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Weight Watchers helps retired teacher drop 100 lbs., beat disability

Janet Richardson, 84, of West Hempstead, is shown

Janet Richardson, 84, of West Hempstead, is shown in June 2006, when she weighed 260 pounds, and recently, showing off her nearly 100-pound weight loss. Credit: Composite; Richardson family and Yeong-Ung Yang

Janet Richardson

84, West Hempstead

Occupation Retired teacher’s assistant

Height 5-foot-6

Before 260 pounds, June 2006

After 162 pounds, January 2018

Janet Richardson got into healthy, mindful eating at age 78 and lost nearly 100 pounds. Five years later, she’s still sporting a trim and youthful figure.

Richardson says she was overweight most of her adult life and tried Weight Watchers on and off. By August 2011, she weighed 260 pounds and was by any measure disabled. “I couldn’t stand for more than 60 seconds and always had to make sure there was a seat nearby,” she says. She was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and was taking medication for high blood pressure.

The situation was upsetting for Richardson’s 16 year-old granddaughter, Sarah, who knew her grandmother’s conditions put her at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Sarah told her, ‘You’re just not going to make it like this.” Richardson decided to lose 30 to 40 pounds to “just get healthy,” and turned to Weight Watchers.

“I was just ready. The program is so good, it became a lifestyle,” says Richardson. “The word diet should go out the window. It’s all portion control. Nothing is off limits with Weight Watchers,” says Richardson, who eventually lost 100 pounds in 11 months.

“I’ve never felt healthier. I still attend meetings every week and get weighed in. It keeps me in check.” Richardson’s doctor has said her heart is no longer enlarged. “It’s amazing how the body can repair itself,” she says.

Richardson starts her days with steel-cut oatmeal and a banana. Lunch can be tuna on a low-calorie rye bread with fruit — an orange, an apple or grapes — on the side. After lunch, she has a cup of chai tea that she enjoys with a Ghirardelli chocolate square. Dinner is usually salmon or cod, breaded with seasoned whole- wheat bread crumbs, a vegetable and a starch, such as a potato or whole-wheat pasta. Richardson says she weighs her proteins and buys only fresh foods, nothing packaged.

Richardson walks a mile in nearby Echo Park every day in good weather. She also gets active by following a “Moving With Mike” video. “It’s geared for seniors and is 15 minutes of circulation and flexibility exercises, along with routines with light weights,” Richardson says.

“Weight Watchers says to find your ‘why.’ Why do I want to do this? Is it health reasons or is it to look better, or is it something else? Once you find your why, it will help you achieve it,” Richardson says.