Success Stories

How making peace with her past helped this member keep off 130 pounds*

Connecting the dots put her back in control.

*People following the WW program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds/week. Beth lost weight on a prior program and is continuing on myWW™.

As told to Katerina Gkionis 


I was 10 years old when I first realized I had a weight issue. It happened when my grandfather made beautiful leather belts for all the kids in our family. We received them at a family gathering, and my mother looked at me, her face serious with concern. “Does the belt fit OK?” she asked.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but food had become a shield for me in response to trauma. The year prior, I had been sexually abused. I began eating more in the wake of the incident, subconsciously believing that if I got bigger, the abuse wouldn’t happen again.

My weight ballooned on a diet of fast food, sweets, and junk food. I wanted to be invisible. It got to the point where I was afraid to go out in public because there had been times where strangers had mocked me. I felt like I was barely existing. 

My doctor gave me a stern warning in the spring of 2011: If I couldn’t get my weight under control, I’d have to start taking medication for type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. I was already on medication for high blood pressure. This was serious.

For years, I had looked at other people who were able to lose weight, wishing I could be like them. Now I was out of time for wishing. I decided to take action and join WW.
 

Changing my mindset
 

I started that summer, during a four-week hiatus from work. The first step was challenging for me—just standing in line at my Wellness Check-in made my palms sweat. I weighed 281 pounds. The thought of how much I had to lose felt suffocating. But the WW Guide was so helpful that day in helping me see through the fog: I was in the right place. I would have a plan. I’d focus on just five or 10 pounds at a time. I felt a tiny flicker of hope, which was enough to keep me going.

The things I learned in my first WW Workshop became my golden rules. I started measuring and weighing my food with a scale. I began reading nutrition labels and understanding serving sizes. I drank more water instead of soda. I tracked everything that went into my mouth. During that first month on WW, I was an A+ student, and it paid off: I lost 10 pounds*.
 

What Elizabeth ate then vs. now
 

  Then Now

Breakfast

-

Overnight oats; frittata made with two eggs, shredded potatoes, and diced onion and peppers; or yogurt with berries

Lunch

Peanut butter and jelly or a deli sandwich loaded with meat and cheese on a hoagie roll

Tuna or chicken with cucumbers, peppers, onion, tomato, corn, avocado, and oil and vinegar with vegetables and pickles in a whole wheat wrap; a snack-size bag of kettle-baked potato chips

Dinner

Fast-food burger with French fries; chicken cutlets, mashed potatoes, corn

Baked lemon-dill salmon or flounder—or grilled chicken— with a sweet potato, brown rice, or roasted acorn squash

Snacks

Cookies, chocolate, ice cream, potato chips

Hard-boiled eggs, apple, plain popcorn with cinnamon, walnuts, or a WW Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Mini Bar

 

My doctor took notice: My blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar numbers were improving already. My flicker of hope became a little brighter.

September marked the return of my 60-hour workweeks as a nanny. Because my weekdays were packed, I cooked for myself on Sundays to ensure I had meals for the days ahead. I’d make an old-fashioned pot roast or my favorite goulash with whole-wheat pasta, then divided the dish into separate containers.

 

A major breakthrough
 

That October, I resolved to start incorporating more movement into my lifestyle. I started with 10 minutes a day and kept nudging myself to see how much longer I could go. By winter, I formed a goal to walk to the park about 2 miles from my home. I did it—and walked back, too! I was pleasantly surprised at myself.

Besides giving me an intrinsic feeling of accomplishment, walking revamped my mindset and almost felt like a form of therapy. Sometimes I’d cry on my walks; other times I’d smile. Having time alone with my thoughts allowed me to reflect on my past and examine some of the feelings I had buried deep within me over the years.

While I had no interest in reliving the childhood abuse I had survived, I was able to finally make that important connection between the incident and my present-day life: All along, I had been using food and my weight as a form of protection. It took me 30 years to make that connection, and it happened on one of my walks.

I felt like I had finally cracked the code to my relationship with food. I didn’t want to be the victim anymore; I wanted to be a survivor, a warrior. This kicked off a deeper search for peace and a sense of solace. I read books. I reflected. And with the power of prayer, I found forgiveness.
 

RELATED: All about myWW
 

Powerful lessons
 

I continued on my journey, eventually reaching my goal in May 2015. I learned a lot in those four years. I gained a love for cooking through testing out recipes from cookbooks, for instance. As I started eating more fruits and vegetables, I appreciated how satisfied and energized I felt, compared with feeling sluggish after having sugary junk food. These healthy habits became sustainable over time. That’s a big part of why I’ve been able to maintain my 130-pound* weight loss for the past five years.

I was excited when myWW came along. The new changes encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone without worrying that I had to be perfect. If I fall off the wagon, it’s easier to hop right back on, thanks to all the ZeroPoint™ foods I can eat on Purple—especially brown rice and potatoes. I’ve expanded my cooking repertoire with hearty dinners like sweet potato chili and shrimp fried rice. They are just so good.
 

Recognizing strength
 

I feel really proud of the girl I was before WW. I can say to her now, “I love you—you are the reason I have the life I have today.” That girl is my hero. She had the courage to change.

I have so many non-scale victories to be proud of, too. I used to see my doctor every three months because my health was so poor. That’s now become a six-month cadence. I’m no longer on any medication. As my numbers continue to improve, my doctor says, “This is all extra credit for the heart.”

Once I lost the weight, I really started living. I can travel on airplanes. I can go to Hawaii; I can go snorkeling. My weight used to dictate what I could and couldn’t do. Today, I’m in control.

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If you are seeking resources or support around sexual violence or would like to learn more, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization, provides one-on-one, confidential crisis services 24/7. Visit rainn.org for more information, or call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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