Weight Watcher

Featured Article, Weight Loss
on June 17, 2011
Dana and running buddies Kristen Swinhart (left) and Holly Pitz at a 2011 Memorial Day 5K


TV provided the final push Dana Binkley, of Akron, Ohio, needed to lose 40+ pounds — but it wasn’t the skinny actresses parading across her screen that inspired her.

“I started watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ for the first time last January. What I saw was a group of people who were much more overweight than I was, doing things that I couldn’t do,” Dana says. “That was the motivation I needed.”

Then 53, Dana was most impressed to see contestants far heavier than her running, so she set out to gradually increase her activity. After dusting off an old exercise bike and getting used to regular workouts, she bought a used treadmill from friends and started alternating walking and running.

“I had to start slow, since I’ve basically avoided having to run most of my life!” she says.

But once the weather turned warm and she took her workouts outside, Dana began to really enjoy them. She quickly set a goal: to train for and compete in a 5K run the following August. Crossing the finish line was such a joyful feeling that she completed another in October.

“I came in third place in my age group in both of them,” she says. “I tell people that when you are my age you can usually win something because there isn't that much competition!”

Dana’s new lifestyle didn’t include any drastic changes to her diet except one: For nearly a year, she logged every calorie she consumed at caloriecount.about.com, a free online resource she highly recommends for its comprehensiveness and ease of use. “I can’t say that I have had to give up much food. It’s just that I don’t eat a bunch of everything I see,” she says. “I used to split a large pizza with my husband, but now I just have 1-2 pieces and I’m satisfied.”

The online tracker is just one of the ways the admitted “Internet junkie” used the web in her weight loss journey. She also logged on frequently to find a steady stream of support.

“When I first made the decision to lose weight I put it out there on Facebook. I put it all out there—my age, my weight, what I want to weigh and what I was doing to lose it,” she says. “I wanted others to hold me accountable and found that others were struggling with the same issues.”

Do you have a weightloss story to share? Tell us about it.

She also made friends on the forums at caloriecount.about.com—one of whom suggested she take up yoga to tone up her new body. (And if you’ve ever visited Spry’s Facebook page, you may recognize her as one of the readers who frequently shares healthy living tips.) “I’ve made some good friends, and I have learned much from them,” she says. “Hopefully others have learned from me.”

A year-and-a-half since she started making changes, Dana is down 43 pounds and several dress sizes. “I think that I look better than I have ever looked in my life. It’s a real confidence booster,” she says. “And I have more energy than I ever imagined.”

But by no means does she consider the hard work over. For Dana, physical activity is now an integral part of her lifestyle. She runs 1-3 miles a day, does yoga regularly, and plans to compete in multiple 5K runs this summer.

“I get up early in the morning and treat my workouts like a job. A job is something that you have to do,” she says. “You get up, you get ready, and you go … it's as simple as that. And the way you feel is very rewarding!

Do you have a weightloss story to share? Tell us about it.

Dana in 2008 at almost 200 pounds, and today nearly 50 pounds lighter.