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Name: Allison Roberts
Weight Before: 290 pounds
Weight After: 160 pounds
Pounds Lost: 130
Time at Current Weight: 2 years
A bribe in her teens led to a 20-year pattern of yo-yo dieting for Allison Roberts. "I weighed 200 pounds in the ninth grade, and my mom told me she'd buy me a leather jacket if I lost 50 pounds," says the documentation specialist from East Hartford, Connecticut. Allison restricted her calories to 1,000 per day and eventually got her jacket -- wine-colored and belted. But one can only subsist on grapefruit and tuna for so long. Allison gained back the weight, and lost it, and gained it back...eventually hitting 290 pounds in her late 30s.The Plane Truth
Allison would typically keep the weight off for six months (through low-calorie diets, no exercise), then pack it back on during periods of bingeing. Her seesaw eating and sluggish lifestyle led to a slew of health problems by the age of 35, including high blood pressure, chronic heartburn, and aching feet from carrying almost 300 pounds on a five-foot, four-inch frame. "I couldn't do anything active and I felt like I was missing out," she recalls. "I went to a ski resort with my family and friends and I was too embarrassed to even try it; I just stayed in the chalet and read a book." The coup de grace? On a trip to Hawaii four years ago, she was mortified when the airplane dinner tray wouldn't lie flat over her lap.No More Yo-Yo
Something had to change, so Allison decided to try Weight Watchers. "Over the years, I had a lot of significant motivational moments, but none of them got me to make permanent changes in my eating habits," she says. This time, the impetus to lose weight was matched with an eating program she could really live with. Allison dropped 20 pounds in two months. Inspired, she started walking the connecting walkway between Hartford and East Hartford (about one-half mile total) on her lunch breaks three times a week. Within a year, she had lost 100 pounds and beefed up her exercise routine by joining a gym, shedding another 30 pounds.
Today virtually nothing keeps Allison from daily exercise -- even when she has to squeeze it in at four on busy mornings. "Working out has made me feel younger than I did at 20," she says.
The Diet: "For breakfast, I have a bowl of oatmeal made with skim milk, plus a banana or an apple. Lunch is turkey and fat-free cheese on whole wheat bread, a salad, and a 6-ounce cup of yogurt. Dinner is grilled chicken breast, a baked potato, and spinach. I snack on baby carrots, soy chips, and fat-free popcorn."
Fast-Food Strategy: "When I'm running errands, I'll go to Subway or Boston Market or grab a pre-made salad at the grocery store."
The Workout: "Seven days a week, I do some kind of cardio, whether it's 60 minutes on the treadmill or Arc Trainer or workout videos at home. I also do 30 minutes of upper- and lower-body sculpting three times a week."
On Her iPod: "I love mystery/suspense novels, especially the Stephanie Plumb series by Janet Evanovich and the Kinsey Millhone books by Sue Grafton. I listen to them on the treadmill -- it makes workout time fly."
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2006.