Source: Sherman Publications

Oprah bound
Local couple to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show

by Susan Bromley

April 27, 2011

Ortonville- Jenny and Tom Roberts’ combined 220-pound weight loss gained them an invitation to the Oprah Winfrey Show.

The village residents drove to Chicago on Tuesday with plans to be in the studio at 6 a.m. Wednesday for the taping of a show that is expected to air within the next week or two on ABC.

“I’m excited, Oprah has been an inspiration and very honest about her own weight loss struggles,” said Jenny, who was interviewed over the phone on April 20 by a show representative who wanted to know how much weight she had lost and how she did it. “They wanted 100 people in this specific audience who had lost at least 100 pounds without surgery. It’s a look-back show, a reflection on health.”

When Jenny told the representative that she had lost 120 pounds and her husband Tom had recently lost 100 pounds, both were invited to be in the audience.

Jenny, 44, has had a life-long struggle with her weight. In May 2009, after a visit to the doctor, she knew a change was in order. She was tired just walking up and down stairs and going for a short walk winded her. In general, she was uncomfortable, and she wanted a program she could stick with for a lifetime. She joined Weight Watchers. “For me, going every week and the support of the group and a good leader has made a big difference and kept me on track,” said Jenny, a bookkeeper. “I don’t look at it like a diet, it had to be a lifestyle. I had to change many of my habits.”

She jumped right in with the changes— using portion control, adding more fruits and vegetables to her diet, and walking. She lost nine pounds her first week of the program. When she began, she was able to walk only about half a block, but increased her distance daily and now walks up to a couple miles per day. At first, she missed fast food, but she likes that Weight Watchers doesn’t forbid foods.

“You can have chocolate or anything you want, you just have to build it into your day and consider what you’ve eaten,” said Jenny, who also took up knitting as a hobby to keep her hands busy and mind off eating, especially in the winter while watching television.

Jenny started her weight loss journey alone, but says Tom, 48, was her number one fan and supporter, which made a big difference. In January 2010, he made the decision to join her in losing weight he’d been accumulating most of his adult life. One of the most important things he learned was to disassociate emotions from eating.

“First you have to acknowledge when you are eating not because you are hungry, but because you are worried or stressed or bored,” said Tom, an engineering designer. “You learn that’s what is really going on instead of hunger and then you are empowered to decide if you are going to eat and when you are going to eat.”

He also learned to let go of guilt, which he said is an emotion that can lead to a setback.

“You can eat sweets, but not a half-gallon of ice cream, just an ice cream treat,” he said. “And when you do find that you overate for one reason or another, don’t feel guilty, learn from that choice you made. It’s not a lifestyle, it’s a mistake.”

Tom and Jenny have learned to eat nutritiously and about the things that will keep them full longer, rather than quick carbohydrates like cookies or doughnuts. The couple has changed what they shop for at the grocery store, but don’t deny their 15-year-old daughter treats and allow themselves treats, too, just in moderation.

Tom recently reached his 100-pound weight loss with the help of running a mile every other day and walking with Jenny, who says her husband can’t lose any more weight. She has only 30 pounds more to reach her own goal weight.

Jenny still finds it hard to believe she has lost 120 pounds.

“I can barely pick up a 50-pound bag of dog food at the grocery store, and yet I was carrying twice that on my body,” she said. “I love being able to buy clothes anywhere instead of just special stores. It’s still hard emotionally to see a thinner version of yourself, but I want to keep feeling this way. I keep a before picture up on my closet door, so I can remind myself, I don’t want to do that again.”