'I love the person I have become'
THE REV. MARY BUSHONG 65, Sun City Center CURRENT WEIGHT: 147 WHY I DID IT: After much encouragement, I decided to tell my story in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. My journey actually started in 2000, while I was still actively serving as the pastor of a University Methodist Church in Ohio. I knew my clothes were getting tighter, but I was shocked when I went to the store and had to buy size 20 pants. I went home and stepped on the scale. Much to my dismay, it read 207. I had always been heavy, even as a child, but being over 200 was more than I was willing to accept. At that point, I knew I had to do something. STARTING WEIGHT: 207 As a pastor, I would declare from the pulpit that our human body is God's temple. Since I believe that to be true, I certainly wasn't taking very good care of God's temple. In addition, my physical condition did not serve as a good example for my congregation to follow. HOW I DID IT: A few friends and I began walking early in the morning before going to work. Since I lived in Ohio at the time, it soon became too cold and snowy for walking outside, so we joined the closest gym, which was seven miles from our little village. We decided to go five days per week, at 5 a.m. I was committed, because I knew it was either my turn to drive or someone would be there to pick me up Monday through Friday. Soon the exercise was not enough, and I realized I needed to change my eating habits. I found a Weight Watchers group. I had never tracked my eating. It makes a huge difference when you suddenly begin to write down every bit. I tracked my points, ate healthier and the weight began to fall. HURDLES: It wasn't an overnight success; there were times when I made slow progress. But for me it has been a total lifestyle change. Finally, with the tracking of my eating, adding daily exercise to my life's pattern and changing my attitude toward food in general … no longer living to eat, but now eating to live … I reached my goal weight and became a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. GOING THE DISTANCE: When I look back to my life as it was in 2000 and where I am today, I am still amazed at who I am now. I am the healthiest, strongest and fittest person that I have ever been. My normal pattern is to exercise sixe days per week for 45 minutes to an hour. I do a mixture of strength training, aerobics and yoga. I eat healthy foods and monitor the quantity. And yes, I go once per month for my weigh-in at Weight Watchers to maintain my lifetime status and help keep me on track. It has been 12 years since I began the journey, and the process was slow but transformational. For me, it ultimately was not only about weight loss, but a complete change in lifestyle and attitude. Today I am happy and healthy. And I love the person I have become.
I Lost It is a regular feature highlighting individual weight loss success stories and does not reflect the opinions of 4you, which encourages you to work with a physician or a nutritionist before embarking on a diet. To share your story, visit TBO.com, search Lost It; or email firstname.lastname@example.org; or mail to 4you, The Tampa Tribune, 200 S. Parker St., Tampa FL 33606.