Slimmer, trying to keep the weight off |

Slimmer, trying to keep the weight off

April E. Clark
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

Vail, CO ColoradoGLENWOOD SPRINGS – For April Brandt, reality isn’t a TV show documenting her weight loss. It’s not a commercial for a wonder pill illustrating how she lost six dress sizes in three short months.Reality is dragging herself from her bed at 4:30 a.m. to work out on the treadmill. Reality is controlling her meal sizes so she doesn’t overeat -even when chocolate’s involved.Brandt’s reality is going from 222 pounds – at 5 foot, 4 inches – to 135 pounds in four years. And, at 49, keeping the weight off.”I was never in denial,” said Brandt, who lives in New Castle. “I just really liked to eat and didn’t control my portions. I consumed too many calories.”

Losing weight wasn’t as easy as just counting calories for Brandt.She tried three different plans – Weight Watchers, the Atkins Diet, and Michael Thurmon’s Six Week Body Makeover. The Atkins Diet left her glass half-empty, while the Michael Thurmon plan left her glass half-full. It was portion control and exercise that helped her lose the pounds and maintain her weight.

“I was so heavy in the beginning, that it was hard to exercise. Once I hit 165, I started exercising,” she said. “I started with walking, got a treadmill, and I started walking on that for a total of 50 minutes. During the course of that, I got more and more fit.”At 135 pounds, Brandt has added weight training to her exercise plan.”I use dumbbells,” she said. “That helps with my metabolism, too.”Although Brandt has dropped nearly 90 pounds in the last four years, she’d like to see her weight at 120 and her physique more toned. On Jan. 1, she’s starting the Body-for-Life Challenge, a 12-week healthy living contest.”I still have lots of struggles, I still have issues with hormones and craving chocolate. I’ve still maintained the weight, but my big thing is I’m hoping at my age you can get muscle definition and look good,” she said. “I’d like to think that’s possible. My goal is to build a lot of muscle – I want to go the whole distance.”

Brandt is motivated to wake up extra early to exercise and maintain a healthy diet because of her family history.”I come from a background where everyone is really, really overweight, on both sides of the family. I want to break the cycle,” she said. “My mom, who’s in her 70s, has congestive heart failure, type II diabetes and emphysema. I really hope I can go into old age healthy and strong. I want to go all the way.”

Bob Zanella of Glenwood Springs also knows the reality of being overweight. He and his wife, Bev, owned the Buttercup Bakery in downtown Glenwood until 1982. During that time, he gained 30 pounds in one year.

For years, he carried that extra weight with him everywhere – to every golf tournament he played; to every event he attended as mayor of Glenwood; and into knee replacement surgery last March.”I was a baker for 20 years, and I basically carried that weight,” he said. “A year ago, at Christmas, I was starting to make up my mind.”At 286 pounds, Zanella decided to break the cycle before hitting the 300 mark.”I knew it was something I had to do,” said the 69-year-old retiree. “I decided it was time.”Zanella joined the Health Management Resources weight loss program at Valley View Hospital. The program provided weekly classes, individual coaching and a diet regimen to help him lose more than 75 pounds.”Like my daughter says, I lost (the weight equivalent of) a grandson and a half,” he said.As part of the program, Zanella adjusted his diet to include pre-made entrees, shakes, nutrition bars, and fruit and vegetables – along with 64 ounces of water a day.

“The whole time I was losing weight, I was never really hungry,” he said. “I was either drinking shakes, which I could add fruit to, or eating fruits and vegetables every three hours. And at least five days a week, I’d wake up and exercise.”Zanella estimates he lost between three and four pounds per week. He was elated to celebrate a special anniversary with his wife while feeling more fit.”By our 50th wedding anniversary in June, I had lost the 50 pounds I wanted to,” he said, with a smile.Today, Zanella weighs 208. And, like Brandt, he’s in maintenance mode, keeping the pounds from returning with diet and exercise.”I walk, exercise – now I’ll start shoveling snow,” he said.A recent trip to Las Vegas, where he was able to walk more, proved to be a breath of fresh air for Zanella.”The thing I’ve noticed is walking – I can do more walking,” he said. “Before (losing the weight), we were walking the Venetian’s courtyard and I had to stop and take breaks. I remember singers singing on the bridge and my back was killing me. When we were back in Vegas in April, I could walk the whole thing.”One tool Zanella also uses to stay on course – and stay away from junk food – is the grazing tray. The plastic container stores raw carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, pickles, and peppers, and is brought from the fridge to the table for every meal.”Now that I’m on maintenance, I can eat real food. But you have to stay away from the gap – fast food, french fries and stuff,” he said. “What you learn is you have to adjust your entire lifestyle.”

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