"I Saved My Health"
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Fitness

"I Saved My Health"

Diagnosed with osteoporosis at age 21, Christina Bomberger made slow but steady diet and lifestyle changes that got big weight-loss results.

Healthy Body, Second Chance

Name: Christina Bomberger
Age: 27
Height: 5'3"
Weight Before: 165
Weight After: 110
Pounds Lost: 55
Time at Current Weight: 2 years

One day, Christina Bomberger walked into her local Victoria's Secret and spent $400 on bras -- a major splurge to celebrate her new body. "It's thrilling to shop for fun, sexy clothes," says the credit-union service advisor from Mount Joy, Pennsylvania.

She used to think that deprivation was the way to get slim, but teenage bouts of bingeing and purging backfired. "In college, I got up to 165 pounds eating pizza and candy," she says. Then, at age 21, Christina had a bone scan at a work-sponsored health fair. The diagnosis was shocking: She had osteoporosis. Heredity played a part (her mother and grandmother both had the disease), but her sedentary lifestyle, extreme dieting, and years of smoking had led to prematurely brittle bones. "I drank milk, but a specialist told me to change my ways or I'd have the bones of a 90-year-old by age 50," she says. Christina dreaded working out, so she started by tweaking her diet: She quit drinking slushies, stopped eating late at night, and sucked low-cal lollipops to quell her sugar cravings. In a year she'd lost 10 pounds, and finally resolved to start exercising. "There was a tae kwon do class offered at work, so I signed up with my friends," she says. "It was incredibly hard, but the powerful kick-butt feeling I got kept me coming back." The result: a steady 10-pound-per-year weight loss. Then she added cross-training, losing another 15 pounds in two years.

Now her bone density is stable and her energy is off the charts. Christina recently formed a support group at her church. "Just last week, a woman told me she's started walking three times a week because of my example," she says. "That's even more amazing than fitting into a cute bra."

Christina's Weight-Loss Plan

My Diet: "I start the day with oatmeal, strawberries, and walnuts. Lunch is soy chicken, veggies, and a salad. In the evening, I eat 3 ounces of soy turkey with light mayonnaise, half a baked potato, and a salad."

My Guilty Pleasure: "Gooey, rich brownies. I will let myself eat one -- but only rarely."

My Workout: "I do strength training three times a week and mix up the cardio -- boxing, elliptical, kickboxing, and cycling."

My #1 Motivator: "My health. God gave me a second chance at being healthy, and I won't blow it."

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2007.

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