A balance of Mind-Body-Spirit

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Inspiration

Teacher loses 120 pounds through healthy eating and exercising

MARTINSBURG, West Virginia (CNN) -- Hardly a day that goes by that you won't find Tracey Wygal working out at the gym.
The 30-year-old middle-school teacher does cardio exercise, strength trains and follows what she calls a "clean diet."
That's quite a change for a woman who tipped the scales eight years ago at 295 pounds.
Wygal first started gaining weight in her early teens. A fast-food diet and little to no exercise helped her pack on the pounds, and her weight ballooned to over 200 pounds.
"It was my first year out of college, and that number, along with being diagnosed as morbidly obese, was very frightening," remembers Wygal. "I went to several doctors, trying to get them to prescribe a weight-loss pill."
But none of her doctors would give her the quick fix she was looking for. Instead, a physician handed her a 1,600-calorie-a-day diet and told her to start moving.
At first, Wygal was shocked and refused to begin a diet that she thought was too restrictive. Even though her weight was rapidly approaching 300 pounds, she believed she had a pretty good diet and an active lifestyle. of her life.
She started by keeping track of her daily calorie intake in a food diary and soon realized that her eating was worse than she thought. I was amazed by how many calories I was eating," Wygal said. "The food diary showed me that I really needed to get my food intake under control and helped me maintain my diet realistically."
She also started exercising.
At first, Wygal says, she was too embarrassed to go to a gym, so she bought an elliptical machine and started working out 15 minutes a day in her apartment.
"It was all I could do at first. I didn't give up, though," she said. "Gradually, my endurance improved. After losing about 30 pounds, I decided to join a small gym."
Several months later, Wygal was ready to take the next step. She hired a trainer and began a short strength-training program.
That's when something clicked.
Instead of feeling intimidated, Wygal started to love her workouts and the physical changes taking shape with her body. Ready to take the next step, she joined a larger gym, began researching different workouts and got into weight training.
Over the next three years, she lost 120 pounds and dropped seven dress sizes. Wygal, who's 5 feet 10 inches tall, says the fear of gaining weight motivates her to stick to her diet and exercise regimen because she never wants to look like she did at 295 pounds.
Now comfortable with her weight, which she says fluctuates between 170 and 180 pounds, Wygal works out at least five to six days a week. She says the key to losing weight and keeping it off is being honest about what you eat, writing it down and staying consistent. She wants people to know they can do it, but there are no quick fixes or easy outs -- just hard work.
"It won't happen overnight," Wygal advises. "Know that it will take time but it is worth it in the end."


Cindy said...

This is a great article, Leonie.
Though I did not lose that much I could relate. I finally knew I HAD to lose weight.

It began with rules, to keep me on track.

Now it has turned into more--- the feeling of strength, the motivation to challenge myself, seeing my body change and feeling more connected to it.

Thanks for posting!

Rachel May said...

Amazing. I always think about my weight loss struggle over 35-45 lbs and admire the people who do it with more to lose. Your blog about your weight loss was great too Leonie. Better, because I know you!

My favorite part of this article was that no one would just give her a pill to make it better. They gave her the tools she needed. Why can't more doctors be like that?

Leonie said...

I thought this article, and the Diet Girl book/blog, were helpful cos it wasn't about magical recipes and didn' say it was easy - just about body image, clean eating and working out and TIME.

Niamh said...

Leonie, i agree about the accentuated word "TIME." Once I got over the idea that I had to lose 10lbs by next month, or my next birthday, or some set date, I felt a lot better and have been eating a lot healthier! :-)

Leonie said...

You are like me, then - just doing it for life rather than by a set date takes the time pressure off me and thus works. For me.

A balance of Mind-Body-Spirit

Thought for the Day

"Good friends are good for your health."

~Irwin Sarason

"Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! And happy people just don't shoot their husbands!"

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde