Silver Spring, Md.
Certified group trainer and aspiring children's book writer
45, married, two children ages 7 and 5
From an 18 to an 8
Eating high-volume food, filled with water, air or fiber, that is low in calories so she feels full. This "volumetrics" approach lets her eat plenty without feeling deprived. "The part of dieting that was stressful for me was feeling excluded all the time," from eating food.
Snacks, especially anything with added sugar, which stokes her appetite. "If I eat sugar, I will be looking for something else. Sugar sends me to chips. It just doesn't end."
The freedom to eat anything in any amount one day a week. "Saturdays are my free day. That's all mine. It's guilt-free." If food cravings arise during the week for ice cream, cheesecake, doughnuts or pizza, she waits until Saturday to indulge. The surprise? "When I get to the free day, I'm not as interested in eating them any more." On Friday night, she and her family plan their food splurges for Saturday -- and also plan how to do extra exercise to work off the added calories.
Fruit, fiber, exercise and prayer. "I was raised with Caribbean parents, so fruit is huge for me. I need mangos and other fruit in my diet." Also, vegetables, brown rice and steel cut oatmeal with plenty of fiber are standard fare. And when things get tough, she turns to prayer for the "strength to let God get me through the day."
Being sidelined for six weeks with a sprained ankle injured while dancing in the 2006 Thanksgiving Day parade. "I don't have the genetic make-up to stay lean without work…I thought I would mess up and start eating.
She worked with a physical therapist, did isometric exercises until the doctor okayed workouts. Besides being a fitness instructor, she walks every evening or exercises briefly at home in addition to a 3-2-1 plan: Three weekly workouts of cardio, two of strength training, one of them on a stability ball, and one of stretching. "I do what I make my clients do."
Feeling breathless after carrying her then infant daughter up a flight of stairs. "That really clinched it for me. I thought, 'I'm too young for this. I'm not 75 years old." Also, "my husband was just really, really unhappy seeing that I wasn't the woman that I used to be. I just wasn't the woman he knew. My energy was just gone."
Learning how to eat healthier, great tasting fare that is satisfying. She snacks on almond and peanut butter, has fruit for dessert, adds nuts to salads, eats dark green leafy greens instead of iceberg lettuce and even sometimes fixes a salad for breakfast. "I feel really full."
The joy of wearing a "slim" dress that has been hanging in her closet since her single days. "I had been holding onto it for years and now I can get back into it."
"I learned from the Lean Plate Club that this is an investment and to be realistic about your weight loss expectations. I've also learned that fad diets don't work. You need to respect your body. I'm not starlet skinny. I'm a pear-shaped Caribbean woman. That's okay with me. I'm proud of my curves. And I'm having so much fun! My husband says, 'You are the sexiest darn wife in the world. You look hot. You look great.'"