By cutting out soda and leaning on her personal-trainer sis for help, Sheri Harkness got fit for life
My parents divorced during my junior year of high school, and I ate to soothe my emotions. In my 20s, two pregnancies packed on more weight. I made sure that my boys ate balanced meals, but I opted for greasy takeout and liters of soda. By age 35, I weighed almost 300 pounds.
I was no stranger to weight loss fads. My younger sister Karen, a personal trainer, encouraged me to get fit once and for all–but it wasn’t until I stepped on the scale for a physical and weighed in at 282 pounds that I realized I had to change. I devised a strategy: I’d eat the same foods but halve the portions. I also gave up the 2 liters of soda I was guzzling each day.
Stairway to Health Heaven
In February 2009, I participated in the Empire State Building Run Up, a race where thousands climb the 86 floors up to the observatory deck. I couldn’t believe how far I had come, bounding up scores of steps when just months before I could barely walk on the treadmill. Losing 141 pounds in just 18 months was (and still is!) an incredible feeling.
MY TOP TIPS
Find a mantra. Mine is “Never give up.” It helped keep me on track!
Watch for sneaky diet saboteurs. I did the math and realized that I drank 260,000 calories–or 74 pounds’ worth of empty calories–per year in soda alone. That was a huge eye-opener!
Make it about your health. My sister taught me to focus on my overall fitness rather than just a number on the scale. She was right: When I learned to love exercise and set goals at the gym, the weight loss that followed was just an added bonus.
Learn to appreciate real food. I stopped viewing food as recreation and began to see it as fuel. These days, I’ve given up takeout and try to buy natural whenever possible. No matter what, I’ll always fall back on grilled chicken, salads, whole grain cereals, and fruit.