Missy Cox, 5'5"
Mom to Nate, 6; Riley, 4; and Regan, 1
Starting weight: 174
Ending weight: 162
"With three kids and a 32-hour-a-week job, I'm always on the go. The two older kids play sports, which means we're running around in the evenings, getting them to practices and games. We eat a lot of fast food, whether it's hot dogs at the ballpark or McDonald's on the way. At work, my desk drawer usually has M&M's, pretzels, or chips. I drink a lot of soda -- I might have a 32-ounce fountain soda every day, plus a can of diet soda."
The nutritionist weighs in. "The constant grazing doesn't leave Missy with an appetite for real food. Those big fountain sodas have to go -- that's 400 empty calories right there. She'd be much better off drinking water. Missy needs to spend more time planning meals so she's less reliant on fast food. I suggested fewer dishes with white flour, fewer mayonnaise-based dishes, more vegetables at dinner, and more fruit."
How it went. "Some switches were easy. We started eating whole wheat pasta instead of white. Green beans, broccoli, and salad (lots of it) with balsamic dressing instead of creamy have become a regular part of our dinner. When we have burgers, I skip the bun. I stopped eating bagels once I learned that just one was equal to five slices of bread. I used to have ice cream every night. First I switched to a low-fat version, then I gave it up. I'm drinking a lot less soda (and only diet) and a lot more water, which fills me up. I'm also eating smaller portions. We're eating more meals at home now -- if one kid has a game, I'll stay behind with the other two and prepare a real dinner, then meet my husband to watch the game a little later. The hardest thing for me has been getting my whole family on board. My husband does most of the shopping, and he likes to buy chips and cookies. When I complained, he would say, 'It's for the kids.' My response was 'No one needs this.' It took about a month for my husband to come around, but now there's a lot less junk in the house. I didn't think I could live without M&M's, but here I am -- alive and well! Now I nibble on Cheerios. My big takeaway is that the kids will eat whatever is there. If there are grapes for snacks, they're gone before you know it."
The exercise routine. "The hardest part for Missy was getting started," says O'Neil. "It was hit-and-miss for a while, but what finally worked for her was finding an exercise buddy."
How it went. "Every morning at 5 my neighbor and I take our dogs and go for a three-mile power walk. If I don't get that walk, my whole day is thrown off. Since I've started the routine, I've done three 5K race walks. Every October I used to buy pink M&M's for breast-cancer awareness. This year I skipped the candy -- I did Race for the Cure instead!"