Not so long ago, schoolteacher Kelly could barely keep stride with her students who were training for a road race. Now fast-forward one year: She's up at 5:30 a.m. during the week to go running, has completed two 10K races, and is preparing to run a half-marathon.
Kelly is not only justifiably proud of herself, but she has served as an inspiration to other teachers and staff at the Wisconsin elementary school where she works -- who have collectively lost close to 400 pounds this past year.
Kelly has come a long way since joining the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic program in May 2005, weighing some 212 pounds (she's now down to 171 and counting). When her students left her in the dust while training for a school race, the 26-year-old knew the time had come to tackle her weight.
Then, as she was surfing the web for medical information about her asthma, she stumbled across the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic.
"It is a perfect fit for me," she says. "I did not want any group meetings, and really needed a program that offered me some privacy and the ability to do it from home."
Kelly says the WLC program "changed my life," because it taught her the principles of a healthful diet and the importance of exercise.
"I used to think dieting meant starvation and skipping meals, but I finally realized it is all about making wise food choices, not deprivation," she explains.
Coping With Cravings
Kelly is thrilled not to be counting points or calories; she just watches portion sizes. Her meals are more consistent, she does not overeat, and yet she never skips a meal. In fact, she says, she's eating more than ever before.
And "with the flexibility of the eating plan, I can break up my meals to meet my needs and my schedule," she says.
Snacks in the school break room can be a challenge for Kelly, so she lets herself indulge one day a week (on Tuesdays).
On other days, healthy snacks help her control midday urges. When they don't, she drinks a big glass of water. And "if that doesn't do the trick, I satisfy my craving for sweets with one Hershey kiss," she says.
To control her food choices at home, Kelly keeps too-tempting food out of sight.
"My motto is, if I binge on it once, it never comes back into the house," declares the disciplined dieter.
Dedication to Exercise
She can hardly believe it herself that she gets up so early in the mornings to run. And while she loves running, she says her true passion is inline skating (at least in the warmer months).
"Wisconsin winters don't allow for rollerblading but when the weather is nice, I get out there at least twice a week to blade and have fun," she says.
Secrets to Success
Finding a diet buddy has been one of the secrets to Kelly's success.
"I found a buddy as soon as I joined the program and we are still good friends," she says. "We are a great fit, and have really been able to lift up and support one another throughout the journey."
Kelly also benefited from reading other WLC members' posts on the message boards, along with advice from the staff. The team weight loss effort at her school proved to be another great form of support and motivation.
Kelly says journaling has also been key to her weight loss. She says logging her food intake two to three times a day helped her become accountable for what she ate.
Her advice to fellow members: Don't give up; believe in yourself; make sure you watch your portions; and lean on your buddy during the tough times.
For her, the result has been not only a new body but a new outlook on life. She says she feels "amazing," and her self-confidence has soared.
"My interaction with other people is so much better," she says. "I feel great about myself and am so proud that I figured out the balancing act and accomplished the weight loss without going overboard. No extremes -- it is just my new lifestyle."
Lost: 41 pounds in one year on the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic program