More than one way to shed weight, these HI residents will attest

Monday, May 16, 2005
After Cheryl Pierson spoke to homeowners about walking in the mornings with neighbors, several other women called up and said they wanted to join them. From left are some of the group: Pam Barnum, Marilyn Aldridge, Mary Dolce, Cheryl Pierson and Kay Janky. Kathryn Lucariello / Carroll County News

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- It's one thing to hear or read about myriads of weight loss programs ad nauseam, but another to actually see people who have successfully lost weight.

At the last Holiday Island Homeowners Association meeting April 14, three homeowners talked about how they lost weight and have continued to work on it.

Although they used different methods, those methods worked for them.

Cheryl Pierson talked about how three years ago she put on weight and was unhappy about it. In the mornings she would see a group of women walking by and got to know who they were. So she joined them: every morning she got up at 6:30 and walked at 7 a.m. for three miles three days a week with her neighbors.

"For the first three to four weeks, it was difficult," she said. "But after that, it felt really good. Then it got up to seven days, and I walk every day now.

"I wake up without an alarm clock now, and I've lost 20 to 25 pounds. I also cut back on cookies and cut down on portions."

She said it's easier to do such a program with other people. She said her exercise has cut down on her stress level and helps her to be "more energized for the day."

Clive Veri described himself as a "recovering obese person." He said he now weighs 222, down from 293.

Two years ago he and his wife, Jean, who also wanted to lose weight, attended a three-week training program at the Lifestyle Center of America in Sulphur, Okla.

The program teaches people how to exercise, how to shop and how to cook, among other things. It emphasizes a total lifestyle change.

"My cholesterol went from 286 to 183 in two weeks," Veri said. "I have great flexibility and no longer have to rock three times to get out of a chair. I've passed all my physical exams and sleep better at night."

Veri said his capacity for exercise has increased.

"I could only do three pushups when I started," he said. "I now do 50 every morning and 50 situps."

He said, at age 69, he can do hard physical labor throughout an eight-hour day and even leaves his son, who's in his 40s, behind.

But he stressed the importance of support, especially with Jean enrolled in the same program. He said that other people are not necessarily supportive and he and Jean had to give up going out to dinner often with friends at first.

"You have to be deeply committed to a lifestyle change," he said. "You may lose some friends. You have to have a resolve that obesity is an illness."

Speaking of Jean's commitment also, he said, "You have to be in this together or it simply won't work."

Paula Harris also spoke of losing weight. She did the Atkins diet, which is a low-carb diet, for four years.

"I lost 152 pounds," she said. "I weighed almost 300 pounds in 1998 and have been losing a little every year."

She said she weighs 148 pounds now and wants to lose more.

Whatever program a person chooses, the key to it seems to be finding support from others and sticking to it.

And the rewards are more than just looking better: they include better sleep, more energy, more stamina and better overall health.

For information on the Lifestyle Center of America, visit

Holiday Island will be holding a Senior Health and Fitness Day on May 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rec Center on Shields Drive. Information booths, free blood sugar and cholesterol testing and other services will be available.

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