Dropping LBs: Mary Lou Farrell, Centereach

Mary Lou Farrell of Centereach, who in the Mary Lou Farrell of Centereach, who in the left photo weighs 306 pounds, lost 120 pounds in 12 months after joining Jenny Craig. (2011) Photo Credit: Handout/Jacqueline Connor

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MARY LOU FARRELL, 64, Centereach

OCCUPATION: Receptionist-cashier at Competition Toyota in Middle Island

HEIGHT: 5-foot-7 1/2

WEIGHT BEFORE: 306 lbs (June 2011)

WEIGHT AFTER: 186 lbs (June 25, 2012)

HER STORY: Farrell's struggle with her weight began in her 30s. Although she had felt fat in her teens and 20s, she realizes now that she didn't have a weight problem back then.

As her weight increased, Farrell began to change her life. "I haven't been on a plane in four years," Farrell says. "People can be very cruel. I went on a trip to Hawaii and a person in the visitor center came over to me and said, 'Why are you so big?'

"I quit doing a lot of things because of my weight," says Farrell, who notes that many people in her family struggle with their weight. "I quit going to the beach and would only wear shorts on vacation where no one knew me."

After catching a glimpse of herself in a mirror, she became so upset that she immediately started calling to find a place to have bariatric surgery. Instead, she decided to go to Jenny Craig and signed on for the whole program.

"I love being able to get on the train and not worry about where I'll sit or if the person next to me doesn't want me sitting next to them," Farrell says.

She no longer takes medicine for her cholesterol and she now takes one pill for her blood pressure, instead of two different pills. "I was prediabetic when I was overweight and that scared the heck out of me," Farrell says.

DIET: She has a Jenny Craig meal for breakfast, followed by a Jenny Craig meal and a salad for lunch. Dinner is a Jenny Craig meal with vegetables. If she goes out for dinner, she usually only eats about a third of the meal served.

EXERCISE: She goes to the gym every other day for almost two hours. She does an hour of cardio and then 45 minutes of weights. And she always takes a walk during the day at work.

ADVICE: "Unless it is happening to you, I can't tell you what a mental weight the physical weight is," Farrell says. "Don't allow your weight to keep you from being who you're supposed to be. No matter what your weight is, get out and do things."

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