How I Lost Weight & Gained a New Life

Wed, August 05, 2009

By Marilyn Whitelaw

Marilyn receives services from YAI/NIPD’s Manhattan Recreation program. Over the past seven years she has not let her disability prevent her from achieving and maintaining a 75-pound weight loss.

My name is Marilyn and I would like to share my inspirational weight loss story with you.

In 2000, I weighed 197 pounds. I was overweight my entire life. I was a chunky child and a fat teenager. As I aged, I was never able to take off the weight and when I think about it, I am not sure that I really ever tried very hard. I always complained about back pain. As I got older, being heavy was really starting to bother me.

My boss was the one who convinced me to get serious about weight loss. She sat me down one day and told me how my weight was affecting my job at a day care center. I was having trouble bending down to the kids and keeping up with them. I had been in this position for 30 years and this was the first time I was hearing about my performance. My boss suggested I try Weight Watchers. I was extremely reluctant to go to a meeting. Why? I will tell you.

I am a woman with a disability. I depend on others for support to get to new places, learn new activities and understand directions. The thought of even going to a Weight Watchers meeting scared me. Was I going to fit in with a bunch of strangers? Would I understand what was being said and what I needed to do? Was I going to have to tell people that I had a disability when I really only tell my close friends and the staff who work with me? These meetings were very threatening to me and I had to find a way to overcome my fears.

Once I made the decision to go to a meeting, I found a location in Brooklyn that was perfect. After a few meetings, I felt very dedicated to losing weight and changing my lifestyle. At first, the system was hard for me to understand and food shopping took much longer than it used to. Buying junk food was much easier!

Even though I got frustrated at times, I did not give up. I was finished being tired, drained and uncomfortable all the time. I was sick of having trouble buying clothing and I hated shopping in the “fat” department. All of my clothing was disgusting and I was going to do something about it! There was no way my disability or anything else was going to stand in my way!

After about one year I lost 50 pounds and was feeling great! I was determined to keep losing weight, looking and feeling amazing! I had set some goals for myself and there was no stopping me. I wanted to be healthier, wear a smaller size and get a new wardrobe!

One night, I heard that the employees of my YAI/NIPD Recreation program were starting a Weight Watchers group at work. I asked if I could attend and they said “of course!”

Today, I am happier and more lively. I am more comfortable going to Weight Watchers meetings because I can recognize that we are all people in the same boat. I have made many friends and I am more outgoing. I love shopping for clothes. I walk more than ever before and I can bend down easier than ever. My back trouble is not as bad as it was in the past. Both my cholesterol and blood pressure are lower.

Today, I am loving my new life!