After gaining 90 pounds in 3 years, Mary Renwick decided to give her life a 180-degree makeover. She overhauled her diet, hit up boot-camp, and shed 100 pounds in under a year
Mary Renwick, 30
Stay-at-home mom, Monroe, MI
Before: 255 lbs
After: 155 lbs
When Mary Renwick moved with her husband, Tim, who was in the Navy, from Monroe, Michigan, to a military base in Sicily in 1999, her six-foot frame was lean and willowy. But while Tim worked odd hours at his new job, Mary filled her lonely days with food. “I ate for comfort and indulged in the local cuisine—oily pasta, buttered bread, lots of cannoli,” she says. By the time Tim was discharged and they returned to Monroe in 2002, she was 90 pounds heavier and depressed. In the next seven years, Mary gave birth to two boys, which improved her spirits but not her weight.
In December 2009, Mary reached down to pick up her youngest son, Parker, then 5 months old, and felt a stab in her back. A visit to the doctor revealed two bulging disks and a pinched nerve. “When I learned my weight was the main factor in my injury, I decided I could not, would not, live like that anymore,” she says.
When the pain subsided in January 2010, Mary joined a gym. “Once I developed the mind-set to regain my health, there wasn’t much to stop me,” she says. At first, all she could do was walk on the treadmill, slowly increasing speed over time.
“Within the first month of working out, I pulled out of my funk,” she says. “Who needs therapy when there’s a treadmill and weights?” It was uplifting to see 25 pounds melt off, but she hit a wall in March.
To push the scale below 220, she signed up for two back-to-back monthlong boot-camp classes. When they ended, she did intervals and lifted weights five days a week, using Women’s Health iPhone apps. Mary also streamlined her diet. “I replaced processed foods and bad carbs with high-fiber options and healthy fats,” she says. Just before she hit her goal weight of 155 in September 2010, Mary was able to stop seeing a chiropractor for her back pain—it was completely gone.
“Not only is my back fine, but I also have a strong core and I’m more fit than I’ve ever been,” she says. In fact, Mary has become such an exercise junkie that she may make it a career. “I went from being embarrassed at the gym because I was obese to being asked if I was a personal trainer,” she says.
Learn to cook. “I don’t eat out often because even ‘healthier’ menu items can be loaded with butter, oil, and sodium. At home, I know exactly what I’m eating
Move and mingle. “Before, I used food as a reason to socialize with friends. When my health goals shifted, we started hiking or shopping instead.”