These women knew they needed to change long-held habits to strengthen their hearts. So they laced up their sneakers, got moving and watched the numbers on the scale drop. Use their secrets to spur your own success.
My Best Advice: START SMALL, STAY LOCAL
Jessica Larche, 31, Norfolk, VA
Weight lost: 100 lbs.
» HEART ALERT “In 2012 I went to the doctor because I was having bad headaches. Turned out, my blood pressure was 160 over 100, which is dangerously high. I started taking medication and promised myself that I’d stop turning to food every time I was sad, bored or upset. I knew I should start exercising, too, but I needed something that was realistic.”
» WALK-IT-OFF STRATEGY “I committed to walking two laps around a beautiful nearby park every night for roughly one month. Eventually I felt comfortable enough to go to the gym, where I started using the elliptical machine as well. I lost 75 pounds over the course of a year and a half. Now I strength-train three days a week and do five-mile walk-run workouts one or two days a week. I’ll pick a post, jog to it, then walk to the next landmark.”
» EAT-RIGHT TIP “Pasta is my trigger food, so I use a Spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, which I toss with olive oil, shrimp and red pepper flakes.”
» LIFE NOW “The most exciting part of this journey has been sticking to my promises. It’s so liberating to know that if I put the work in, anything is possible. I love this quote, ‘It’s painful to be overweight, and it’s painful to work out: Choose your pain.’ I’ll take the pain of being sore any day, because it’s helping me grow stronger physically and emotionally.
» MY MOMENT OF PRIDE “In April 2010, I walked the Crescent City Classic 10K in New Orleans with my aunt and my mom. We finished, but it was tough and by the end, my back really hurt. Five years later and 90 lbs down, I signed up again with my mom. I wanted to retrace my steps and redefine my path. The joy I felt as I crossed the finish line was overwhelming.”
My Best Advice: USE YOUR HOME AS A GYM
Kirsten Helle, 37, Sammamish, WA
Weight lost: 103 lbs.
» HEART ALERT “At 25, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prediabetes, but I figured that was the norm because my family has a history of heart disease. Then one day I was sitting on the couch watching my 2-year-old daughter play. I realized that if I continued down that path, she would follow in my footsteps. Right then and there I decided to create a healthy new family legacy.”