Occupation: Retired nurse
Height: 5 feet
Weight before January 2010: 211
Weight after March 2012: 147
In 2003, Leahy was diagnosed with cancer. She also weighed more than 260 pounds, had hypertension and was considered morbidly obese. One of her consulting surgeons said if she didn't lose weight, she likely wouldn't survive the surgery she needed for her treatment. She started attending Weight Watchers and lost 40 pounds. She was able to have the surgery successfully, had radiation and chemotherapy and has been cancer-free for nine years.
Unfortunately, she eventually stopped attending meetings and the weight crept back on. "I was taking care of my mother and then had to put her in a nursing home," Leahy remembers. "There was a lot of stress in my life."
When the scale tipped 200 pounds, she decided that she had to do something. It was back to Weight Watchers and back to writing everything down.
She acknowledges still having some cravings. "I don't so much like sweets," Leahy says. "I like salty snacks like nuts and chips, and real food."
She says her meetings helped her overcome these. "You still get the cravings," she says, "but you learn to just wait a few minutes and they usually pass. You learn that you don't have to give in all the time."
Although not a vegan, she lives with one. "My daughter cooks vegan," says Leahy, who says she always has meat for Sunday dinner. "Weekly dinners are always vegan." She has dairy and cheese each morning and salad with a protein for lunch. "I try not to snack in the evenings, but that is difficult," says Leahy, who says snacks now are usually fruit with hummus or cherry tomatoes.
She walks every day. "When I started, I could only walk up the block and back," says Leahy, who now walks two to three hours each morning. "It is my favorite thing," she says. She also goes to the gym three days a week and does chair yoga once a week.
"Find an exercise you like," she says. "You just have to stick to something because, just like the bad things became a habit, the good things can become a habit." She also says that surviving cancer taught her to take things one day at a time. "Remember that you didn't gain weight all at once, and you won't lose it all at once."