EDMOND — A.J. Legere, a nutrition supervisor for Edmond Public Schools, took charge of her own food intake last year. The result was a weight loss of 115 pounds that has dramatically changed and empowered her.
Legere, 53, had been locked in a nearly 30-year struggle with her weight. When she was 23, her eating habits changed. Food was her comfort.
“I don't blame anything or anybody for it,” she said. “I was the one putting food in my mouth.”
Standing 5-foot-5, she swelled to well more than 200 pounds and stayed there most of her adult life.
“It was too much eating and not enough moving around,” she said.
The extra pounds took a toll. There were health ramifications and none of them good. There were Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. She laments the lack of energy — and some of the missed opportunities, particularly activities with her three children.
“I didn't attend some of my children's events because of my size,” she said. “Although, I know I can't do anything about the past now.”
There were other challenges, as well.
“I'd look at a chair and wonder if it was sturdy enough to handle my size without breaking,” she said.
It wasn't until last year when the “lightbulb went on,” she said, and she realized something needed to be done.
“I had been turned down for long-term care insurance,” she said. “I also realized I needed to set a better example.”
Realizing there was no magic formula for weight loss, Legere said, she attacked the problem in the summer of 2011 with a three-prong offensive. First there was prayer. Second there was exercise. That included signing up for a gym membership and walking three to four miles a day. Finally, she joined Weight Watchers for the support, as well as the group meetings and weigh-ins.
“Some people can do it alone. I can't,” she said.
The weight began to fall off. This past spring, Legere reached her goal of dropping 115 pounds.
She got rid of most of her plus-size clothing — with the exception of a pair of what she calls her “fat jeans.”
As a thin person she feels more confidence and lives more fully with a greater self-esteem, she said. There are the little things as well.
“Our season theater tickets are almost all the way up the Civic Center,” she said. “I used to take the elevator as far as I could. Now I just take the steps with my husband ... there's no stopping at all along the way.”
In addition, she doesn't dread getting on an airplane.
“I can make eye contact with people and not be concerned that they don't want me sitting with them because of my size,” she said.
There are other positive developments.
She's off medicine for diabetes and has had her cholesterol level cut in half. She is on the minimum medication for blood pressure and plans to apply again next year for long-term insurance.
‘Can't go back'
She has advice for people trying to shed the excess pounds.
“Set goals that have nothing to do with the scale, such as taking more steps,” she said. “The little goals will keep you on track.”
As nutritionist with the school district, she said she is committed to seeing that schools offer fresh fruits and vegetables. She stresses moderation and urges parents to play a key role in the dietary health and eating habits of their children.
Eating habits are key.
“It seems with this generation we are almost constantly grazing,” she said.
That's not her lifestyle anymore, but she knows it will take an ongoing effort to make sure the 115 pounds never come back.
To this day, she wakes up and prays — asking God to keep her active and healthy.
“I can't go back,” she said.