ calls me “Salsa King” and I love that! I’ve even encouraged fellow Weight Watcher members to participate in the dance classes, or whatever makes them feel good…just move! I've met some fantastic 'salsaleros' and ‘bachateros’ friends who keep me moving to the Latin Beat!
After 14 months working the program and starting this journey, I reach my final weight loss goal of 182 pounds! That’s 110 pounds removed! (in LaVonda ‘speak’). My body fat percentage is below 15%, my BMI is 21 (all normal/healthy ranges) and my stamina is back 110%. My doctor has cut my high blood pressure medicine in half and could remove it altogether after this year’s physical if my pressure readings continue to trend normal on lesser medications. Losing weight has changed my life and WWs has given me the tools, motivation, courage, and support to keep going! For the first time in 20 years I know I can do it! I do it every day, by tracking my food, following WW good health guidelines, dancing, running, lifting weights, and power walking my way toward my weekly activity points!
I now realize that I can do anything that I desire and put my mind to accomplish, because I have the strength, courage, stamina, and discipline to make it happen! Thanks to Weight Watchers and getting FIT at City Fitness! I have the LIFE I wanted BACK and I’m enjoying it to the fullest! Next Goal! Weight Watcher Leader, so that I can motivate others to reach their Weight Loss Goals!