HER STORY Chunky growing up, Colleen McWilliams says she really packed on the pounds after she married and had children.

"I just got heavier and heavier," says McWilliams, who eventually became diabetic. "I was on three different medicines for Type II diabetes, and it didn't fully control it. I was also taking medicine for high cholesterol. I didn't even have the energy to exercise."

Describing herself as a bulk eater, she says her downfall was fatty, salty foods and fast food. "It didn't matter what I ate, I ate a lot of it," McWilliams remembers.

Unhealthy and unhappy, she underwent bariatric lap band surgery, but says she lost only about 20 pounds because she didn't really change her lifestyle. Feeling that she needed to do something more to be successful, she joined Weight Watchers.

"I joined with a friend who stopped after a few months," McWilliams remembers of joining on Valentine's Day 2011. "But I stuck to it. I guess it was just my time to do it."

DIET Her typical breakfast is two slices of light whole-wheat toast with low-cal cream cheese, an omelet with one egg and three egg whites and low-cal cheese. She snacks on almonds and fruit. Lunch is a salad with lean protein or soup. Dinner usually is roasted vegetables with chicken or shrimp.

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EXERCISE After years of being sedentary, she works out for 90 minutes three times a week doing cardio and weight training. She also hikes on the weekend. "I can now hike eight miles," McWilliams says with pride.

ADVICE "Don't give up, 'cause being healthy is worth it," McWilliams says. "Even if you only lose one pound a week, you're chipping away at it."


Colleen McWilliams

@Newsday

46, Wading River

Occupation School bus driver

Height 5-foot-7

294 Weight before November 2010

155 Weight by May 19, 2014