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Success Stories

Eating smart and moving more changes lives. Read how others just like you have found success and achieved their goals!

Michelle's Story

Two years ago I went shopping for a dress to wear to a wedding of a very dear friend. I knew I had put on some weight over the years but had no idea how much. After hours and hours of struggling to find a decent dress at my size, I decided I was too young to be so unhealthy!

Since then I have completely changed my lifestyle, diet, and attitude! I started jogging and working out 4-5 days a week and I have since ran 2 half marathons!

I did research and used any materials I could find to learn to eat healthy and have completely transformed my diet. I don't crave the sugar and junk food that I used to and I have started teaching my children at an early age how to eat healthier so that they don't have to struggle with their weight as well.

I am happier and healthier than ever now and have lost and kept off over 70 pounds! I try to use my experience to encourage others to do the same.

-- Michelle Reid

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Wakeup Call

Julie Williams

I had two close friends who suffered from health problems last summer without any warning signs - one had a heart attack and the other suffered from a stroke. This was a wakeup call for me. I'm a mother, a grandmother and I want to live a long, healthy life and enjoy my family. Also, I am a 15 year breast cancer survivor and knew I should be making healthier choices in my eating habits.

The changes I made were small. I used good common sense and did check out the Eat Smart, Move More NC website for some ideas. I also had close friends, especially at work, that have encouraged and supported me.

I decided to start making healthier food choices and to watch my portion control. I added more fruits and vegetables, and while I had never eaten a lot of fried foods, I did have a problem with unhealthy snacking in between meals. I also joined a walking program and now walk 2 miles about 4-5 times a week. I have never enjoyed exercising I have to admit. Starting out slow and making just a few changes at the time has really helped me. My motto is, "one day at the time."

I started this lifestyle change July 2011. When I first started, I only watched what I was eating and did not exercise much at all. I only lost four pounds and could not get any more off. I started walking and the weight immediately started dropping off. It appears I can maintain my weight as long as I continue to walk.

I knew I was successful when people started noticing that I was losing weight and when my clothes started fitting so much better. I also knew I was successful when there were days I did not want to exercise, but made myself do it no matter what. I do feel better physically when I exercise and eat healthier.

After making these changes, I feel better, my blood pressure is perfect and I have lowered my cholesterol by 14 points. I do not deny myself of eating foods that I enjoy. I just do it in moderation.

-- Julie Williams

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Second Chance

Second Chance

This recipe is a sure fire way to bring out the whole health for your body not just a temporary weight loss. When my heart attack occurred, I was basically helpless. I could barely move or breathe. At the hospital, the doctors quickly realized I had a blockage in a small artery at the back of my heart. The performed an angioplasty and discovered I had a twisted artery that was 98% blocked. They installed a stent. A twenty minute procedure saved my life. My father died 30 years ago from the same thing. Back then, the medical knowledge was not as it is today.

I realized I had a second chance. So I immediately adopted a much healthier lifestyle which included eating good stuff, not eating hydrogenated foods, being conscious of my body and what it told me, and a bunch of physical activity to strengthen my heart, burn off the bad fats and make me much more of a stronger person.

What worked for me was becoming a vegetarian. This may not work for everyone. Every day I eat whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and drink water. For other people, some lean meat added may be good. I always use oils that are mono-saturated such as olive oil, canola oil. I never use vegetable or corn oil. I began slowly working out using the treadmill, stationary bikes and light weights. I graduated to take hot yoga, running and intensive cardio. A year after the incident, I actually ran a road race where I ran a mile in 11 minutes. This was a huge goal for me and made my confidence jump. I continued to eat well and try new exercises like mixed martial arts and boxing. It soon became a life style.

The results were amazing. It is just as important to me to be healthy on the inside as the outside. People are different. I lost a lot of weight and became much stronger and confident. I continue to follow the same principles focusing on the healthy inside.

- Steven Mesrey

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It Takes the Mind to Lose It

It Takes the Mind to Lose It

About two years ago, my doctor told me I have diabetes and stand the risk of having a stroke - it was a wakeup call for me to start taking care of my health.

I started by taking advantage of the health revolution program at my place of work. I learned how to take control of my eating habits, stopped drinking sodas, reduced my portion sizes and ate more vegetables and fruits than carbohydrates. I also started to walk around my house after supper, and made sure to eat breakfast every day!

Simple life style changes helped me loose weight. After about two months I noticed that my clothes started getting "bigger" and I had more energy. I dropped from size 16/18W to size 8/10 - and my diabetes started to improve!

This experience has changed my life - I now understand the relationship between food and weight and have a positive attitude that I can take control of my health and be who I want to be.

-- Patricia Umanah

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Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

I'm learning how to cook healthier, so several weeks ago I went to the market and purchased lots of beautiful fruits and veggies. I was so proud of my purchase…I used them in soups, steps and casseroles.

My problem was forgetting them in the crisper drawers of my refrigerator and them going bad. Out of sight - out of mind! So, I pulled everything from the drawers and put the healthy foods in reach on the first shelf. I'm more aware of what I have and it doesn't go bad!

-- Sheila Hardy

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Personal Gains

Toni before

Personal Gains

On September 27, 2006 I was walking up Warren Street in Shelby, NC and the slight grade was almost too much for me to handle. At 43 years old I weighed 260 pounds at only 5' 3" tall. Huffing and puffing my way up the street, I was mortified. My sedentary, food-filled life had caught up with me. The next day I joined a gym for women. I knew in order to be successful I could only make so many changes at a time so I focused on making sure I could establish a habit of getting to the gym.

Toni after

Three and half years, three gyms and lots of dietary changes later I've lost 80 pounds, completed the Cooper River Bridge Run (a 10k run) in Charleston, SC and have never looked better. Every day is a challenge but it's a challenge that I choose!

My story shows what eating better most of the time and moving a little can do. I didn't make huge changes. All are things that anyone can do.

--Toni Jones

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Simple Solution

Simple Solution

I'm a health educator and have always known HOW to lose weight, but implementation has been a problem. I love to exercise so movement isn't an issue. I also love sweets and just eating good food in general. I do all of my own cooking at home and only eat out about once a month. I've tried many things to lose weight, but nothing has worked because they have been changes that were too big or hard for me to stick to.

For some reason one little TRICK and a support group have helped me to finally lose weight.

The trick is to simply focus on the fruits and veggies. I make sure to eat at least 1 cup of vegetables and 1 cup of fruit at each meal. Then I go ahead and eat whatever else I want in the quantities I want. I believe that by increasing my fruits and veggies, I must have cut down on other higher calorie foods without really realizing it.

Joining a support group has really helped me stay motivated! I still eat chocolate or some other sweet at least once a day (and sometimes more often), but again, I must be eating smaller quantities because I am full and still losing weight!

-- Carla Piedrahita

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Tracy Hager's Story

I have gained about 75 lbs in the last few years from doing absolutely nothing and doing nothing to stop it until about 2-3 months ago. I saw information that Eat Smart, Move More NC was going to be at the local YMCA. I went to the Eat Smart, Move More NC website and started reading.

Reading the tips and success from your site gave me the will I needed to at least try more to eat right and do more. Since then I have been camping every weekend, taking hikes and walking our local track. I even went as far as to cut all unhealthy food from my daily diet and drink more water now in one day then I probably drank in a week before starting this journey.

I have lost about 16 lbs and have a far way to go, but I know I must eat smart and move more to get there. I will! Thanks for the uplift in my life -- I really needed it.

-- Tracy Hager

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My Success

I just wanted to take a moment to let you know about my success and how Eat Smart, Move More NC played an important role.

Last year I was considered "obese" by my doctor at my routine yearly exam. I never considered myself as such, so his announcement both startled me and made me take a hard look at myself.

Now, 10 months later, I am 26 pounds lighter and look forward to seeing the Eat Smart, Move More NC newsletter each month to help me stay on track. I hope to reach my goal weight by the end of 2010.

The meal plans, the recipes and the exercise tips have helped me stay the course. A big thank you for your help.

-- Marianne

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Losing Weight

I have lost 27 pounds since last February and so far I have kept it off. I am a diabetic so a food choice means so much to me. Once I started dropping pounds it just kept coming off but I felt so great. Here are tips that have helped me:

  • Instead of piling your plate high, try cutting it in half. You will learn that you feel better and when you used to fill your plate high it was out of habit.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • If you have a craving for something sweet try eating a bite or two of it but then leave it alone. Trust me it is not easy but the rewards are so nice.

Now when I have finished my meal I do not feel stuffed to the point I cannot do anything but I actually feel like doing things. Also when trying to lose weight you have to remember you are not dieting but you are making a life long change in your eating habits. People that tend to lose the weight they want end up going right back within a year and it's all because they did not want to stick with that life long commitment of feeling great. It was easy for me as my family is my biggest support group and they eat what I eat. My husband even cooks all healthy foods now instead of fried foods all the time.

-- Misty D. Everhart

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Lisa Burwell's Story

Lisa Burwell


My work had its first "Biggest Loser" contest this past spring where I lost 13 lbs. I have lost a total of 25 lbs in 6 months after reducing my food intake (I still enjoy eating some sweets) and increasing my activity. I get up early at least 5 days a week and do 20-30 minutes on my Wii Fit using the EA Active Personal Trainer. Then at lunch I go over to the gym at work (Caswell Developmental Center) and exercise 30-45 minutes (treadmill, elliptical and free weights).

I think what has motivated me the most was weighing-in in front of someone each week during the Biggest Loser. I also have brought my overall cholesterol as well as my triglycerides down tremendously. We have another Biggest Loser contest starting tomorrow at work. I have another 10 pounds that I'd like to loose which would put me at the top of the healthy weight range for my height and age.

I look and feel so much better in my clothes better then I have in over 20 years! I've finally done it without fad diets or foreign substances in my body.

--Lisa Burwell

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Beth Bonar's Story

Balancing Act

I have struggled with my weight since birth. Mostly I would sneak and eat food because I was bored. Any opportunity or excuse and I would eat anything and everything. If I was depressed, happy, bored, celebrating any occasion -- you name it, it was with food.

My mother always said I shouldn't be eating that, or don't you think you should only have one. Being told you can't have something always makes you want to eat it even more. I was a closet eater and I would hide food that I shouldn't eat and then eat it when nobody was looking. I didn't want people to see me eat food that was unhealthy.

The first time I went on a real diet was when I was in 7th grade. My school was having diet classes for the students. It was a competition to see who could lose the most weight. I lost 28 lbs and was the winner of the contest. From that point on I was on and off (mostly off) diets all my life.

I reached my heaviest, in 1991, and went on the Weight Watchers Diet. I joined the YWCA and worked out three to four nights a week lifting weights and swimming. It was great and I was the healthiest I've ever been. I lost 83 lbs in about a year. I was so happy with my success, I applied to become a Weight Watchers leader. When I was denied the opportunity, I started eating again.

All that hard work went by the wayside. Within a few years my weight was back up around 200 lbs. I was pretty upset with myself. I reached a turning point. I'd had it with being overweight. I worried that I was cutting my life short with bad eating habits. I wanted to be healthy.

Lucky for me my work was just starting up a program called Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less. It was a 15 week class, not a diet, but a way of thinking. I finally got my motivation again when I started the classes. They taught all of the basics that were needed to have a healthier lifestyle. I didn't need to be rail thin to be happy, I just wanted to lose weight to a point that I could maintain it easily.

No one diet was going to work for me (I've been on almost all of them) and I really didn't want to be told again in my life that I can't eat something. It was nice to go to class and hear a positive message and get tools to help make it easier to achieve my goal.

I decided that I would eat the best calories I could and exercise. This would mean I would try to eat more fruits and veggies, less meat, and better grains. And if I wanted an ice cream cone I would work it in my daily intake.

At this point in my balancing act I am happier than ever with my eating habits. I am even looking into becoming a dietitian so that I can help others with their own balancing act. I have lost over 55 pounds and am now working to maintain my goal.

-- Beth Bonar

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Lifestyle Change I Can Live With

Years of sedentary office work and indiscriminate eating contributed to me becoming obese. Concerned about my weight, I joined the 2008 Maintain Don't Gain Holiday Challenge and began watching what I eat and taking daily walks. I held my weight constant through the holidays and as I began to walk more started losing weight.

I changed my diet to avoid eating sweets and refined grain. Instead of skipping breakfast and eating a fast food lunch, I carry a can of vegetable juice, nuts, fruit, vegetables and a meat or dairy product to work most days and eat a sensible meal for supper.

These changes were not hard to make and are now my established eating pattern. I have lost 25 pounds over the course of the last year and though I am still overweight, I am no longer in the obese category. I feel better and have lost 6 inches around my belly. I look forward to my daily walks as they have become my favorite daily activity (only 30 minutes every day).

-- Jim Hayes

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Who said wedding cake can't inspire health?

Anna and Matthew's recipe for success:

  • 1 dash of competition
  • 1 heaping spoonful of good choices
  • 1 truck load of commitment

We were going to be starting our life together and both wanted to feel and look our best for the big day and beyond! We decided to go with the simple but true method of eating better, and increasing exercise. Our goal was to create healthy habits we could to stick with for life, as well as look and feel amazing on our wedding day!

We decided to add a little competition -- which of us could lose the largest percentage of weight by our wedding date. We weighed once a week, but kept the numbers a secret. It was really motivating! We wrote notes with what we wanted our prize to be and sealed them. On our last weigh in we told our losses and opened the notes.

The changes we made:
Healthy Eating - Cooking meals at home, religious label reading, calorie counting, upping fruits and veggies, lean meats only, cutting out sugars, better portion-control, drinking lots of water, started a garden

Physical Activity - Added morning workouts, went through a "boot camp" cycle at a local church, walked to work, got in to a jogging routine, took walks together in the evenings, started a garden, took the stairs

How we did it:
We added steps one at a time to not get overwhelmed. First we started with extra walking. Then we started examining our food choices, and upgrading to healthier ones. After those we kept stepping it up -- increasing the time and intensity of workouts, finding new recipes and foods, etc.

After the first two weeks we both had lost, and noticed a change in energy level. We knew we were successful when the changes became habits and were second nature! When I look at our wedding pictures I feel overwhelming joy -- I see our hard work and love for each other.

Now we have good healthy habits! We have more energy, and a great active lifestyle. Matthew decided to start a garden (it is his first!).

Looking at the big-picture, I am so glad that we took this time to get healthy -- I think we are happier, better people for it, which makes us a happier, better couple. Our work to get healthy made our wedding so special. I while I am happy that the dress looked good, I am even happier that we both made a commitment to health so we could live a long happy life together.

-- Anna Hamby

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RoSeé Murphy's Story


I am 33 years old and I have lost a total of over 20lbs just by eating right and getting back in the habit of being active and exercising regularly.

I started out at 130 back in 2007, the same year I quit smoking cigarettes (Yippee for me!!!). After quitting I started gaining weight. My appetite was bigger and by December 2009, I weighed 156 pounds – more than I weighed when pregnant with my kids!

About 8 months ago, I was diagnosed with hypertension and my doctors put me on meds that caused me to have side effects. For several months I was severely sick and eventually my heart specialist told me to stop taking the hypertension meds. I asked about other options than taking medicine and the doctor said if I changed up my eating habits and exercised, I would be ok.

I started out with a very high protein, high fiber diet. The only meat I eat is chicken and fish (NEVER fried -- only grilled or broiled). I cut out sodas and chips. I exercised for at least an hour a day -- it got to be so much fun, I didn't mind at all!

My metabolism came back! My energy came back! And now I am currently creating my own weight loss program for my community! I am ever so excited and grateful because I have been off of meds for about 3 months now and my blood pressure is looking good!

-- RoSeé Murphy

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