Debbie Boccio Connors of Northport lost 25 pounds after joining...

Debbie Boccio Connors of Northport lost 25 pounds after joining Weight Watchers and re-instating exercise. Credit: composite

Who: Debbie Boccio Connors, 46

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom

Height: 5'5"
Weight before: 165 (January 2009)
Weight after: 140 (July 2010)

Her story: Debbie Boccio Connors experienced her moment of truth after a friend's birthday party, when she saw a photo of herself and asked her husband, "How could you let me go out looking like that?" A longtime Crohn's disease sufferer and avid runner, she had never worried about her weight, but after blowing out her knee while skiing and going through surgery and two years of rehab, and also hitting her 40s and experiencing a slowing metabolism, the weight started creeping on.

She joined Weight Watchers, started exercising again, and this year, a girlfriend who had started a bathing suit company geared to women who don't want frumpy or skimpy swimwear asked Connors to model one of her Swankini suits on the "Today" show in April. "I got great feedback - and I got to meet Kathie Lee, Hoda and Carol Burnett."

Her diet: "I'm a real advocate for Weight Watchers," Connors says. "I do the points. ... It was much easier to quantify what I was eating." She eats lots of fruits and vegetables, chicken and fish, and she stays away from red meat, fast-food spots and processed food. "Now that it's summer, I love to grill vegetables, and I enjoy eating yogurt," she says, adding, "I feel healthier."

Her exercise: Now that her knee has healed, Connors is running three miles a day.

Her advice: "For me, it's about commitment. If you really want to do this, you have to admit that it's not going to be easy. If you think it's going to be easy," she says, "you're setting yourself up to fail." But she also cautions about waiting to start until after that party or that big birthday or that holiday barbecue: "You just have to start ... and if you fall off that horse, don't beat yourself up - just get back on."

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