HER STORY Eileen Darwin has watched her weight for 43 years. After growing up skinny, she says it was her freshman year at New York University that caused her weight to balloon by nearly 50 pounds. "My first year was tough," remembers Darwin. "I spent hours studying and then rode the subway from Brooklyn to NYU five days a week. By the end of my freshman year, I was enormous. I had a huge chest and rear end, heavy arms and legs and a full face."
Darwin's parents enrolled her in a weight-loss school for seven weeks that summer. In addition to walking nine blocks daily to the subway, Darwin was weighed each morning, then spent the day in exercise classes and learning to eat healthfully. "Our teacher was always dressed fashionably," Darwin remembers of the rigorous summer that started her on a lifetime of good health. "We would be lectured on what to eat, how to dress, how to wear makeup and how to do our hair," Darwin says. "A food list was sent to my parents, and my mother changed the food she bought so that I stayed on my diet."
With the support of her family, Darwin lost the weight that summer, dropping back to 124 pounds. "I am still grateful to my parents for spending a great deal of money to help me look nice and be healthy," says Darwin, who adds that she can wear shorts, swimsuits and anything else she likes because she has been able to maintain her weight.
DIET Breakfast is half an English muffin, orange juice and coffee. Lunch often is tuna fish with a slice of cheese on an open-faced sandwich or cereal. Dinner is usually fruit, a chicken breast with vegetables and a little oil and vinegar, and the occasional baked potato. She is not much of a snacker, but will have the occasional cookie with tea before bed.
EXERCISE Darwin says she goes to a gym twice weekly for 70 minutes of aerobics. She also walks daily for 20 minutes and takes stairs whenever possible.
ADVICE "I learned I don't have to have big portions, to stay away from sugar and make sure I exercise."
83, Huntington Station
Occupation: Retired teacher
Height: 5-foot-51 / 4
167 Weight before June 1949
124 Weight after July 11, 2014