“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Ever since she was in second grade, Clara Williams has struggled with her weight and, like many of us, has had a hard time staying away from candy, chips, and other processed foods. By the time she was 20, Clara weighed 220 pounds. Five years later, she gave birth to her daughter and her weight climbed to 300 pounds.
“My weight went up and up and up until I saw my highest recorded weight at the doctor’s office in 2010: 426 pounds,” Clara told Yahoo! Health. “I was wearing the biggest jeans available at women’s stores and was having a hard time fastening them.”
It wasn’t until her daughter gave birth to her grandson that she decided that enough was enough.
“I knew that I would not be around for him, or the rest of my family, if I didn’t get my weight under control,” Clara said. “It was hard to even get up off the couch by myself, let alone hold a baby in my arms. I was sick of being sick and tired. So I decided to fight.”
And so she did. Clara sought inspiration and advice from her dad, who had lost 100 pounds, and support from her friend Patty. In 2011, Clara and Patty joined TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), a non profit weight-loss support group, and began sitting in on weekly meetings.
“We took part in contests to keep us motivated to move and lose,” Clara explains. “The support from the group gave me all the encouragement I needed, and in so many ways, it saved my life.”
Using what she learned from the meetings, Clara began replacing junk food with whole natural foods. She started eating more salmon, chicken, veggies, and Greek yogurt in place of snacking on potato chips and candy. But the surprising thing that Clara discovered was that eating healthier never actually felt like she was “dieting.”
“It was a daily choice and I realized along the way that in order for me to make lasting changes, it had to be about waking up everyday and making the best healthy choices,” Clara said.
The same was true for her exercise routine. She began doing Leslie Sansone’s walking tapewith coworkers on her lunch breaks and going on evening walks with Patty. Her progress felt slow, but she says she knew she’d eventually achieve her goal if she stuck with it.
“Facing the scale at TOPS each week held me accountable,” Clara said. “I always reminded myself that I was better than where I started.”
Today, Clara has lost 243 pounds and is enjoying her much healthier lifestyle. To maintain her figure, Clara runs, uses her MyFitnessPal app to track her calories, and aims to do one hour of cardio and weight-lifting exercises two to three times every week. So far, she says her efforts and perseverance have definitely paid off.
“When I lost the weight, I finally felt free of the limits that being overweight had put on my body,” Clara says. “My back and knee pain decreased. I could go to the park with my grandson and play with him for hours.”
When Clara looks in the mirror, she sees a much healthier person and hopes to inspire others with her story.
“I am a testament to the fact that small changes will bring you great rewards. Make a choice each day to eat healthy foods that are good for your body and move each day,” Clara advises. “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”