Gail Michaelsen of Raleigh zooms down a zipline, beaming up at readers from her full-page photo in the July/August issue of Fitness magazine. Her smile spans ear to ear, almost big enough to draw the readers attention away from the 2010 snapshot of Michaelsen at a very different time in her life.
In the small thumbnail, Michaelsen, a business analyst, is unrecognizable. At 272 pounds, her 5-foot-2 frame fit into a size 26 and she became winded after climbing one flight of stairs. She ate enough for four people at every meal and purchased takeout nearly every night for dinner. It wasnt until a friend took her picture at a party that Michaelsen decided to do something about her weight.
I used to avoid the camera, Michaelsen said. Upon seeing the picture, she concluded, I didnt want to start my forties the way I started my thirties. I knew I had to change.
Using the Jenny Craig weight-loss program as her guide, Michaelsen lost 2 to 3 pounds a week. Through the program, she quickly learned that she had no idea what one serving looked like.
After changing her eating habits, Michaelsen began to take walks with her co-worker. She eventually gathered enough confidence to join a gym, where she now does cardio exercise several days a week. It took her awhile to warm up to the exercise machines, which she described as torture devices.
A mere three years later, Michaelsen is half her original weight a healthy weight for someone her height, according to standards set by the National Institute of Health.
For her 40th birthday, she flew to Costa Rica and went ziplining. The adrenaline junkie has also been skydiving and will soon go hiking and rafting at the Grand Canyon. And now, thanks to Jenny Craig consultants, her success story is in a national magazine.
I just enjoy moving around more, she said of her new lifestyle and physique. Since her weight loss, Michaelsen has participated in three 5K races and hopes to run in a half marathon and 10K soon.
Set small goals and take it one day at a time, she advises those trying to lose weight. Dont think about how far you have to go; think about something you can do differently today.