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Dropping Pounds: Jennie Lewis, once at 449

HER STORY After a lifetime of being overweight, Jennie Lewis was morbidly obese. She was on insulin, could walk only short distances and was in the early stages of kidney failure.

"I was on long-term disability," says Lewis, who was unable to attend the high school graduation of either of her two daughters.

The divorced mother of three was in such poor health that she was refused bariatric surgery because doctors weren't sure she would survived it.

It was an appearance by Dr. Mehmet Oz on "Oprah" that turned the corner for her. "He discussed making little changes," Lewis says. "I began making little changes. I quit frying anything. I added fresh vegetables and fruit."

Her sister and a cousin belonged to Weight Watchers and would share information. On her own, she lost 68 pounds in four months. With that loss, she was able to finally leave the prison that her home had become and started attending Weight Watchers meetings in Lynbrook in June 2009.

After losing so much weight, Lewis had medically necessary cosmetic surgery to remove 3.6 pounds of skin around her stomach. "There are issues of infection when you have that much skin hanging," she says.

Lewis is now off all medication and has returned to nursing. "And, I'm more alive than I ever was before," Lewis says.

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DIET "My problem was a combination of food choices and portion control," says Lewis. "Now, I weigh and measure everything.'' Breakfast is oatmeal or an egg white omelet with fresh vegetables and low-fat cheese. She has at least two snacks a day of fruit, yogurt or low-fat cheese. Lunch is a salad with vegetables, fruit and avocado. Dinner is grilled vegetables, low-fat turkey chili or other low-fat meals.

"I prepare a lot of meals in advance, and just pop them in the microwave when I get home," Lewis says. "I never let myself get hungry to the point I have to get on the drive-through line."

EXERCISE She goes to the gym every day, jogging at 4.5 to 5 mph at the maximum incline.

ADVICE "Try one lifestyle change at a time," Lewis says. "Change one way you prepare food, or add a short walk each day."

"Don't think about the number on the scale," says Lewis. "The number will become overwhelming. You can get satisfaction and motivation by visualizing a goal of 5 pounds. Focus on small goals."


Jennie Lewis

55, Valley Stream

Occupation Nurse in Stony Brook Primary Care, East Setauket

Height 5-foot-5

449 Weight before November 2008

144 Weight after Julyl 29, 2012

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