About five years ago, I was lucky enough to meet a girl who is now one of my best friends, Kelly Donovan. With the addition of Kelly in my life, eventually came the introduction to her family which includes her mother, Susan Serra. Since the first day I met Susan, I've been fond of her, not just because of my relationship with Kelly, but also because we have so much in common in our drive for love, life and work. We are both strong-minded woman who have a way of making things happen that might otherwise seem impossible to most.
A few months ago, I took an overnight trip out to Huntington, Long Island to visit with Kelly and her family. I knew that her mother had been making some positive transitions in her lifestyle - working out more regularly and cutting back on her daily food intake. Kelly had mentioned that her mother was looking good and feeling much better but didn't really provide any more details. So on Sunday morning when Susan came to pick us up for brunch, I turned my head, not recognizing the person who had just walked through the door, and proceeded to ask Kelly when her mom would be there to get us. Turning back around and facing the unknown face that was now smiling at me, I did what felt like a quadruple-take while losing my jaw to the floor in realization that it was Susan herself who was staring back me. I was speechless. The woman I had known before (76 pounds before) was a totally different person - inside and out.
I was so astonished by Susan's life transformation that I asked her to share her story with the SHAPE community. Read below for Susan's incredibly inspiring story and to get her advice on losing a large amount of weight.
From Apathy To A 76-Pound Weight Loss
By Susan Serra
Here is how my weight loss journey began: I wasn't enthusiastic. I was mostly resigned to failure. I figured I would try it and see how long I would stick with it "this time". What a negative mindset to begin what ended up, about 9-10 months later, to be a loss of 76 pounds. My body, mind, and spirit are new and improved!
The secret? Patience. A one-day-at-a-time (sometimes one hour at a time) way of thinking helped too. My initial goal was to lose 50 lbs because I did not want to even imagine that I'd need to lose 75 lbs. But, I'm jumping the gun a bit.
As I sat in my family doctor's examining room, waiting for him to enter, I saw a poster for a weight loss program called Medifast. I asked my doctor about it and he briefly described the program to me. Medifast is endorsed by many doctors around the country - a check mark in my "good" box. This program requires that Medifast meals (a choice of bars, shakes, soups and other foods) be consumed five times a day, in addition to a meal of real food that is "lean and green" consisting of protein and vegetables that's included each day.
One important concept is that the body needs fuel on a fairly frequent basis - something I had not adhered to previously at all. Sometimes I'd eat breakfast at 7 a.m. and lunch at 2 p.m. Too much time between meals puts the body into starvation mode, preventing productive weight loss of any kind no matter how healthy you eat. As with other weight loss programs, drinking enough water during each day is always an important piece to good health. Later, a simple exercise program (walking and bike riding) kicked in. Having a doctor's blessing to start any weight-loss program is another important piece to fit into place.
Days went by and my face quickly started to look a bit thinner. Then weeks went by and my clothes became much bigger on me. I seemed to fall into a groove. I've found that when it comes to losing a large amount of weight, it's best not to look at the big picture because it can seem too daunting, too abstract. It's best to "just do it." With Medifast, I know why being successful was so easy for me (and, yes, it was easy, much to my surprise). The program made me feel as though I was in a sort of food rehab. This rehab period, which lasted many months, enabled me to slowly rethink about how to eat while giving me a break from so much decision-making about what real foods to eat every day. During this time I did lots of business traveling and Medifast fit my lifestyle perfectly.
Today, I'm wearing skinny jeans, leggings and heels, and look and feel fully up to my potential as a mother, wife, businesswoman, and grandmother! Sure, I have some good days and bad days, but now I am looking at the big picture - weight maintenance and health maintenance - the best motivation of all. I've now become a coach for Medifast since it's literally changed my life. It's not for everyone, but it worked for me. Yes, just do it!
Susan Serra, CKD, is a certified kitchen designer, and president of Susan Serra Associates, Inc. for 20 years, a kitchen design firm on Long Island. Susan is the Founder of Bornholm Kitchen, a line of warmly modern Scandinavian-inspired cabinetry and co-founder of Scandinavian Made, with her daughter Kelly. Scandinavian Made is a collection of functional and decorative works handmade by artisans and exclusively available in the U.S. in their webshop.