Lost 120.6 pounds!
Height 5'9", Age:
West Palm Beach, FL
Cynthia struggled with both a binge-eating disorder and compulsive eating for much of her life. Every few years, she would try a new diet, or another weight-loss strategy, like medication, a point system, juice fast, or meal replacement shakes — she even tried the South Beach Diet once almost ten years ago, but she wasn’t able to fully commit to it the first time. “I finally gave in and just ate exactly what I wanted, when I wanted,” says Cynthia.
But things changed for Cynthia when her sister got pregnant. She was looking forward to becoming an aunt. But at the same time, she was rapidly closing in on that 400-pound mark and her body was rebelling. “I felt trapped in a fat suit. My body was a stranger to me,” Cynthia explains. She was beginning to have trouble climbing stairs and walking across parking lots.
Cynthia had watched relatives suffer with obesity-related illness and pain, including her grandmother, who lost both her eyesight and her feet from diabetes. She saw herself hurtling toward a similar future. “I imagined watching my niece’s life from the sidelines, unable to fully participate,” says Cynthia. “I wondered if I would bring shame or embarrassment to her, or worse. I realized that my eating would be a bad influence on her and that it would continue the cycle of obesity in my family.”
As she neared her 40th birthday, Cynthia became determined to become a healthier person and a good role model for her niece. “I knew I had to change dramatically, or be fat and sick and self-conscious for the rest of my life,” she recalls. Cynthia wanted the second half of her life to be different. “I wanted to be active. I wanted to play again. I wanted to be free,” she says.
That’s when she made a firm no-cheat commitment. And for the first time, Cynthia acknowledged her eating disorder as an addiction and treated it as such. “It has made all the difference,” says Cynthia.
“I also quickly learned that even in ‘legal’ portions, bread, crackers, whole-grain chips, etc., set off my binge compulsions, so I just cut them out of my diet. I still eat starches,” she admits, “but I stick to things like brown rice, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, and oatmeal.”
The South Beach Diet gave Cynthia control over her eating and taught her how to put food back into perspective. “I became energetic and excited about taking care of my body,” says Cynthia.
Cynthia’s partner, Frank, is an avid cyclist. He encouraged Cynthia to purchase a beach-cruiser bike. “The free-flying, weightless thrill of being on a bike was a revelation,” she says. Cynthia began rushing home from work to ride laps around her neighborhood. “But that wasn't enough,” she says. Soon, Cynthia was using her bike to pick up groceries and riding six miles to work every day. She would challenge herself to see how long she could go without using her car. She and Frank started planning long elaborate trips on the weekends, cycling 10 to 15 miles round-trip. Now, Cynthia is ready to go even further! “On February 23, 2013, I'll be riding 32 miles to raise money for the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach,” exclaims Cynthia.
Cynthia says that the South Beach Diet has given her a way of eating that makes sense. “It’s a habit. I don’t have to devote so much energy to counting calories or points. It’s a way to just live. I understand the balance now.”
“Cheating is harder than not cheating. That’s the big revelation. People assume that having little bits of bad things in moderation is better. I also thought silly things like I don’t want to live a life without ice cream. Or cookies. Or bread. Or chips. Now, I think those simple carbs really cloud your thinking.”
“I try to always have a vegetable and a protein for a snack, and never a starch. Usually, it’s carrots or grape tomatoes with a cheese stick or nuts. While I was on Phase 2, I love a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt mixed with sugar free white chocolate pudding. I follow the recipe on the box, just use yogurt instead of milk. It tastes like cheesecake and it's great with blueberries!”
“I’m an avid cyclist now. I also walk around the lake in our neighborhood with my fiancé. He’s been a great supporter through all of this. When I first started, most exercise was too hard for me. I started by dancing in my living room for one song, and then I went from there.”
Effective Weight-Loss Strategy
“Don’t give yourself permission to cheat or to ‘be off plan for a while.” Make it work no matter what is happening. Get into routines and stick with them. Find ways to keep it fresh. Plan! I always carry snacks. When I started, I also sat down with my partner and told him that I felt like I had a real problem with food and I asked him for support and told him how he could help me. Frank eats what I eat and supplements with extra portions. If he is going to have something around that isn’t good for me, he tucks it away where I won’t see it. He is really protective of me. That has made a big difference. You need support.”
“I just turned 40 a couple of weeks ago. I look younger and feel better than I have in decades. It makes me feel like I’m getting younger instead of older and it makes me feel like life is full of possibilities. I also like that people assume I’ve had surgery to accomplish what I have accomplished. I enjoy being able to tell them, ‘No. Just healthy eating and exercise.’ Additionally, I like that I’m never hungry and that I feel like I can do this forever — and that’s important when you are trying to lose over 200 pounds.”
“Losing weight will always be in your ‘someday’ plans if you don’t start and stick with it. Set a start date, plan, clean, shop, and then start. People tell me how strong I am and how they envy my willpower. They act like it’s something I found within myself, but it’s not. Being strong is a choice. I choose to be strong and I have to keep choosing to be strong. I have a long way to go, but I choose to be strong.”