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FITNESS | How I Did It

A New Figure and a New State of Mind

June 29, 1998|TEDDY WILSON

I was always "fat." I was in denial about the fact that I was now a mature woman with a severe case of morbid obesity. I was more than 100 pounds overweight and a prime candidate for a heart attack or a stroke. I had high blood pressure and such bad arthritis in my knees that I had to have one replaced and anticipated replacing the other. I couldn't walk without pain, even after the surgery.

Finally, I contacted a local clinic, the Western Institute for Health Maintenance, which functions out of UCLA and has a branch in Sherman Oaks. I spoke to the director, who assured me that if my blood pressure was at a normal level when medicated I could enter the newly popular fen-phen program--if closely supervised. My internist agreed.

My attitude was belligerent and skeptical. The program involved screenings, one-on-one meetings with a dietitian, reviews with a doctor, and blood work and EKGs.

The emphasis at the clinic was on re-education--not just "take a pill, eat as much and whatever you want, and wake up thin." I knew I wouldn't stay on a strict diet, so Sherry, my dietitian, began educating me. The medication suppressed my appetite and, more importantly, helped me develop new eating habits.

I stopped looking for items on a menu that would provide the biggest portions, nor did I desire something fried for every meal. What appealed to me were low-fat, low-calorie preparations, salads and fresh fruit. I learned portion control and soon was weighing everything I ate and reading the calorie content of everything I bought. At restaurants, I started asking for a take-home container when my meal would arrive and removing half of everything before I could be tempted to eat more than I needed.

As my weight decreased, my mobility increased. The second knee replacement was canceled, and my blood pressure medication was cut in half. Now I shop for petite size clothes rather than plus sizes, I've joined a gym, and I work out regularly with a personal trainer. I have even started learning how to line dance.

Between my new eating habits and the new activity, I lost 133 pounds in just over a year.

Today when I meet with people who haven't seen me since last year, I often hear, "Where's the rest of you?" What a thrill.

I have a whole new life. I participate in community activities, attend social functions without trying to hide in a corner, and walk to as many places as possible. I'm excited about the future and grateful for the guidance I received at the Western Institute for Health Maintenance, and the support from my family and friends.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Vital Statistics

Name: Teddy Wilson

Age: 59

Occupation: President of Wilson & Miller Inc., finance and tax consulting

Height: 5 feet, 2 inches

Old Weight: 278 pounds

New Weight: 145 pounds

Time to Get There: A little more than a year

Want to Share Your Success Story?

Losing weight is as individual as gaining weight. Do you have a story on how you got in shape and stayed there? If so, we'd like to hear from you with a 500-word essay listing what worked in terms of diet, exercise, encouragement and support, as well as your emotional and physical changes.

We'd also like you to send us full-body color photos of you, before and after.

Send essay and photos to "How I Did It," Health, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, and include daytime and evening phone numbers. No phone calls, please. Submissions cannot be returned.

In addition to publication, winners will receive a Los Angeles Times gym bag and a gift certificate for a free pair of athletic shoes of your choice, redeemable at any Big 5 Sporting Goods store.

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