132 poundsProgram used:
"I was a career dieter," says Sheree Kearns, of her addiction to fad weight-loss plans. I did the liquid protein diet, the grapefruit diet and the hard-boiled-egg diet. Even as a teenager, I asked the doctor for diet medication!"
This Jeannette, Penn., homemaker packed on more pounds than ever after giving birth to her daughter, Jennifer, and son, Jason, in her late 20s. Sheree cooked every day for her family — and, naturally, taste-tested everything in the kitchen. By age 35, the 5-foot-5 stay-at-home mom weighed 232 pounds.
I was always exhausted, Sheree, now 48, says. My feet hurt. I couldnt play with the kids. And buying size-24 clothes was torture. I had to shop at plus-size clothing stores, and whenever I left one, Id hide the bag. I was so embarrassed!
By 1993, Sheree realized she had to get help. My self-esteem was at an all-time low, she recalls.
Weight Watchers, with its focus on normal-size portions, calorie management and large amounts of whole foods, seemed like a sensible way to go, Sheree says. There was only one problem: I kept skipping weigh-ins and meetings. After three years, she had lost just 16 pounds.
By 1996, she had practically abandoned the plan — and was deeply discouraged. Reflecting on her string of fad diets, she realized that shed been looking for a quick fix. As a result, Id never really committed to the lifestyle changes needed to bring about lasting weight loss.
That year, she started Weight Watchers again, vowing not to miss a meeting. She identified situations that caused her to overeat and devised clever ways to sidestep them. She asked her husband to watch her in the kitchen, to make sure she didnt cheat. And at restaurants, she banned herself from supersizing her portions, instead ordering healthy meals. Soon she was shedding 1.5 pounds a week. The weight fell off, Sheree says. It was a revelation.
Dancing Off the Pounds
Sheree lost 84 pounds in 16 months. My feet stopped hurting, she marvels. I ran up stairs and could actually breathe. I even bought clothes off the rack!
Flush with success, she still knew she had one roadblock to contend with: exercise. Sheree loathed all types of repetitive workouts. After five minutes on a step platform, I think Im going to die, she reveals. I find it mind-numbingly boring.
Then friends at Weight Watchers introduced her to Dance Dance Revolution, an interactive Japanese video game that requires users to follow random, lightning-fast dance steps that light up on an electric mat. (My son had to hook it up for me, Sheree admits.) Playing it burns up to 640 calories an hour. It had me rolling on the ground laughing, says Sheree. You get so involved, you dont think about how long youve been doing it.
Wow! Thats Me?
Sherees determination didnt escape her Weight Watchers leader, Peggy Powers. As the group member approached her goal weight of 132 pounds, Peggy asked her if she was interested in becoming a leader herself. Sheree was religious about keeping track of everything she ate, and always came up with new recipes, Peggy explains. And she really lived the program with her family (including daughter Jennifer, 23, who eventually shed 20 pounds on Weight Watchers). I knew shed be a tremendous role model.
Eight years later, Sheree is still leading groups — and she still loves her job. I never stop seeing myself in the members, she reflects. In a way, that extra 100 pounds was a gift. If Id never been overweight, I would never have been able to help anyone else through it.
Her weight loss has leveled off, but she still pays attention to what she eats: Ive committed to being on this program for life, Sheree explains. The rewards, after all, are worth it. After I hit my goal, I saw a woman in a restaurant and thought, I wish I looked like her, she recalls. I scanned up, and saw that it was me — in a mirror! It was unbelievable to see what I had accomplished.