Before: 230 lbs.
After: 123 lbs.
Program used: CalorieKing.com
Linda Medley, 48, was once an exhausted working mom, unable to scale a single flight of stairs without panting. Her knees, hips and feet constantly ached.
Linda, who lives in Durand, Ill., began burying her feelings in food when she was pregnant with her first child, Margaret, now 15. What should have been a deliriously happy time was shattered by her sisters death from cancer, and Linda soothed her grief with food.
She continued overeating through the subsequent pregnancy and birth of her son, Andrew, in 1993, climbing up to a weight of 230 lbs. a tremendous burden for her 5-foot-3 frame.
But when she was choked awake one February night by acid reflux a digestive malady common to overweight people Linda realized that her eating habits could well be to blame for her physical ailments. She thought of her colleague Penny Fulfer. Penny, 13 years older than Linda, had doggedly dieted and exercised off 50 lbs. Linda thought: If she can do it, so can I.
Slimming Down (Without Starving)
The next morning, Linda went to Durand Elementary, where she worked as an aide in the computer lab, and devoured all the candy contraband she kept in her classroom closet. Finally free of temptation, she logged on to Calorie King (calorieking.com), an Internet service that helps dieters track their food and exercise, and troubleshoot problems with fellow dieters on message boards. She signed up on March 3, 2003, vowing, I will never allow myself to feel like Im suffering, even though she allowed herself a mere 1,200 calories a day.
Each day, Linda budgeted in small portions of her favorite foods peanut butter and full-fat cheese so as not to feel deprived. And still the flab flew off at a rate of 4 lbs. sometimes even 6 per week.
But the new-and-improved Linda refused every cupcake and cookie offered to her at Durand Elementary, recounts her newly retired friend Penny, who worked as a librarian at the school.
Getting Honest, Getting Thin
After Linda hit a diet plateau, she took stock of every piece of food she had been putting into her mouth. She had to admit that the beloved peanut butter she allowed herself each day had grown significantly from a level tablespoon. I was logging 100 calories of peanut butter, but I was eating 300, she admits. Once I got honest with myself, I started losing weight again.
She also got moving to boost her calorie burn. You know how you tell your kids to go upstairs and get the laundry? I quit doing that and went and got it myself, she says. Margaret and Andrew were thrilled.
Finally, on March 28, 2005, Linda hit 123 lbs. She felt like a new woman. Adios, acid reflux; hello, sweet uninterrupted sleep. Goodbye, elasticized fat-old-lady pants. Hello, hipster capris. Even her feet, so long obscured by her belly, had shrunk from a size 8 to a size 7.
It felt terrific, she says, to slip into a slinky, size-6 evening dress to attend the wedding of her stepson in September, and it felt even better when her husband, David, 52, a truck-repair foreman, announced, You look very beautiful.
And then theres the payoff in pride and health. Im taking tae kwon do, she says. It just amazes me that I can keep up with my kids. Weight loss is the ultimate act of self-love, continues Linda, because youre not doing it for anyone but yourself. You feel so good, mentally and physically, when you accomplish what you set out to do.