Police clerk near end of 16-month bid to lose 90 pounds
CHAMPAIGN — There was a time when Teri Weems would have said you're crazy if you tried to tell her she would enjoy going to cycling classes, training for a half-marathon and eating her veggies.
But that was more than 80 pounds ago.
A 49-year-old fiscal clerk at the Champaign Police Department, Weems has been on a 16-month quest to lose 90 pounds, and she has got just seven more to lose.
Weems will be one of about a half-dozen speakers to share their experiences at a Weight Watchers Success Stories event set for 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at 37 E. Marketview Drive, C.
The event is open to the public and intended to inspire people who have been considering weight loss and answer their questions about the Weight Watchers program, said leader/coach Jennifer Rodeheaver.
Weems remembers putting on excess weight over the years as her son was growing up.
"I think I just wasn't paying a lot of attention to me, to my health, to how I was feeling," she said.
When her son went away to college, Weems said, she took a new look at herself.
She remembers her first weigh-in at Weight Watchers, deciding to lose 90 pounds and thinking, "Wow, that's a long way to go."
But as she shed pounds, Weems says she learned something important about herself.
"I can do anything I want to do," she says.
Along the way, Weems says she learned how to eat differently, choosing more whole foods over processed foods. And weighing and measuring portions taught her that she used to have "a skewed sense" of what a serving size really was, she said.
Weems has still been able to go out with friends to eat in restaurants, even have a beer or a glass of wine if she wants, as long as she keeps track and balances what she eats.
"I didn't want to lock myself in the house till I reached my goal weight," she said. "That's not how I wanted to live."
It hasn't been all about what and how to eat.
Soon after starting her diet, Weems started walking and gradually built up her stamina from being able to handle just a couple of blocks to walking an hour a day. When the weather turned too cold to walk, she started exercising at the workout room at the police department, and one of the lieutenants offered help adding weightlifting to her routine.
She decided to tackle a 5K run in the Illinois Marathon last summer, "and that was a neat accomplishment for me," she said.
She took part in a fitness boot camp last summer and when that ended, switched to twice-a-week cycling classes she loves. Now she's planning to take on a half-marathon.
Weems says these are all permanent lifestyle changes for her. Not that she still doesn't like chocolate — she eats some every day, she says. But it would be hard for her to imagine now going without exercise, fruits and vegetables every day.
"This is probably the healthiest I've ever been in my life," she said.
Teri Weems' secrets to weight-loss success
1. Remembering it's a one-step-at-a-time process that isn't accomplished overnight.
2. Establishing good routines that include becoming more active, keeping the right foods on hand at home and carting along a healthy snack for the times hunger pains could lead to a fast food downfall.
3. Not going it alone: The Weight Watchers program and going to regular meetings have helped her with motivation, support and ideas to keep her interest charged.