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Losing It: Texas Health Employee Shares Weight Loss Story

Monica Warford, decision support and finance manager at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, is a pro at crunching numbers. It is her job after all.

But five years ago, after wearing a size 24 dress to her brother's wedding, Warford decided to crunch a few numbers of her own — tackling a problem that had haunted her since her pre-teen years: her weight.

"At that point, I was very fed up with my size," she said. "I spoke with my aunt after the wedding and she suggested I try Weight Watchers. I didn't think it would work for me, but I was ready to try anything proven."

After becoming a member of Weight Watchers, Warford started tracking all of her meals — good and bad — with the online tracker. In the first three months, she dropped 20 pounds.

"It doesn't matter if it is broccoli or tiramisu, I always track my food," she said. "It is a great resource for me to look back at weeks where I lost weight and can see what I was eating. They have great ideas, and I find that it is a good place to be inspired, or maybe even inspire others with my own story, which is a great feeling."

Eventually, Warford was ready to add exercise to her weight loss regimen.

After visiting with her doctor, Warford was told that she was not cleared to run, only walk. In 2009, she registered for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day event and started training. After completing the 60-mile walk, she went back to her doctor. She had lost 77 pounds by that point, and felt like she could do more. With medical clearance, she quickly set her sights on a 5K.

After seven months of training, Warford ran her first 5K without stopping. By this time, she was hooked on running. Instead of watching television or going out to eat after a long day at work, she would meet friends to run or her running club.

"Exercise is very social to me," she said. "While I do enjoy solo runs on occasion, I find that I enjoy it more if I'm with friends, and it helps keep me accountable."

Running a 5K led to Warford to achieve a 10K, a half-marathon, and eventually a full marathon in 2011. She now proudly displays a hot pink "26.2" sticker on the back of her car to signify her accomplishment. However, even with all those miles logged, she fell back into old habits.

"Before I changed my lifestyle I would eat out daily, and the meals I made at home weren't much better," Warford said. "I cooked a lot of fried food and would mindlessly eat, especially in the car. I would stop on my way to work for a breakfast of tiramisu and macaroni and cheese, something I would never do now. After running my first marathon, I changed jobs, which increased my commute and stress levels. I found myself stopping at the drive-through again and indulging a little too much, until I realized I had gained back 40 pounds."

Warford changed jobs for the second time, this time joining the staff at Texas Health Plano. She kept her Weight Watchers membership and continued to attend two meetings a week. She also found renewed motivation through her Shape-Up Texas Health team members. She leads team "We Have Fun," which became so popular that it has spawned a second team, "We Have Fun, Too." Now, Warford uses her pedometer daily and tries to fit in 90 minutes of exercise every day, which usually means getting up early to attend boot camp at the Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center in Plano with a run afterwards.

Warford credits her husband, family, friends and co-workers for being a great support system to her during the last five years of this journey, which has led to getting her life back.

"I was recently running on the Muehlenbeck Center's indoor track early in the morning," she said. "It was dark outside and I could see myself in the reflection of the windows and I thought, ‘is that really me?' I truly feel like I am finally the person I have always wanted to be."

Warford has lost a total of 105 pounds since 2008.

She advises others looking to lose weight to remember that moderation is key, "I love ice cream, so giving it up forever isn't an option, but I know that if I have a carton of it in the freezer it is too tempting. So, when I need a treat I go out for a single scoop. I still go to my favorite restaurants, but ask the servers to bring me a to-go box with my meal, so I can split it in half before I start eating."

Most important of all, she says? "You can't get discouraged by the numbers on the scale. Set goals for yourself and make sure you achieve them. You gain a lot of perspective when you change your life."

For more tips on small, healthy changes you can make, visit TexasHealth.org/Well-Being.

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