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Fitness | How I Did It

Unexpected Inspiration From a Support Group

April 19, 1999|JULIE DELGADO

In 1994, my best friend talked me into joining a weight-loss group with her. I am an addicted walker but had been noticing that I was getting short of breath while walking up hills. My mother had been a non-exerciser and overweight; I knew I needed to change some of my habits.

I had had three knee surgeries and a major back surgery, and had been putting on weight slowly. No one noticed but me. The extra pounds didn't show as much on me as on some people. But I knew that I had to do something and refused to buy clothes any size bigger than the 14-16 I was wearing then.

When my friend and I first started with the group, I didn't think it was going to work. In our first few meetings, we were two very quiet women listening to other people's stories of exercise and eating habits and thinking that we would quit soon. But when the pounds started dropping off--slowly at first--and I started to feel better and had to buy clothes in smaller sizes, I really got into all the meal planning, more walking and exercising, and feeling good about myself.

I marked down everything I ate for breakfast and lunch, and whatever was left in my daily plan was served with a half-head of lettuce and various veggies for dinner.

Eventually, my friend and I raised our hands high when our leader would ask, "Who resisted temptation this week?" I'd reply, "They had doughnuts at work, and I didn't eat any." The leader would then ask who had exercised more that week, and again I would brag.

My husband and I retired to Big Bear a year ago, and I walk three days a week, do senior aerobics three days a week, with Tae-Bo in between and golf two to three times a week in the summer. I've maintained my goal weight for 4 1/2 years and feel great.

I thank the weight group for giving me a new outlook on life. I know now that I have many happy and slim years of retirement ahead of me.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Vital Statistics

Name: Julie Delgado

Age: 56

Occupation: Retired secretary

Height: 5 feet, 6 inches

Old weight: 167

New weight: 137

Time to get there: One year

How Did You Do It?

Do you have a story about how you lost weight and kept the pounds off? Or a story about how you learned to mountain climb or in-line skate, trained for a half-marathon or discovered a unique way of keeping fit, dealing with a nagging ailment or persevering with a fitness regimen despite some obstacles?

If so, we'd like to hear from you. Tell us your story in a 500-word essay listing what worked in terms of diet, exercise and encouragement, as well as any emotional and physical changes.

For weight-loss stories, send us full-body color photos of yourself, before and after. For other types of stories, send a color photo of yourself doing the activity you're writing about.

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

In addition to publication, winners will receive a Los Angeles Times Health section gym bag.

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