Prior to my 58th birthday, I was a woman who had joined six to eight gyms, gone on every weight-loss program that had been popular the last 38 years and shunned all avenues of sports and exercise since taking golf lessons in high school. I was a classic "yo-yo" dieter, going on a popular diet, shedding the weight, only to put it back on.
In March 1997, I turned 58. I was 5 feet, 3 1/2 inches, 178 pounds, and my blood pressure was 155/95. My cholesterol count was a high 248. All of this with a history of lower-back pain, caused by a herniated lower disc. To say that my husband and two grown daughters were concerned about my heaviness and longevity was a gross understatement. In an act of major desperation, my dear husband, Pat, bought me six sessions and an evaluation with a private trainer. That gift certificate sat on my dresser for two months before I had the courage to act upon it.
May 19, 1997, was a turning point in my life. I walked through the doors of IFC (Independent Fitness Consultants) and met the man who would turn me into an athlete, Bob Moore. I had a preconceived idea that I only wanted to improve my health and was not interested in going on another diet. The first couple of sessions, I was exposed to the weight-training equipment. I thought I looked pretty silly trying to lift a barbell. After 15 minutes on the treadmill, I was exhausted. But an amazing thing happened: I was having a good time. Within two weeks, I was slowly giving way to the diet. Bob was proving to me that I was not getting enough fuel for my body to complete the workouts. Over the next few weeks, I found the value of the combination of a sound diet and exercise program that IFC provides.
All I had to do was meet my appointment and let my trainer, Bob, guide me for that session. This was more valuable than just going to a gym with no direction. Staying home when I felt tired was no longer an excuse.
In the past year I achieved goals I once thought unattainable. As my statistics indicate, I have lost weight (43 pounds) and inches, and developed a sound muscle and strength base. In addition, my new diet has provided me with better eating habits.
Today, I am 59, weigh 135 pounds and wear a size 8 swimsuit. My blood pressure is 120/70. I have had no back pain, nor have I had to take medication for my back in over a year. More important, my enthusiasm, excitement and dedication to continue my program is at a new high.
I am having the time of my life!
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.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Name: Joan Connelly
Occupation: Nursery school
Height: 5 feet, 3 1/2 inches
Old Weight: 178
New Weight: 135
Time to Get There: 16 months