HER STORY It was pregnancy that caused Debbi Hole's weight to balloon. "I gained 70 pounds with my first child and never lost it," says Hole, now the mother of four.
It was a diagnosis of breast cancer that she says helped her turn the corner to good health.
Hole was diagnosed in May 2010 and had to undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, losing 24 pounds through the process. Although she was declared cancer-free in January 2011, she says she was both mentally and physically exhausted.
"One of the nurse practitioners told me that exercise would help counter the fatigue I was feeling because of the chemotherapy," Hole says.
That advice was lifesaving, Hole says. "Unless you're overweight, you don't know how much being overweight changes your life," she says. "I didn't go to the beach because I didn't want anyone to see me in a bathing suit." She also loved roller coasters but didn't ride them because she was afraid she'd be told she was too large for a seat.
"I now feel stronger and more confident than I have for a long time," Hole says.
DIET "I drank a lot of my calories," she says of her soda habit. "That was more than 600 calories a day in sugary drinks."
A nutritionally wiser Hole now enjoys oatmeal and a glass of milk for breakfast every day. She snacks on fruit and nuts morning and afternoon. Lunch is usually a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with fruit. For dinner, she has what everyone else is eating, but with the addition of extra vegetables and fruit.
"I reserve the last 250 calories of the day just for me, for a snack," says Hole, who largely drinks water and only an occasional diet soda with dinner.
EXERCISE Previously exercise averse, Hole now runs five miles twice a week. A member of Lucille Roberts, she works out an hour a day at least five days a week, focusing on toning and cardio.
"My kids say I'm addicted to exercise," Hole says. "I just know I love exercising now and would never give it up."
ADVICE "Walk, run, just find something you can do," Hole says. "You can control what you eat, but it is exercise that will really take the weight off."