Celeste LaBonte's knee gave out one day at home. Her orthopedist told the Blackstone, Mass. mom that the knee damage was caused by her excessive weight.
Celeste found that, at 294 pounds, she had to use a seat belt extender on planes and that she had a difficult time going up stairs. But it wasn't until she learned of her husband's upcoming professional award and imagined embarrassment at the ceremony that she decided to make a big change.
Celeste isn't alone. With challenges to the body like a slowing metabolism, stress, childbearing and easy access to less than nutritional food, it's no wonder that so many women struggle with their weight.
Weight can affect your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, being overweight increases your risk for a host of health problems, including:
Coronary heart disease
Type 2 diabetes
Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
Liver and gallbladder disease
Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)
The Search for a Solution
Millions of dollars are spent each year on diet programs, yet up to 95 percent of dieters fail to maintain weight loss. There is often an initial loss of weight, but then many people hit a plateau and stop losing weight. Another problem with many diets is that people just can't maintain a diet long-term.
But many of those programs are based on a flawed premise: if you simply eat less and move more, then you'll be smaller. There's more to it than that.
When calories are restricted, your metabolism drops. When this happens, you hit a plateau and the pounds stop coming off. In order to break through that plateau, most diets call for a further reduction in calories. This lowers the metabolism more, requiring a lifetime of low-calorie dieting to maintain your goal weight.
Celeste joined Curves, a fitness franchise designed for women. She signed up for their free weight management plan, which takes metabolism changes into account. She's lost over 60 pounds so far. "The Curves plan has changed how I think about food," said Celeste. "It helped me jump-start my weight loss, and I've been following the essentials of the plan ever since." She also found that the program, combined with 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, improved her cholesterol, blood pressure, acid reflux and knee pain.
The Real Key to Weight Loss
"The secret is not willpower or self discipline," says Nadia Rodman, senior dietician for Curves, "but rather a proper understanding of how we can change our behavior, or, more specifically, our habits."
Rodman believes that women can take charge of their health and combat the effects of aging and disease. "We're about fitness, health, and moving away from disease," she says. "We're about losing weight and gaining strength. In a community of support and encouragement, you can reach your goals."
Celeste has a new vision of herself. "I'd always be looking around, asking myself, 'Am I the fattest person in the room?' This has changed the way I view myself. I've always been happy, but now it's about having fun, not making fun of myself."
Picking a Plan
According to the Weight-Control Information Network, safe and effective weight-loss programs should include:
Healthy eating plans that reduce calories but do not forbid specific foods or food groups.
Tips to increase moderate-intensity physical activity.
Tips on healthy habits that also keep your needs in mind, such as lower-fat versions of your favorite foods.
Slow and steady weight loss. Depending on your starting weight, experts recommend losing weight at a rate of 1/2 to 2 pounds per week. Weight loss may be faster at the start of a program.
A plan to keep the weight off after you have lost it.
Plan the Solution
From the book "Curves Fitness and Weight Management Plan":
Setting goals is a must. Your goals must be specific, written, exciting and achievable. Begin by asking yourself these questions:
What personal strengths will help you succeed?
What are your triggers for making poor food choices?
How can you manage those triggers more effectively?
What time of day will you take a 30-minute walk?
What are your biggest fears about starting a new plan?
How could you proactively address those fears?
How One Plan Works
The Curves Weight Management Plan is a cycle made up of three phases.
Research has shown that by following a strength training program, such as the one offered by Curves, and eating a higher protein diet, metabolism is not significantly decreased. Sometimes, it actually increases - making it easier to burn fat and maintain permanent weight loss.
For more about the free weight management classes - available to non-members as well as members - visit your local Curves or curves.com