Healthy Impressions

A lifelong commitment'
Written by Chris Gerbasi

Single mom’s devotion to children prompts dramatic lifestyle change.

After Pam Fletcher adopted a boy and a girl, she developed bad eating habits. As a single parent tending to her kids’ needs first, she took care of herself last, often filling up on 2,000 calories while eating in bed at night.

She ballooned to 265 pounds and was diagnosed as pre-hypertensive after experiencing chest pains and severe headaches. Pam’s father is diabetic and her mother died of breast cancer, and she knew excessive weight is a factor in those diseases.

The final red flag came from her son’s soccer league, which needed parents to serve as referees and Pam knew she couldn’t run up and down the field. But she had made a promise to the adoption agency to raise the two children, and she wanted to keep that promise.

“I knew I needed to make a change,” says Pam, an assistant director of human resources at Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg. “So that was the driving point—wanting to be around and be able to take care of these children through adulthood.”

Over the next 18 months, Pam made a progressive lifestyle change in eating and exercise and dropped 143 pounds. She eventually settled at her “happy weight” of 135 pounds, and has been able to maintain the weight loss for 14 years.

“I would say I’m a type A personality,” Pam says. “I’m pretty disciplined, so once I set my mind to doing something, I pretty much stick to it.”

Pam’s strategy started with eating better, climbing stairs instead of using elevators, and working out with exercise videos. She got co-workers involved in lunchtime walks and gradually moved to jogging and more strenuous workouts, such as HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, and Zumba Strong, a more intense version of Zumba. When Pam suffered fallen arches, she transitioned to floor and resistance exercises and riding a stationary bike.

She kept a log of everything she ate and cut her calorie intake from about 3,000 a day to between 900 and 1,100 a day. She eats meat—usually chicken or fish—only once or twice a month, but primarily enjoys vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Her children, Joshua, 23, and Jordyn, 20, don’t quite follow her culinary example, but they know Mom’s going to be around awhile.

“When you decide you want to lose weight, find a program or plan that is something you’re going to be able to live with for the rest of your life, because for me, it’s been a lifestyle change,” Pam says.

About the author'

Chris Gerbasi

Chris Gerbasi has been a journalist for more than 30 years, writing and copy editing for newspapers and magazines throughout Michigan and Florida, and covering everything from city hall to spring training.

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