Tanya Roman points to her ethnicity and poor eating habits as roots of her weight problem. “I have a Puerto Rican background and we eat lots of rice, beans and fried foods,” says Roman. She says she didn’t eat much during the day while busy at work, but evening meals with her two sons was either fast food or a big meal she would prepare but not eat until about 9 p.m. Change came after she accompanied her son to a birthday party at Country Fair Entertainment Park in Medford. Because he was below the height minimum for go-carts, she had to ride with him but couldn’t fit in the cart. An employee saw her struggling, helped her out and volunteered to take her son for the ride. “It was both powerful and sad and changed everything for me. I told myself I needed to make a change,” says Roman.

She had gastric sleeve surgery 15 months ago and says her recovery went well. She consumed only liquids the first three weeks, followed by two weeks of soft foods. She lost 20 pounds the first month.

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“My whole outlook has changed. I used to want to hide. Now I love being out. My kids and I walk trails or go biking. I’m a single mom. It’s not like a lot of money is being spent, but memories are being created. This weekend we’re going back to Country Fair and I’m riding in that go-cart.”

Roman does her weekly meal prep on Sundays. She eats every two hours and starts with a hard-boiled egg at 7 a.m. and a portioned container of unsweetened apple sauce at 9 a.m. While she sips water throughout the day, she downs 8 ounces of water at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Lunch is 3 ounces of grilled chicken and one-quarter cup of cooked mixed vegetables. She has one-quarter cup of sliced strawberries mixed with apple sauce at 5 p.m. Dinner is a repeat of lunch — chicken and vegetables. As a rule, she doesn’t eat after 7 p.m. “Every now and then I treat myself to a little ice cream or a sugar-free pop,” says Roman. She takes daily vitamins.

Roman devotes 30 minutes a day to walking several days a week. That’s in addition to the biking and hiking activities she does with her sons.

“Start now — don’t wait until tomorrow. Get motivated. It isn’t easy, but the end result is a lifetime present to yourself.”