Who: Debra Chaffee, 46, of Oakdale
Occupation: Police communication supervisor for Nassau County Police Department
Height: 5-foot-3 1/2
Weight (before): 229 on Oct. 12, 2011
Weight (after): 144 on Aug. 28, 2012
HER STORY When she stopped smoking 13 years ago, Debra Chaffee turned to food to get her through the cravings.
"I was never really that heavy before, but I just ballooned," Chaffee says.
Even though she was overweight, it never really bothered her until the weather intervened.
"I was shoveling snow, and my husband, an EMT, thought I was having a heart attack," Chaffee says. "I wasn't, but he said I was having all the signs of one."
Even that scare wasn't enough. "I was all right with how much I weighed," Chaffee remembers.
It wasn't until the fall that a co-worker's persistence convinced her to join Weight Watchers.
DIET "I ate large portions of all the wrong things," remembers Chaffee, who also drank sugary juices and sweet tea. Now, she doesn't skip meals, nor does she eat snack food instead of a meal. Breakfast is coffee, cereal and skim milk. She has added more fruit to her diet, especially as a snack.
"If you have the fruits and vegetables accessible, you can eat something healthy without even thinking about it," says Chaffee, who eats out a lot because of her schedule. "I make healthy choices now when I eat out. And, I separate out the amount I want to eat and have the rest wrapped before I even start the meal."
EXERCISE "I basically sat on the couch a lot," Chaffee says.
Now, she rides a stationary bike 13 miles a day, seven days a week. She also uses arm weights and does crunches, lunges and pushups.
"I started small, 10 minutes a day," Chaffee says. "I'm now up to 90 minutes a day."
ADVICE "Take it one day at a time," Chaffee says. "If you make a wrong choice one day, just start the next day fresh."