Like Mother, Like Daughter (Slim!)
Jodie Boehm and her mom, Eileen Niemann, took a weight-loss journey together and left 174 lbs. behind
Before: 236 lbs.
After: 155 lbs.
Before: 268 lbs.
After: 175 lbs.
Program used by both: Weight Watchers
When Jodie Boehm, now 30, was a little girl, her well-meaning mother always urged her to clean her plate. Eager to please Mom, she did even when she no longer lived at home. When she was pregnant with Emily, now 6, and Cameron, now 4, Jodie insisted on standing with her back to the scale during weigh-in at the doctors office, so she couldnt see the number.
At 268 lbs., being fat was a fact of Jodies life. Sometimes she despaired over it, sometimes she accepted it and sometimes she just plain felt guilty like when she would limit her kids consumption of junk food, only to head for the chips and ice cream as soon as she put them to bed.
But three years ago, when Jodie, a stay-at-home mom, and her husband, Peter, 32, an insurance compensation consultant, moved to Enfield, Conn., Jodie, who had always been the fat, funny girl in high school, decided she didnt want to be the fat mom. A neighbor mentioned that she attended Weight Watchers meetings, so Jodie decided to tag along. Eager to avoid setting herself up for disappointment, she told herself shed attend just to see how it goes.
It went, all right. The first month, 20 lbs. vanished from Jodies 5-foot-6-inch frame as she exchanged creamy macaroni platters for petite portions of whole-wheat pasta with spinach and shrimp. (Peter ate the lightened-up dishes, but heaped on extra cheese.)
Jodie exercised to Pilates videos and recorded every morsel she consumed in a weight-loss journal. Jodies mom, Eileen Niemann, 59, who lives nearby in Ellington, watched with awe and pride as her daughters flab fell off. Jodie wanted Eileen, who had been heavy all her life, to try Weight Watchers, too. But Eileen didnt feel ready to take on her fat.
OK, Im ReadyThen, in December 2003, Eileen, who at 5 feet 5 inches tall weighed 236 lbs., wrenched her knee, leaving her hobbled and in pain. The orthopedist told her she needed to reduce the burden on her worn-out joints. So Eileen joined Weight Watchers, too. I was so excited, Jodie exclaims. My mom and I have always been really close. I wanted so much to help her get in good health. They attended meetings together every Thursday night. Jodie knew her mother loathed breakfast, so she called her every morning to make sure she had eaten something before she left for her job as an office manager.
Conversely, Eileen knew that Jodie suffered from the munchies at night, and would call her then to make sure she didnt succumb to temptation. They compared notes on low-cal cookbooks, taking care never to buy the same ones so they could swap. Most of all, says Jodie, just hearing her mom say Keep going encouraged her to stay on track.
Jodie wasnt the only one sticking to the diet. Eileen lost 8 lbs. in her first month, trading mile-high pastrami sandwiches for lean turkey on a slice of low-cal bread covered with greens. She lost about 2 lbs. a week, but no one noticed the first 40 lbs. because I started out so heavy! As her knee healed, Eileen began using a stationary bike and a rowing machine.
Mutual Admiration SocietyJodie and Eileen started augmenting their daily phone calls with long walks together. We got so much closer, says Jodie. Weight was always a taboo subject, but by talking about how food affected us we realized we were a lot alike: We saw food as a friend. We realized we needed to see it as just fuel.
In May 2004, Jodie weighed in to find that shed lost 100 lbs. The group leader crowned her with a tiara and tossed confetti. Jodie shrieked with joy. Eileen beamed. When Eileen hit her goal 155 lbs. in May 2005, Jodie celebrated, too. I was so excited, I cried, recalls Jodie. I was just so proud of her. My mother is almost 60 years old. For her to completely change her lifestyle and food habits something that a young person is much more likely to do well, I applaud her.
Total LiberationEileen now leaps out of bed on her springy knees, revved up with energy. Most liberating? Her tastes have changed, she reports: Ill get halfway through a bowl of ice cream and realize that I dont even enjoy it!
When Jodie boards a plane, she no longer has to cover up her lap so the attendant wont notice the seat-belt extender she just buckles up. She feels playful and energetic chasing her kids, and she loves slipping into sexy sleeveless dresses. When Jodie edged up 20 lbs. over the 2005 Christmas holiday, she reopened her food diary and got back on her program. Eileen is confident her driven daughter will get back to her goal weight: Shes really strong. After all, Jodie taught Eileen a lot of what she now knows. Her weight loss just clubbed me over the head, says Eileen. You really can learn something from your kids!
For her part, Jodie can think of no one she would have rather taken along on her amazing weight-loss journey. It just felt so cool to help my mom do this, says Jodie, who lauds Eileen for being a fountain of compassion, wisdom and love throughout her life. It was one way to thank her for all she has done for me.