April 23, 2009

BONNIE'S CHALLENGE When Bonnie Camm delivered her twin boys three months early, her life turned upside down. "Both boys were born with serious health problems and spent four months in the neonatal intensive-care unit," she recalls. Bonnie spent her days at the hospital with the babies and then went home to take care of her then-2-year-old son. "I was too tired to cook or exercise," she says. "I usually ate a burger and fries in the car during the hour-long trip between my house and the hospital." After her twins came home, they required extra attention and frequent trips back to the hospital. By the time the twins turned 4, Bonnie's weight peaked at 160 pounds, too much for her petite 5-foot-2 frame.

HER TURNING POINT A few months after her boys' fourth birthday, Bonnie was working on a family scrapbook when she caught a glimpse of herself in a photograph. "I thought, 'Is that really me?' I looked old and run-down," she says. "That was when I realized that I needed to make some changes."

HER WEIGHT-LOSS & EXERCISE PLAN Bonnie recruited her husband, who also wanted to lose weight, and they began keeping a record of everything they ate. "I was surprised to see how much junk food, mostly cookies and soda, I nibbled on without even realizing it," says Bonnie. She made fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats the centerpiece of her new eating plan. In addition, Bonnie and her husband exercised with cardio kickboxing videos in their living room for 30-45 minutes, three to five mornings a week.

MAKING SUCCESS HAPPEN Almost immediately, Bonnie noticed she had more energy. "Instead of needing a caffeinated soda to get me going, I could get everything done without being exhausted by the end of the day," she says.

Bonnie started planning a week's worth of meals and stocked up on healthful foods. On weekends, Bonnie prepared extra portions of her family's favorite lowfat dinners so they'd be ready for the long days when she had to be at the hospital with one of her twins. "I kept water and healthful snacks, such as fruit and string cheese, with me at all times so I wouldn't have to eat the high-fat hospital cafeteria food," she says. On those days, Bonnie didn't always have time to exercise, "but I didn't let myself feel guilty about it. There was only so much I could do at one time, and I returned to exercise once I had time in my schedule," she says.

Bonnie lost 5 pounds in the first month. "My too-tight jeans were getting loose, and I was looking better for the first time in a long time," she says. She also started weight training at home with a Bowflex to tone up and began walking outside when the weather permitted, usually with her sons in a stroller.

After Bonnie lost 45 pounds and reached her goal weight of 115 one year later, she was thrilled. "My husband, who had lost 80 pounds, and I celebrated our success and our 10th anniversary with a trip to Jamaica," Bonnie says. "Wearing a bikini on the beach and not feeling self-conscious was great." More important, Bonnie sees herself as a positive role model for her sons. "Not only can I keep up with the demands of three young boys, but I make time for myself a priority," she says. "I've learned that makes me a better mom."