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When Death Came Knocking


Debra Rilea, Debra Rilea weight loss, Re_body Total Transformation System, health, weight loss, fitness, weight gain, death, nutrition

Photo credit: Debra Rilea

When the fear of death is the motivator, you just can’t lose…or can you?

Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Debra Rilea has battled weight most of her life. At times suffering from bulimia and anorexia. The weight and the yo-yo took a heavy toll. After a while, depression set up housekeeping, depriving her of motivation to do more, be more, and live more. When a serious health issue cropped up landing her critically ill husband in the hospital , Debra realized she was next if she didn’t do something.

Having lost nearly 100 pounds once before, 50 year old Debra knew she could do it again . Now, more than ever, she finally had the real life motivator she needed to make her weight loss stick. With a only 5 pounds to go before she reaches her goal, Debra took the time to answer a few questions about her journey.

What was the tipping point that made you decide to do something about your weight and your health?

In 2005 several friends were having success with the South Beach Diet. I had given up trying to lose weight for many, many years and thought it just wasn’t possible.My friends were very encouraging though so I gave it a try. And it worked well for me and my husband. Then my husband had an accident and was critically ill. I then had the additional stress of running two businesses - that included negotiating a new lease and moving one of the businesses all on my own. The hours were excruciating long, the stress and worries grew and I gave up trying to maintain our healthy eating habits.

The results of that was weight gain. Slowly but steadily all the pounds I’d lost before, returned. Disappointment is a word that doesn’t begin to touch on the emotions I felt. Losing the weight again seemed an impossible feat to achieve. I just wasn’t motivated to try. Even after my husband made a full recovery neither of us could reach that place of motivation. Interestingly that motivation came with another health crisis.

In 2010 as I sat by my critical ill husband in the hospital, I vowed that the day I got him home I would start my diet and exercise again. While there were hereditary links to the diseases he was experiencing, they also had a very distinct link to lifestyle choices. And we had made some very bad choices for a very long time. It was a wake-up call to me. I could easily be in his place if I didn’t change my ways. Death is a power motivator for change

What was your starting weight?

Which time? I’ve done this twice now. This is the last time. This is the forever time.

  • In 2005, my starting weight was 245
  • In 2010, my starting weight was 225
Debra Rilea weight loss, Debra Rilea massage therapy, Debra Rilea health, health, fitness, Ralston Massage Therapy
What is your current weight?
  • In, 2005 my ending weight was 160
  • Today, my current weight is 155

What is your goal weight?

My goal weight is 150.

Are you doing a specific program? Which? or why not?

I stick to the maintenance phase of the South Beach Diet fairly well. Having learned a great deal about my body and food over the last 21 months has been very helpful. I can stray and get right back on a healthy eating plan without fear of permanent weight gain. Regular exercise is key to my weight loss and maintenance. I do cardio and light weight lifting 3 to 5 times a week.

In spite of being very dedicated to my diet and exercise routine I experienced a 5-month plateau. It was maddening! A friend suggested the H.C.G. Diet. It seemed radical but she was very persuasive and supportive. It was the hardest diet I have ever done but I did drop 22 pounds and get within 5 pounds of my goal weight. And it only lasted 40 days. I am very happy I did it.

One of the criticisms I’ve heard about the H.C.G. diet was the eventual return of the weight lost. I haven’t had that happen. I think one of the reasons I am able to keep those additional pounds off is because I had a good established diet and exercise plan to return to afterwards.

What have you tried in the past?

In the ’80′s I tried Weight Watchers. The weigh-ins were humiliating to me. Additionally, the loss of a pound or two a week was not motivating. I didn’t last very long. In that same decade, I did a medically supervised diet with a very low calorie intake and vitamin injections. I wasn’t successful on that diet either. I tried a cookie meal replacement diet, the SlimFast diet and several other fad diets. So many I don’t even remember them all.

By the ’90′s I quit all dieting, I just felt too hopeless.

Are you  feeling healthier now? Other than the way you look, what are some of the changes you’ve experienced in losing the weight?

Yes. My blood pressure is in a health range all the time now. Previously my doctor was ready to put me on medication. My joints no longer hurt and I can walk without getting winded. Since I do massage professionally it is easier to do my work.

What have you done to change the way you eat?

Everything! Fast food is a thing of the past. As well as pizza, sodas, chips, cookies, cakes and the like. Now we shop for and prepare all our meals. I say “we” because my husband is back on the diet with me and it is great to have a partner in health. A big diet buster is lunch out and snacking so I make sure I pack lunch and snacks every day for work. I will plan my errands on my days off around meals so I am not tempted to eat fast food or junk just because I’m hungry. But, if I have to, I know what I can eat out without jeopardizing my success.

What physical activities are you doing to help lose weight?

At first I worked out at home with a series of DVDs by Gunnar Peterson. Then, I added some walking DVDs from Leslie Sansone.

Last summer I joined a new gym in our neighborhood, Planet Fitness. My goal is to exercise 3 to 5 times a week. I do cardio which is either the treadmill, ARC trainer, elliptical or bike on each visit. I lift weights rotating between muscle groups. Planet Fitness has a trainer who helped me learn how to use their equipment and design a work-out plan. That was helpful.

I think it doesn’t really matter what I do as long as I do something consistently; which for me means exercise 3 to 5 times a week for 60 to 75 minutes each session.

Are there any other lifestyle changes you have made?

I can’t think of anything that I haven’t changed. Maybe I would add that I don’t bring food into the house that isn’t on my diet. I avoid placing myself in situation where temptations are just too great. I only have so much willpower to resist. Although I do find it easier and easier to stay away from sweets and other temptations. Now that I am almost to my goal weight I find that an occasional planned sweet does not derail me from my goals. This is new and I am thrilled to feel like I have reached a normal way of eating.

Debra Rilea weight loss, Debra Rilea massage therapy, Debra Rilea health, health, fitness, Ralston Massage Therapy

Photo credit: Debra Rilea

Do you have support from friends and family?

Amazingly so. It has been a key to my success.

Is there someone in your life that is a saboteur to you reaching your goal?

Only myself. I was anorexic and bulimic for over 6 years and when I dieted I would panic. There was a real fear that I would slip back into anorexia. I know it may sound illogical, but I feel like my being overweight was just the opposite side of being anorexic. Both were extreme eating disorders. Now I have a much better relationship with myself, food, dieting and exercise but it has literally taken thirty plus years to get here. Even still I can talk myself out of staying on the diet or skipping the gym. It takes a long-term goal in front of me to stay focused.

What has been your weakness along the way?

Sweets are my weakness. I now plan them in as a reward system. I’ve reached the place where that works. It wouldn’t have worked early on, so part of this process is about learning what works now and adapting my approach. In the past rigid adherence to things that didn’t work for me would ultimately sabotage my success.

 Do you have any words of advice for other women that are trying to lose weight and get healthy?

It may sound trite, but you can do it. I say that, not because I have done it – twice, but because I have learned that it is all about finding what works for you and sticking to it. Also, when I refocused on weight loss for health reasons that was a real turning point. Ask yourself what are the health goals you want to achieve? Then go for it!

Do you have a favorite motivating quote?

While it isn’t really a quote I saw a cartoon that said it all to me. A doctor is speaking with his patient and he asks, “What fits your busy schedule, exercising an hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day?”

It was just that real for me sitting by my husband in the hospital. Change or die.

Who inspires you and why?

It’s not a who but a what, Death was a powerful motivator. Having high blood pressure, aching joints, unable to walk up a flight of stairs without losing my breath at the age of 50 meant that if I didn’t change now,  it was just going to be a steady and predictable decline to even poorer health, disease and misery.

Do you have a Blog where people can learn more about your weight loss journey?

Yes, I do. It’s called Debra Rilea, Just Blogging Around. I haven’t had it for long, but I would love it if anyone wanted to stop by and check it out. Follow it even!

Original story: Re-Body Total Transformation System

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