Obesity ran in Rowan’s family, where food was always part of an emotional reward system. “I grew up living to eat. Bad day or a good day, I ate,” Rowan said.
She realized that being overweight was keeping her from doing many things, just by thinking, “I’m a fat person, I can’t do that.”
Ending her first long-term relationship led to change. “I was so unhappy with that relationship and wanted control back in my life. I knew I could control how I looked and how I viewed myself.”
She realized that meal preparation was necessary and that she couldn’t just grab food on the fly anymore. She started planning and preparing meals and always had almonds or fruit on hand for snacking. “I made sure I had no excuse to not eat healthy.”
Rowan started walking a two-mile path at the West Meadow Beach in Setauket that led to jogging it, then running it. She still goes back there periodically to remind herself of how far she’s come. “That’s where we got engaged. My fiancé knew how important it was to me,” says Rowan.
When the compliments on her appearance started slowing, she thought she wasn’t working hard enough, until she realized she wasn’t viewed as someone with a weight problem anymore.
Breakfast is usually homemade oatmeal with cinnamon and brown sugar and a hard-boiled egg an hour later. Lunch can be a half-cup of brown rice and grilled chicken and broccoli. For dinner, she eats whatever she makes for her husband but serves her meal on a dessert plate to limit portion sizes.
She snacks on nonfat yogurt, fruits, vegetables and almonds. “I still go out socially and drink and snack, but that’s why my eating is regimented most of the time. I still have freedom to go out socially and indulge,” says Rowan.
Rowan started walking at a high incline on the treadmill and doing some circuit training. Now she does outdoor HIIT (high intensity interval training) running, which is alternating running, jogging and sprinting. She says it’s a shorter workout but more calories are burned. Plus, she does some weight training.
“You need to want it,” she says. “This is a lifetime commitment. Don’t get discouraged. Walking 20 minutes is better than spending 20 minutes feeling bad about how you look.”
— ANN DONAHUE-SMUKLER