Weight Loss Before and After: Sharon Lost 76 Pounds And Turned Into An Energized Mommy
Learn how Sharon Hildebrandt turned into the Energizer Mommy
Name: Sharon Hildebrandt
Current Weight: 155 lb
Pounds Lost: 76
Occupation: Fifth-grade teacher
The moment I knew I was a success:”The day my son, Trey, gave me a hug and then looked up and said, ‘Mommy! I can put my arms all the way around you!’ I said, ‘If you hold on real tight, maybe you can do it twice.'”
In old family photos, I’m the thinnest of my five siblings, thanks to my passion for jazz and tap dancing. When I got pregnant at age 27, I stopped dancing and started eating sweets like raspberry ice cream anytime, day or night, right out of the carton. As a result, I added more than 50 pounds to my former 135-pound body. Friends said, “It’s all baby fat,” but after giving birth to my 8-pound son, Trey, only 20 of the 50 came off.
When I went back to work as an elementary-school teacher, I made half hearted attempts at dieting and exercise: I walked Trey in his stroller and tried the cabbage soup diet, but in the back of my mind I thought, Why bother? I’m just going to get pregnant again. Two years later I did–and gained 60 more pounds. Instead of being the cute, thin wife on my husband’s arm, I was now twice his size.
My Wake-Up Call
Things changed in 2001, when I went to get a suspicious growth on my neck removed. It turned out to be a treatable skin cancer, but the doctor also found skin tags all over me–flappy molelike bumps that hang off the body. He said matter-of-factly, “That’s what obese people get.” Wow, I’m obese, I thought. It was the first time I’d heard someone use that word about me.
That summer, on a hot August morning, I “rolled” out of bed and sat up to face this huge mirror we have. At 231 pounds, I didn’t recognize myself. That’s when I lost it. I sat and cried 10 years’ worth of pent-up disappointment in myself. After 2 hours of sobbing, I said to the mirror, “Well, what are you going to do about it,Sharon?”
By 3:30 that afternoon, I had enrolled in LA Weight Loss, a program where a counselor would review my food diary and make sure I weighed in each week. When I told my husband, Michael, that it would cost $1,000 per year, he looked at me and said, “Don’t you think you’re worth it?”
I customized the plan to fit me. For example, I noticed that if I ate starches early in the day, I seemed to burn them off quickly, but I couldn’t eat starches at night or I gained.
Each week, I stood on the scale in front of the counselor. In good times, I’d lose 2 to 3 pounds a week. If I’d had a bad week (and there were several), I’d even take off my wedding rings, my necklace, and anything else that wasn’t permanently attached in order to lose a few more ounces. I might have fooled the scale, but I couldn’t fool myself, and the subsequent guilt inspired me to try harder the next week.
Being creative helped me stick with the program. I looked for interesting salad combinations–my favorite ingredients were nuts, grapes, and cranberries–and mixed up my exercise with yoga and tae bo classes. It may sound crazy, but I also started mowing the lawn with a hand-push mower. I’d strap on my CD player and mow 4 acres, singing and working up a sweat like a madwoman!
I lost 60 pounds in 7 months and couldn’t believe what I used to look like. While going through old photos, my daughter, Paige, said, “That’s not you, Mom.”
Even in my teaching I’m different. Since losing the weight, I have enough energy to teach, mentor, and even work on the school musical. It must have showed, because after 16 years as an educator, I was a finalist for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year.
After losing almost 70 pounds, I read about Prevention’s 2005 26.2-mile Walking Challenge and decided I had to try it. I followed the plan for 6 months, at first doing 30 minutes a day, until I’d worked up to walking and cross-training at 4 AM, 6 days a week, going through three pairs of sneakers in the process! Even my kids thought I was a superhero. Last October, I completed the Wineglass Marathon inCorning,NY.
Why It Worked
I couldn’t have done any of it without the support of my friends and family. My sister Karen sent me a bouquet of flowers for every 25 pounds I lost. My brother Tom gave me my first size 12 jeans. When I was frustrated, I’d call my friend Nancy and say, “Help! Remind me of how far I’ve come.”
Just say no For example, to your mother when she makes chicken dumplings with gravy and wants you to have some.
Ask for help I got my husband to kick me out the door so I could exercise. When he’d see me ironing, he’d say, “Go walk. That can wait!”
Keep different foods separate on a plate If they don’t touch, there’s less of each.
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