you do, don't tell Jaci that you can tell she's been on a diet. The 30-year-old mother
of two feels strongly that losing 65 pounds over 4 years was the result of permanent
lifestyle changes-not dieting.
"I actually get mad at people when they say,
'You've been on a diet.' I'm not on a diet. I've never been on a diet. I just changed
the way I eat. I changed the way I live."
If you're looking for an example of
how making small, gradual changes can make a big difference in how you feel and look,
Jaci's the one to turn to.
How it started
says she was watching her two boys grow and felt like she was missing out. "I was
too shy, too self-conscious to go out and do anything," she says. "I didn't like meeting
new people. I didn't feel good. I didn't feel like me. I didn't want to go to the
So she started eating smaller portions, and she cut down on fast foods-little
steps that still allowed her to eat some of her favorite foods (like french fries,
cheesecake, and chocolate chip cookies) once in a while. And she started exercising.
lost about 50 pounds and then hit a plateau. "I got stuck for a year," she says. "It
wasn't a big deal, because I felt like I was maintaining it. I think my body just
got comfortable where it was at."
For Jaci, more exercise was the key to breaking through plateaus.
Her two boys started football, and she began walking and running around the track
while they practiced. "Instead of going home like a lot of people do, I do the track
while I'm at football practice."
These days, exercise is a regular part of her
life and her family's life. "We ride dirt bikes. We do a lot of outdoor activities.
We started skiing again last year. That's been a new thing since I lost the weight.
We started waterskiing again last summer."
Now Jaci tries to exercise at least
5 days a week. When she's not running around a track, she uses an elliptical exercise
machine, a treadmill, a recumbent bike, a regular exercise bike, and weights. She
also has a gym membership. She varies her exercise throughout the year-running track
when her kids are in football practice and playing basketball with them when they
have basketball at school.
Jaci what has helped her lose weight, and she rattles off the list:
down on fast food.
Learning to control portion sizes.
days a week.
Eating breakfast. "I never used to eat breakfast. I had to force
myself to eat breakfast. It gives your body fuel. I used to go without breakfast and
lunch and then at dinner, I would just gorge. I'd be starving."
favorite foods. If she has a craving for french fries, she will eat a small portion
or get a kid's meal if she is at a fast-food place.
Eating her vegetables.
"I love all vegetables."
Being choosy when eating out. "I'll look for something
that is low in fat. I try to eat half of it and box half of it." Sometimes she will
share a meal.
Eating fish. "I never used to like fish before." She thinks
fish that she had before may not have been fresh or cooked right.
snacks. "I find that really helps. I'll have an apple or almonds."
down everything she eats.
Cooking at home as much as possible. "We do a lot
of vegetables. Asparagus has been a big thing with us. The kids like it. My husband
likes it. Grilled stuff-chicken. We grill a lot of vegetables."
The key to success
What has been most important to Jaci's success?
with it. I know people who have lost 100 pounds in a year," she says. "It's taken
me 4 years, and I feel like I know how to do it and I know what I'm doing. I feel
like I have a better chance of keeping it off.
"I think if you lose weight too
fast, it could come back just as quickly as you lost it." She thinks people who do
crash dieting haven't had "the chance to really learn what their body needs and doesn't
need. I think if you lose weight too quickly, for one, you're not doing something
right, something healthy.
"A lot of people I hear, they cut stuff out of their
diet in order to lose weight. I don't think that's healthy. I don't think you can
always keep something out of your diet-like a food group or a type of food. If you
want a hamburger and french fries, have a hamburger and french fries. Just have it
"I don't like to say I can't have something. That's when I feel
it's more a diet than a lifestyle change."
Jaci is part of a weight-loss program with regular weigh-ins and
meetings. "That's a big thing for me, being held accountable."
She likes to
go to the meetings for "the ideas and the struggles. Seeing other people go through
the same thing is probably the best part about the meetings."
"Once people started
noticing and saying, 'Wow, you look great,' even after 10, 15 pounds… that gave me
the confidence to know, 'Hey, I can do this.' "
Jaci's story reflects her experiences
as told in an interview. The photograph is not of Jaci, to protect her privacy.
Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne
C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Kathleen Romito,
MD - Family Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family
Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.
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