When Diane Shaw, 54, caught wind of the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk in 2002.
she thought it would be a good team-building activity for her colleagues at theSan FranciscoBayarea transit company where she works. She planned to help raise money, but at 310 pounds she assumed she’d skip the three-mile walk. “I couldn’t even walk a few minutes without getting out of breath,” recalls Diane. “I was worried that I just couldn’t handle it.” But when her teammates told her they wouldn’t walk unless she joined them, she resolved to get into shape for the event.
How she did it: When Diane first started walking on a treadmill in the exercise room at work, she was only able to go for 7 minutes at a time. “I wondered how in the world I was ever going to walk three miles, but I didn’t want to let my team down,” says Diane, who was also motivated by a family history of heart disease and high blood pressure. Around the same time, she started keeping a food diary and paying close attention to nutrition labels. Two months later and 15 pounds lighter, she proudly crossed the finish line with her coworkers.
The payoff: Diane lost a total of 110 pounds in three years. After that first charity event, she stuck with her walking routine and also signed up for circuit-training classes at her workplace. She’s now a regular at the Heart Walk, having done it nine times. She also completed a 39-mile walk for breast cancer in 2008. “I feel so much better than I did in my 20s; no one believes how old I am,” she says.