"Losing 100 Pounds Changed My Life"
"I Did It!"
When I weighed 267 pounds, my idea of a diet and exercise program was lifting a slice of pizza from the box to my mouth," says Erica Dusi, a 21-year-old college student from Ceres, California. Not anymore. "Now I understand the importance of eating right and staying active. There's no diet magic."
By the time she was 16, Erica weighed 250 pounds and wore a size 20. "I preferred my grandmother's homemade Italian pastry to fruits and vegetables," she says. Though she was unhappy with her weight, she compensated by being outgoing. "I had a lot of friends, but deep down I thought that if I wasn't upbeat all the time, I'd be ignored."
At college, though, people noticed Erica's body before her personality, and she decided she'd had enough. "I couldn't pretend my weight didn't matter anymore. I didn't know how I was going to slim down, but I knew it was the right time for me to try."
A friend suggested she start by logging on to the USDA Web site (usda.gov) for sensible nutrition advice. She structured her diet around the food pyramid, eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and less saturated fat and sweets. She started walking, too, gradually building up to 45 minutes, four or five times a week. Next she added running, golf and swimming to her routine.
Soon she was losing about three pounds a week. Within a year, she'd dropped 100 pounds.
In addition to compliments on her new body, Erica received warnings that if she wasn't careful, she'd regain the weight. "I began to think of food as my enemy." She drastically cut back on calories and exercised for an hour and a half every day. As a result, she felt sluggish and moody. "I realized that these extreme measures were harming my health."
Erica returned to the sensible plan that had brought her success in the first place, and she's been able to maintain a weight of 160 pounds for two years. "I think of my body as a gift," she says. "I'm determined to do all I can to take care of it."
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