How losing even a small portion of excess weight can make a big difference

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Vera Richardson, left, transformed her life by losing 79 pounds. Though she’s still over twice her ideal body weight, her blood sugar is now under control and she’s got much more energy. 

Anybody who thinks weight loss is an all-or-nothing proposition ought to meet Vera Richardson.

At 308 pounds, she’s still likely to be the most overweight person in any room she enters. But the 79 pounds she’s lost over the last year have literally transformed her life.

Her blood sugar’s gone from frequent 300-plus levels to readings in the normal range, even though she’s down to two daily insulin shots rather than five.

She has more energy, enough so that she’s started going to the YMCA to walk on the treadmill.

She’s even found a job — a big step for an intellectually disabled young woman who, just a year or two ago, was considered one of the most at-risk clients at Easterseals/Arc of Fort Wayne because of all her health problems.

I wrote about Vera and her two roommates for last week’s News-Sentinel column because they’re a great example of how shedding even some of their extra bulk can make a big difference. Vera’s roommate Evelyn was carrying around an oxygen tank this time last year. Now 45 pounds lighter, she no longer needs it — even though she’s still about 50 pounds overweight. Their new roommate, Mary, who’s only been with them a couple of months, has already lost nearly 20 pounds.

These women aren’t on a diet so much as simply trying to make healthy lifestyle changes. They’re cutting back to normal serving sizes at meal times, substituting fruit, nuts and protein go-packs for sweet treats at snack time, and going to the YMCA at least three days a week.

Granted, as clients of Easterseals, they have staff who provide advice and support. But they make their own decisions. If Vera wants an ice cream sundae, for instance, she talks it over with her house manager, who helps her review how long it’s been since her last sugary treat.

In the end, it’s Vera’s call. But now that she’s got some momentum going, consistently losing 2-3 pounds a week, says staff member Rachel Wehrwein, “there’s no stopping her.”

To read more about Vera and her roommates, check out my latest Adventures in Food and Fitness column here. (The website will ask you to take a survey, but you can elect to skip it and go right to the article.)

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