Doreen Fox, 57, has tried it all. WW. Local “Biggest Loser” programs. Weight-loss surgery in 2012. She would lose weight, but struggle to keep it off. “I’ve been successful, but then I’d start eating the wrong foods again. I would lose weight and gain it again,” she said.
“Last Thanksgiving, I got serious,” she said. She changed her diet and gradually added in a walking routine, with the help of the Start TODAY Facebook group. “I’m doing this for me. This is really the first time it’s for me,” she said. This time, she’s seeing steady, sustainable results. She’s lost 55 pounds so far and would like to drop another 50. But the changes in her health and in her life have been even more meaningful:
She can play with her 7-year-old grandson. The last time Fox visited her grandson, he said, “Gram, I like when you come over here because you play with me.” She used to spend time with him, but she couldn’t be as active as he would like. “I would have to tell him, ‘Grandma can’t bend over,’ or, ‘Grandma can’t do that.’ Now I can play with him. It really struck me that he noticed,” she said.
She’s improved her joint health. She had knee replacement surgery three years ago, and that knee is doing well. She was on track to have her second knee replaced, but thanks to her walking and weight loss, she no longer needs it. “Not having another knee surgery is amazing,” she said.
She can climb stairs with ease. Fox and her husband moved to a new home last October, partly because she struggled to carry groceries up the stairs in her old, two-story home. She loves her new ranch-style home, but she’s confident she could manage those stairs in the old house now.
She’s getting off blood pressure medication. She had been taking three blood pressure medications, but she’s down to one, and she may be able to stop that one soon.
She’s sleeping better. “I used to wake up at two or three in the morning — I couldn’t sleep,” she said. Now, she’s getting the rest she needs every night.
She has more energy. “I feel so alive. It’s amazing,” she said.
Here’s what’s worked for her to finally make lasting changes.
She follows an eating program to keep track of her diet
Fox uses a version of the Optavia diet where you eat six small meals per day — five that you buy through the program, plus a “lean and green” meal you make on your own for the sixth. The plan helps her control portion sizes. The provided meals include foods like protein bars, shakes, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, chili and cookies. She’ll make something like fresh tuna with asparagus and a green salad for dinner. She also drinks lots of water. “I can go to the grocery store, and I don’t buy the candies and cookies and crackers like I used to,” she said.
Fox has been married to her husband Keith for two years and, thanks to her changes, he has lost 20 pounds. “He’s right there with me. We eat healthy. We don’t have junk in the house,” she said.
She walks — a lot
Fox was watching the TODAY Show at the beginning of June 2021 when she saw a segment on the 20-minute daily walking challenge that was featured in the Start TODAY group. She jumped at the opportunity. “I’m competitive. If you show me a challenge, I’ll take it,” she said.
But ramping up was difficult for her. She was getting about 4,000 steps per day when she started, mostly walking around the house. She said, “I went from 20 minutes to 40 to, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve been walking for over an hour.’” Now, she aims for at least 10,000 steps a day and sometimes she includes speed walking.
There’s a park a block from her home in Auburn, New York where she loves to walk with her husband and their three dogs. She’ll walk first thing in the morning before it gets hot or in the evening since it stays light so late. To increase her distance and get her steps in, she extends her route or walks her dogs separately.
She’s added strength training to her workouts
Fox is at Planet Fitness three to five times a week, working her arms, shoulders, back and abdomen. “I’m trying to firm up and tone up,” she said. “I used to have to force myself to go to the gym, but now I enjoy it.”
The gym also gives her a plan B for her walks. On hot or rainy days when she can’t walk outside, she’ll get her steps in at the gym. She likes to watch a movie there, and she’ll walk for 1.5 hours on the treadmill.
She finds ways to motivate herself
Fox wants to stay healthy and energetic for the people in her life. “I have a wonderful man I want to stay with. I have two adult children. I have a beautiful grandson,” she said.
She weighs herself every Thursday and marks off every pound she loses on a chart on her refrigerator. “I cut out pictures of bathing suits and I have the word ‘healthier’ on the side of the refrigerator,” she said. “We’re going on a family cruise this Christmas, so I definitely want to get in shape for that.”
Here’s the advice she shares
If you’re new to a walking program, Fox recommends starting out slowly. “You’ll see people posting [in the Start TODAY group] that they got in 10,000 steps or walked for an hour and a half. Start with just 20 minutes, then maybe 22. Take your time. Just keep walking, one foot at a time. Change happens,” she said.