My Health Wake-Up Call
Jeanine's Challenge A former tomboy, Jeanine struggled to stay active once she was married with children. "I felt sluggish and unmotivated," she says. "At night, I'd snack in front of the TV until it was time to go to bed." When her boys hit their teens, Jeanine weighed 169 pounds. My turning point Jeanine's husband complained of chest pains a year and a half ago, and his doctors told him that his extra weight put him at serious risk for a heart attack. "It was a wake-up call for all of us," she says. "I promised him we'd slim down together." Though they immediately bought a treadmill, exercise didn't come easily to Jeanine after so many sedentary years. "At first I could only walk for a five-minute stretch, which didn't seem like much," she says. "But my husband was the one who rallied me on, encouraging me to stick with it. With his support, I gradually built up to an hour a day." My weight-loss and exercise plan Jeanine also began scanning magazines for healthy recipes and practical ways to improve her family's eating habits. "I'd always eaten whatever I wanted--a lot of fast food and ice cream," she says. "So I committed to cooking at home more often, and then I changed what I made." Family dinners were now broiled or grilled fish instead of red meat or pasta with alfredo sauce. She traded sides of french fries for baked sweet potatoes and green veggies like broccoli and brussels sprouts. And she stopped buying junk food: Apples, almonds, and whole-grain cereal became Jeanine's new favorite snacks. Within a month, her friends started noticing a difference. "Everyone would tell me, 'Your pants are hanging off you!'" Jeanine remembers. She was reluctant to buy smaller sizes at first ("I didn't want to jinx myself!"), but the scale showed results she couldn't ignore: Three months after starting to eat better and walk, she had dropped 30 pounds. Making success happen When Jeanine hit a plateau four months later, she kicked her toughest habit--three 20-ounce bottles of soda a day. "Working out gave me the same energy boost," she says, "and that one change slashed about 650 calories a day!" It also jump-started her weight loss, and last summer she finally reached 120 pounds. And her husband has shed close to 40 pounds. "Every person in my family has more energy than ever," says Jeanine. "I don't think the word tired exists in our vocabulary anymore!" Her Motivation Secrets • Grab a partner. "It was my husband who helped me through the tough times." • Fuel your workouts. "I can't believe how adding extra protein to my diet has kept me satisfied." • Abolish "cheat days." "I don't believe in them. I'd rather have a bite of a food I'm craving or a fun-size candy bar." Her workout schedule • Walking or jogging 30 minutes/6 times a week •Strength training 30-45 minutes/3-4 times a week To submit your own Success Story, go to Shape.com/model.