As her youngest child was turning 16 years old, Anita Peters was tired, confused about what to eat and 100 pounds overweight. Each of her three pregnancies had left her with extra weight and she was worried she would never be able to lose it. She tried every diet she could find from Weight Watchers to Atkins to Medifast; nothing worked. In fact going from diet to diet began a vicious cycle of losing a few pounds and then gaining them back just a short while later.
No matter what diet she tried, Anita could not produce long-lasting results. She even tried several weight loss programs at a local hospital, but could not manage to keep the weight off. Desperate to look and feel better, she decided to proceed with weight loss surgery—what she refers to as a “last ditch effort”—and in March of 2008, had a Lap-Band procedure done.
Initially, Anita felt great as the weight finally began to come off. Due to her diligence in following all of the many strict “rules” assigned after the surgery, the team at the hospital deemed Anita their “poster child” as they watched her lose 110 pounds in only 9 months. She drank the soy protein shakes she was supposed to and avoided refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. She began running and even completed a few half marathons and several 5ks.
Things were finally beginning to look up for Anita. She liked the way she looked and felt. She had learned how to eat following the specific Lap-Band guidelines she was given and she did it well. However 4 years after the procedure, she noticed her body beginning to change, slowly but surely. By then she had moved from Michigan to Madison and was continuing her postoperative care as directed. While she was still following the specific food restrictions she had been given, she noticed her weight was beginning to creep up. Her care team would give her additional restrictions and yet no matter what she did, she found that she had gained over 20 pounds.
Puzzled by her lack of progress, Anita’s care team ran several tests, including an endoscopy. Unfortunately, the test revealed that the band had eroded into her stomach lining and was no longer working as it should. To her dismay, Anita had no choice but to have the band surgically removed in 2013.
Being forced to have the band taken out sent Anita into a tailspin. It was almost as if she was mourning the loss of what had once been so successful. She struggled to lose weight for so many years and now the very thing that had finally brought success was being taken away, due to no fault of her own. She was not only fearful of gaining back the weight she had lost, but of the thought of what kind of damage the erosion had done to her stomach lining.
By the time the band was removed, Anita had gained 40 pounds. In an effort to avoid gaining any additional weight, Anita began the Nutrisystem diet as soon as she was allowed to have solid foods again. She lost 5 pounds on the program but didn’t feel well and was “starving all of the time.”
Anita had gotten to the point of not having the faintest idea of what or how to eat anymore. The restrictions she was given after the banding procedure required her to drink soy protein shakes and in general, a lot of liquids, high amounts of protein and very little carbohydrates. In addition, she had been diagnosed with thyroid problems in her 20s, and it had always been fairly well controlled…until she began the Nutrisystem diet. The combination of one too many soy protein shakes and a whole lot of processed food had taken a toll and left her overweight again, tired and constantly hungry.
She started looking for local exercise programs in May of 2013 and came upon one of Dustin Maher’s bootcamp classes. On the very first day she went, Dustin happened to be teaching and Anita told him her story. He immediately suggested she meet with Tracie so she could basically relearn how to eat again.
Anita describes working with Tracie and Dustin as the absolute best things she has ever done for herself. She began Dustin’s Killer Kurves class and signed up for 8 individual sessions with Tracie, which included her DVD Home Study Course. After several weeks, she dropped 10 pounds and 11 ½ inches. While the weight didn’t come off immediately, it is coming off, and it’s coming off the right way this time.
“In many ways, I feel like Tracie literally saved my life,” Anita says. “I know that sounds kind of funny, but I really feel like it’s true.” After so many years of dysfunctional eating, Anita says she was basically at a loss in terms of what she should actually be eating. She had never really considered what kinds of food she was eating prior to working with Tracie. None of the staff at the hospital had ever told her about the connection between soy and thyroid problems nor did they instruct her to read labels or about the importance of avoiding processed foods.
After working with Tracie, Anita says she’s never felt so good. She finally has her energy back, her cravings are gone and she’s enjoying cooking real food. While she is feeling great, there certainly have been challenges along the way. Tracie explained to Anita that because her body was under so much stress for such a long time, her metabolism needs to heal before the weight really begins to come off. She understands that she didn’t gain the weight overnight so losing it the right way will take some time, though she admits being patient isn’t always easy.
She’s also had to deal with the fact that people are always asking her about her story. Anita says she was very open to sharing with people how she lost her weight and was not embarrassed that she had the banding procedure done, but it did make her very “visible” to people. She’s grateful that so many people noticed when she initially lost the weight, but when she gained some of it back, people seemed to think they had a right to discuss it with her and that was difficult. “I knew I didn’t cause it to fail because I did everything just as I was supposed to,” Anita states, “but having to tell the story over and over again left me feeling like a failure at times. I had to battle the disappointment, money and effort I spent trying to make it work, and that was hard.”
On the other hand, she feels like she is finally eating sustainably and in a way that she can for the rest of her life. Anita travels with her husband quite a bit but has found that maintaining her workout routine and healthy way of eating can be done even if she’s away from home for extended periods of time. She uses hotel fitness centers whenever she can or her own body weight as resistance in her room. She also prepares snacks ahead of time for on the road and looks for restaurants serving local foods before she leaves. Anita recently went to Palm Springs and went down to the farmers market for fresh fruit and veggies to keep in her hotel room. “In the past, traveling as much as I do now would have caused me to gain 5 pounds. But this time, I can follow it anywhere now that I know how to prepare in advance. In fact, I even lost a pound on the last trip I took!”
Anita says she finally gets how to eat real food the right way and attributes her success to working with Tracie and Dustin. She also emphasizes the importance of both exercise and eating right, stating she knows of many people who don’t succeed because they try to just work out without changing how they’re eating. She also loves how easy Tracie makes eating well: “Following Tracie’s 2 balance rules of not eating protein and carbohydrates alone made such a huge difference and so much sense to me. I also follow her Great-Grandmother Rule whenever I possibly can. If I can’t pronounce, it I simply don’t eat it!”
Anita understands that not everyone can afford individual sessions, but says the next best option is Tracie’s DVD Home Study Course. She loves being able to have all of Tracie’s information on DVD so she can watch it whenever she wants to. Anita says, “Tracie’s plan really does work and it’s so much easier than anything else I’ve ever tried.” She also adds, “Her Home Study Course is awesome and is invaluable in learning how to eat the right way.” In fact, Tracie even suggested Anita go an entire month without weighing herself so that she learned how to listen to her body without constantly watching the scale. She also taught her that she could lose weight even while eating real food…without the burden of having to constantly count calories or “freak out” about how much she was eating.
While Anita still has weight loss goals, she understands there’s a balance between working out, eating well and doing it the right way. She has short-term, intermediate and long-term goals, but knows it will happen as it’s supposed to and as a by-product of continuing to work out and paying attention to what she’s eating. Her advice to others who are struggling with weight loss is to understand that everything you put into your mouth affects your body, in either the right or the wrong way. She suggests to “first get the junk out of your diet and then focus on movement if you want to get lasting results.”
Anita says: “I don’t regret having the Lap-Band procedure done. It served its purpose at the time in its own way. I also don’t regret how everything happened. Without gaining the weight back, I never would have searched for Dustin nor would I have come across Tracie. But I will say that I much prefer eating Tracie’s way because it’s something I can do forever. As a first-time grandmother of sweet 8-week old baby Gloria, I want to be healthy and strong to be able to keep up with her and other future grandchildren and great-grandchildren! I know I keep saying this, but Tracie really did save my life and working with her really is the best thing I’ve ever done!”