Holly Kyriacou, 47, Mastic Beach
Occupation Bank customer service representative
Before 195 pounds, October 2016 After 126 pounds, January 2019
Raising their four kids and caring for her husband, who suffered from a chronic illness for 20 years, Holly Kyriacou says she often made herself feel better by eating.
“It was my happiness. I felt I did so much, it was my reward. A Ring Ding or a cookie and a cup of tea,” says Kyriacou. But the Ring Ding thing turned into more than one and one cookie turned into half a sleeve. Kyriacou says she spent 15 years being overweight.
Her husband died in 2015. Two things happened in 2016 that made her realize she had to make a change. Someone she knew died suddenly on her bathroom floor from a heart attack, she says.
“Here I was a single parent now. I had to get healthy for my kids," says Kyriacou. Second, she gave thought to the many people she encountered in hospitals who were bedridden and likely would’ve done anything to be healthy and get up and walk again. “And here I was at home on my couch,” she says.
So she dusted off her treadmill, turned on Melissa Etheridge’s song "Run for Life" and started moving. Walking, then running. She stopped eating sweets and worked with small free weights. She did sit-ups and pushups every day.
“I just started doing more and noticed the weight coming off,” says Kyriacou, who lost 50 pounds that way. She started thinking about dating and her appearance, she says. “I wanted to look nice going out to dinner.” Though never a gym person because she didn’t want to take time away from her kids, she enrolled at one. “Now I do it at 5 a.m. and love it.”
Down 69 pounds, Kyriacou says, “My biggest joy now is feeling so good. I feel so young.”
A bowl of cereal with 1 percent milk, coffee and a protein drink suffice for breakfast, says Kyriacou. Lunch, which she brings prepared from home, can be leftovers from the previous evening or a green salad with grilled chicken or hard-boiled eggs. Kyriacou stresses that she eats anything, just in smarter portions now. Dinner can be a slice of meatloaf, a small portion of potatoes and string beans or a slice of pizza with no crust. She enjoys fruit smoothies twice a week and snacks on dry cereal, Ritz crackers, Pepperidge Farm goldfish or granola bars.
Kyriacou is at the gym for 60 to 90 minutes five or six days a week, she says. She uses an elliptical machine for 40 minutes, burning at least 250 calories. Then she works on free weights and weight machines. “I totally enjoy it. It’s a release for stress and anxiety. It’s my new reward,” says Kyriacou.
“When you have children, it’s no longer about you, it’s about the kids. But you also have to make time for yourself. Push yourself to take time for yourself.”