39, North Babylon
257 Weight before November 2010
143 Weight by March 2012
Being overweight sort of just crept up on Jennifer Knecht, a stay-at-home mother of four. But the realization that she finally had to lose weight hit her out of the blue. "I was on a mommy trip to Aruba," Knecht remembers. "I couldn't fit into one seat. Let's just say I was very close to my neighbor on that flight. And I had to use a seat belt extension."
Knecht, who never had flown, said she had begun staying at home to avoid the perceived stares of others. "I had very low self-esteem," she says, adding that she wasn't a big overeater. "I just never moved. I hated exercise."
With four children, she also spent a lot of time going through fast-food drive-through lines. She had been diagnosed with hypertension and high cholesterol. "There also is a history of diabetes in my family," says Knecht, who adds that sweets were her downfall. "I liked anything sugary and bready things."
Once she had her epiphany, she started the South Beach Diet and joined a gym.
"No one else in my family struggles with their weight," Knecht says, saying that she makes sure her husband and children are conscious of what they eat. "Now, I realize that in order to take care of others, I have to take care of myself."
Even now, she follows the principles of the South Beach Diet -- eating lots of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins but not much fat. "I usually have an egg-white omelet with spinach and low-fat cheese for breakfast," she says. "Lunch is usually either a turkey sandwich or a salad with beans or tuna. Dinner is usually the same or a protein with steamed vegetables, a sweet potato or brown rice."
She's a member of the Lucille Roberts gym in Bay Shore, where she takes a morning cardio class and an afternoon toning class seven days a week. "I have one of those bodies where dieting alone wouldn't do it," she says. "I like the toning because I didn't want to lose weight and have all that excess skin. People see how toned I am and can't believe how much I used to weigh."
"Don't give up," Knecht says. "It can be done. No matter how long it takes, it can be done." She says a quote from the late actress Audrey Hepburn is her inspiration: "Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible!' "