Getting – and staying – motivated to lose weight can come from a variety of sources. For one woman, it was the desire to be a role model to her daughters. For another, the support of her friends and family helped keep her on track.
Whatever the motivation, the four women who talked to The Eagle for this story agreed that there is no quick fix to lose weight. Don’t go for the gimmicks, they said, and don’t set unrealistic expectations.
Here are their stories:
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When she was growing up, Erin Wright’s outlet was a plate of food.
“Food became the constant companion in life,” said Wright, 56. “In life, when things happened, when I got stressed out, I would eat.”
Wright – an aviation safety assistant in Wichita – changed all that, though, after finding the online weight loss contest HealthyWage (healthywage.com). She bet herself $400 that she could lose 70 pounds in one year, a feat that sounded impossible at 227 pounds.
“But then I thought, ‘Why can’t I?’ ” she said.
A close friend saw a TV commercial about the contest, in which participants bet money to lose weight. If they succeed, they earn the money back, plus some extra on the side.
After weeks of careful consideration, Wright committed. It was never about the money, she said.
“I wasn’t happy,” she said. “I was insecure. (The contest) lit a spark in me.”
For one year, Wright walked three or four miles a day. Much to her husband’s chagrin, the couple gave up their favorite fine dining restaurants and learned to cook “real,” organic foods, basically following the paleo diet, she said.
Before the diet, Wright said they would eat spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. Now, they eat grilled fish or roast and lots of fresh vegetables, and they replace pasta with spaghetti squash.
“The food industry, I’m sorry, they’re out to kill us,” Wright said, humorously. “The processed food, it is addictive. The more you eat, the more you want.”
Wright shed the weight and was featured in the July issue of Woman’s Day magazine. “I lost 70 pounds!” the headline screams on page 100 of the magazine.
But the year, she said, didn’t come without its struggles.
“There were nights where I would be so edgy, just wanting to eat,” she said. “And I knew I wasn’t hungry. I just sat in my chair and would cry and go, ‘OK, what is this about? What am I feeling?’ ”
Without food to cope, Wright was forced to face issues head-on, with the help of family and friends.
“Feel the feeling,” Wright said she learned. “Feeling upset, feeling sad wasn’t going to kill me. I needed to figure it out – just uncovering layers and layers of stuff I had repressed for years.”
One year and 70 pounds later, Wright earned her $400 back, plus an extra $800. With some of the money, Wright bought her first pair of Miss Me jeans.
“(My daughters) shop at the Buckle all the time,” she said, “and they have all those cute little jeans. And that’s what I wanted.”
Christie Henderson, 39, did it for her two daughters.
“As a teacher and as a mother, I always worry about the message we send to our girls,” said Henderson, a teacher at White Elementary in Wichita.
“As a woman, society says that we should be rail thin. I think what I am trying to show my girls is to be healthy,” she said.
The USD 259 school district offered a weight-loss program as a supplement to health insurance, Henderson said, so she took advantage. She worked with a trainer at the YMCA and learned to cut carbs and make substitutions in her diet.
Since she dropped 100 pounds, her life is a lot more active now, she said. On vacation, she went hiking and explored a waterfall in South Dakota with her children.
“I have three kids, and I’m actually able to participate,” said Henderson, a Newton resident. “I’m able to wake up in the mornings and be full of energy.”
Every day is a decision to be healthy or not, she said.
“I can do anything if I really, truly put my mind to it,” Henderson said. “I, for so many years, had been my own worst enemy.”
Henderson said she worries about what kind of outlets young people go to when they feel down. When she was young, Henderson said, she went to food.
“Being a teenager these days is probably the hardest thing,” she said. “… There’s much healthier options out there,” such as exercise.
“(I wanted) to be a positive role model for both of my girls.”
Marcy Aycock didn’t want to be “fat and 50.”
“I’ve really battled my weight and not always been the best soldier,” said Aycock, of Wichita. “A year ago last November, I decided I was going to win the battle.”
Aycock, 52, had tried various diets – WeightWatchers, Atkins – but learned she needed to be the “master” of her own food program, she said.
Aycock, who recently got a new position as a development manager at the National Academy Foundation, said she drinks lots of water and eats foods high in protein and lots of green, leafy vegetables – not “diet food.”
“There’s no magic bullet,” she said. “There’s no perfect plan. You have to figure out what’s going to work for you.”
Before her 80-pound weight loss, Aycock said she felt like an embarrassment to her children at a size 20.
“I don’t want my teenagers to look around and go, ‘Oh, I have the fat mom,’ ” she said. “… I feel more confident, more comfortable at my work and going to social events.”
Aycock now embraces exercise. She takes cardio classes at the gym and admits she’s not the best in the class.
“I can run up the stairs with a kettlebell, and I can do a plank,” Aycock said. “I didn’t even know what those things were. It’s been a huge thing for me.”
Andrea Scarpelli and her husband, Jim, didn’t have a plan to lose weight. They had a plan to get healthy.
“We just kind of woke up and said, I don’t want to be like this anymore,” she said.
“It really was that we were uncomfortable. We weren’t very active and just felt groggy – just not very alive.”
The Scarpellis, who live in Wichita, looked into Withings, a watch that tracks physical activity, and an application on their smartphones to follow nutrition intake.
“It was contagious,” said Andrea, 53, community president at Simmons First National Bank in Wichita.
Everwhere they went, the Scarpellis talked about their journey to health. Soon, friends and family also got in on the experience, she said, and now a 10-member group cheers each other on to complete 10,000 steps a day.
“I think the thing that is most important is that (the group) is just so encouraging,” she said.
Through e-mail and texts, members of the group push one another to complete step and calorie goals each day. Last month, the group attempted to walk 100 miles in a week. Even the Scarpellis’ 5-year-old granddaughter checks in with members to make sure they’ve met goals.
Scarpelli has lost nearly 30 pounds, she said, while her husband has lost 60. As a whole, Scarpelli suspects the group has lost over 100 pounds.
Scarpelli started CrossFit classes, where she discovered burpees and mountain climbers, of which she said she’s not a fan.
“I’m the old woman at CrossFit, and I always finish last,” she said, laughing. “… I actually really, really love it.”