As featured in 435 South Magazine.
Kimberly Winter Stern
January 1, 2012
For these six people who lost more than 400 pounds collectively, it’s not about saying no to what they love— it’s about saying yes to healthy choices.
January is a restorative month, a time when we put aside the indulgences of the holidays, the excesses of the past year, the habits we want to shed. We wiggle back into a simpler life and eat simpler food. We detox from the intake of carbs and sweets and spiked eggnog that started the day before Black Friday and continued well past “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight on December 31. We take a good, long look in the mirror and honestly consider the reflection.
For resolution-makers, the New Year is clean slate time; a white board filled with fresh opportunities to succeed in any area of life that needs a nudge, a measure of improvement, a makeover. And in case you’ve missed the post-holiday headlines for the past three decades, the most popular pledge that people make on January 1 is to lighten the scale.
435 South magazine put out a call last fall for people who shed weight during the past year through nutrition and healthy lifestyle changes and choices. We found six individuals who joined the legions of weight-loss seekers in 2011 and succeeded in reaching their goals. Though each of them—Lisa, Mark, Nancy, Kurt, Annette and Elizabeth—wanted the same result of a slimmer physique, their approaches were different.
The common thread, however, with these Weight/Less stories, is that no one experienced a quick fix. There was sweat in the gym, growling stomachs, occasional feelings of defeat.
Dan Kampen, the January 2011 cover boy for our “Perfect Loser” issue, dropped 69 pounds in 2010. He’s now run three marathons and narrowly missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon in November 2011. Kampen has a sage piece of advice for anyone who wants to drop weight in the New Year: first figure out why.
“Make it personal to you and no one else,” suggests Kampen.
Meet our six Weight/Less success stories—people who felt the burn and were rewarded with the payoff of a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Annette de la Cruz Hilvitz
Annette de la Cruz Hilvitz calls it like she sees it, and what she saw in her mirror in October 2009 was disturbing. She calls her personal epiphany the “something’s gotta give” moment.
More than a wake-up call, the sober realization that Hilvitz’s health was being severely compromised by her poor diet and exercise choices was a swift kick in the butt.
“I was overweight,” says Hilvitz. “I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that something had to change or I wasn’t going to be around for my two kids.”
Physically active as a young adult, Hilvitz had slipped into a mono-routine of non-activity and yo-yo dieting over the years. She felt insulated by her weight, detached from reality and mired in a virtual bed of quicksand. Her first decision was to begin taking yoga classes.
“I wasn’t overweight because of ignorance, because I knew what I needed to do,” says Hilvitz. “It was apathy.”
The body movement and breathing of yoga and monitoring her food intake helped Hilvitz find a light at the end of her self-imposed tunnel of overeating and inactivity. She progressively started to feel better, and lost 30 pounds the last three months of 2009. She entered 2010 with a resolve to continue exercising and eating healthy foods. She took up playing tennis again—a sport she loved—lifting weights and taking Zumba classes.
Movement has become Hilvitz’s mantra.
“When people tell me they don’t like to work out, I tell them to find something they like,” says Hilvitz, who recently became a certified Zumba instructor. “Unless you’re 15 years old or have an unusual metabolism, weight isn’t going to stay off just by eating the proper foods. We take our dogs for walks … why can’t we take ourselves for a walk?”
Hilvitz has maintained her impressive weight loss through a variety of exercise—Zumba, tennis, road cycling, yoga and walking and eating a diet high in protein.
“I can’t eat sugar and the white carbs, and I recognize my triggers,” says Hilvitz, who stresses that she also doesn’t deprive herself of the occasional sushi dinner, slice of gooey chocolate cake or glasses of wine. “You have to enjoy life, too. Just be aware of what you’re putting into your mouth.”
Hilvitz says one of her secrets to successful weight loss is accepting that it’s not only a physical challenge, it’s a mental one, too. “I’m an emotional eater, and every so often I will eat even if I’m not hungry. That doesn’t mean I’m a failure, it just means I get back on track.”
Hilvitz doesn’t suffer fools gladly. When friends tell her they lack discipline, she volleys back a quick counterpoint.
“Make a decision to take care of you—to be the best person you can be,” she says.
Hilvitz is a mere shadow of her former portly self, and though she says her body isn’t perfect and never will be, she’s comfortable in her own skin.
“Weight loss and proper nutrition are liberating,” she says. “I love life, and I love who I am.”