Marge Lyse of Naperville has lost more than 200 pounds and has shared her story with millions. Here she sits on the set of The Today Show. | Submitted by Marge Lyse
Updated: February 12, 2012 8:04AM
I know only too well the challenges with losing a lot of weight. However, losing 50 pounds seems rather insignificant after my recent interview with Marge Lyse of Naperville.
At one time, Lyse weighed 387 pounds. Today, she has lost more than 200 pounds, and is sharing her story with millions via “The Today Show,” “Johnny B Show,” “ABC Morning News,” “People Magazine,” and on Jan. 15, she’ll appear on “Windy City Live” on ABC 7.
How did she do it? The old-fashioned way, exercise and eating healthy.
Lyse, 52, is an active, healthy mother of three grown children, grandmother to Ren, and wife to Glen. As a billing assistant at Midtown Athletic Club in Willowbrook, her life isn’t necessarily extraordinary, but her weight loss journey is.
“In 2001, I reached my all-time high weight — a weight I never thought I’d see,” she said. “My moment of change happened when I was at an anniversary party and had on a black blazer and a white top underneath.
“I was dancing up a storm — of course, sweating as if I was in a storm — and suddenly got very ill.”
Because she was embarrassed of her weight, she didn’t take off her blazer.
“I ended up suffering from heat exhaustion,” she said. “The next morning, I said enough. I was not going to have people see me like that again.”
Not sure where to begin, Lyse bought a case of Slim-Fast and joined a gym. During that time, Slim-Fast was very popular, so she drank the shakes for breakfast and lunch, then made a healthy dinner.
“I used the Slim-Fast for just a short time and used common sense for the rest of my journey,” Lyse said. “Even going to the doctor was embarrassing. I didn’t want to hear how much healthier I’d be if I lost weight, I knew that. I was heavy — not stupid!”
Aside from figuring out the food part of her journey, the next big step for Lyse was finding a gym. The equipment as well as the “regulars” intimated Marge, but she knew what she had to do. She decided to start on a treadmill, and putting one foot in front of the other, she never looked back.
“There were people who said I couldn’t do this because I was in my 40s. They felt it was too late for what I was trying to accomplish,” Lyse said. “That just made me want it more, to prove to them that age doesn’t mean anything if you set your mind to it. Some habits are hard to break, but I swore to myself I would not go back to my bad habits ever again.”
For many people, sustainable motivation is the toughest part of weight loss — I know it was for me. But Lyse continued to focus on what would happen if she lost motivation and ended up where she started — at 387 pounds — that was out of the question.
Eleven years later, Lyse has kept the weight off.
If you look at the statistics about weight loss, she is an anomaly. But she has figured out what she needs to do to stay on task and devoted to her health, so she can focus on the things that really matter: her family and pursuing her certification as a fitness trainer.
“I’m at a point where I can’t go through the day without some form of activity,” Lyse said. “I started doing Zumba, and I love it. It gets my cardio up and my heart pounding. And most of all, it’s fun!”
For someone who has managed to make sustainable changes, Lyse has some solid tips to pass along.
“Don’t ever break that promise to yourself, to get healthy,” she said. “We make so many promises to everyone in our lives, but the most important one is to ourselves.”
She also says to remember that losing and keeping weight off is a lifestyle change, not a quick fix.
“Remember that your weight loss doesn’t stop with a magic number on a scale; it’s a daily challenge to keep your new lifestyle alive,” she said. “You see, it’s not will power that gets us through, it’s more like ‘want power.’”
She says her success has come from a “complete lifestyle change,” which “includes good health and activity.”
“I think it’s important for people to know that even though stress is a major part of our lives, we’re in charge of what we put in our mouths — we can control that,” she said. “Once we understand that a weight challenge is as much a mental issue as a physical one, we can better understand how to take that first step to better health. Everything starts with baby steps.”
To read more about Lyse’s story, pick up a copy of the January edition of “People” magazine.
Do you have an inspiring story about your journey to fitness? Share it with columnist Nicki Anderson at email@example.com.