How much did you weigh last year?Two hundred fifty-three pounds.
How much did you weigh when you enlisted?One hundred seventy-six.
How did you gain so much weight?I was pregnant with my second daughter, and I gained 70 or 80 pounds – a whole lot.
And you couldn’t lose it after the birth?I just stuck with my pregnancy eating for a year, I guess because of a lot of stuff I was going through.
What was it like to be so overweight?It’s very depressing. Every day you see yourself. I was thin before, and I’d see my old clothes, and I wanted to go back to that.
Plus, you were not meeting Army weight and fitness standards. What finally happened?My first sergeant, now, he said, "It needs to come off." He said if I didn’t lose 5 pounds in a week, he’d start the paperwork to put me out of the Army. It was to open my eyes.
Didn’t someone else help you, too?Staff Sergeant Karen Derrickson – she’s a lieutenant now. She was good in PT (physical training). She volunteered. We’d be at the gym every night. She pushed me very hard; "You have to do this. …" And with every few pounds, she’d reward me, like with a fruit plate from the commissary.
So you worked out every night?Yes, and PT in the morning. At least two hours of exercise every day, a lot of cardio. For at least two months.
How did you stay motivated?Just seeing the weight come off. And thinking how my body had been. I wanted to look like that again.
You also changed your diet, ate smaller portions, and quit eating fast food and junk food all the time, right?Now I have a George Foreman grill. I cook everything on it, or I cook it in the oven. We don’t fry anything in my house.
How often do you go to the gym now while you’re trying to maintain your weight at 180?I go Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and one day on the weekend. But Tuesday and Thursday I still do PT. And I walk. I want to lose 10 or 15 pounds more, but first I want to see how to maintain this weight – what sort of portion size, how many days I need to go to the gym.
And how do you feel?Really, really good. It’s good to be able to do PT and not be out of breath. A lot more people notice me. A lot of people come up to me and say, "Whoa. Is that you?" A lot of people ask me for advice; they ask me what I did. The recognition makes me feel really good. But the best thing is being happy, being here for my babies and being in the Army. I love being here.
What food do you miss most?I love french fries. The crunchy-fried french fries.
Interview conducted by Nancy Montgomery. Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day job: Clerk with the 5th Signal Command
Notable achievement: Lost 73 pounds in a year