Diane Ripple: 'I went rock climbing for Valentine's Day'

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Who: Diane Ripple, 43
Town: Selden
Occupation: Learning disability education consultant

Height: 5'2"
Weight before: 333 (Aug. 2005)
Weight after: 153 (Mar. 2009)

Her story: In August 2005, Diane Ripple went to visit her new doctor. "She told me point blank, 'People with all your medical conditions don't live a long life,'" said Ripple, who at the time weighed 333 pounds, was dia- betic, and was taking 13 prescription pills.

Ripple took her doctor's words to heart.

She built a support network around her, including a nutritionist and a personal trainer. "I'm a smart and independent person," Ripple said. But she knew she couldn't do it on her own. Taking resolve one step further, Ripple cut off friendships with people who felt threatened by her changing physical appearance and reacted negatively toward her.

What she eats: "I'm a big bulk eater," Ripple said, so she eats a generous amount of low-calorie food. Breakfast consists of high-fiber cereal with nuts mixed in, and a banana. For lunch she enjoys a big salad with chicken or fish on top. Dinner is usually vegetables, whole-wheat pasta and lean chicken or turkey.

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Workouts: Despite hating the gym, Ripple joined one, and started out doing just 10 minutes on the treadmill four days a week. "My legs would hurt so badly. I would grab my legs and call someone and start crying."

She continued going, though, and today she is training for a half-marathon. "I went rock climbing for Valentine's Day," she said. "My trainer told me, 'You're an athlete.' I've never been told that in my life!"

Her advice: Losing 180 pounds is overwhelming, she said. "You have to take baby steps."

Ripple failed at dieting earlier because she focused too much on her weight, and not enough on how she felt. At 153 pounds, her goal now is to maintain a weight that makes her feel energized and healthy.

"I don't focus on the numbers of the scale," Ripple said. "Weight loss is really a side effect of taking care of yourself."

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