Person of Interest: Donna Grant-Paige March/April 2017

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Occupation: Adjunct Faculty, Central Virginia Community College

A little more than two years ago, you were 125 pounds heavier. What was happening in your life that pushed you to make a change and stick with it?
I looked in the mirror (and photos) and didn’t like what I saw. I was 45, had two small children, and I was so uncomfortable in my body that I didn’t want to go out in public, couldn’t get out and play with my kids, or even find clothes. (I am a diva at heart.) My blood pressure was high, and I ran the risk of developing diabetes.

And your job at the time was making you feel even more guilty—right?
Absolutely! Here I was teaching my students nutrition and wellness, but I was morbidly obese. I was the teacher that the kids always came to talk to about their problems, and yet I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching. I taught them about healthy relationships, etc.—how could I expect them to listen to me talk about being healthy if I was so overweight?

You chose the Atkins diet to help you shed the weight. Why?
I always joke that I am a fat kid at heart. I love to cook, and I love to eat! Atkins allowed me to continue these passions and lose lots of weight. It was easy for me to remove things from my diet (especially after seeing the results and how I felt). Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t eat, I began to eat healthier—vegetables, real food, healthy snacks.

Describe what life is like for you now.
I am a new person—not just physically, but mentally. I challenge myself to try new things (i.e. running a 5k). Because of my Atkins low-carb lifestyle, I take half the amount of blood pressure medicine, I haven’t had a bout of cystic acne in two years, I have energy,
I can play with my kids, I have confidence, and I can shop in any store! There are no words to describe how life is so much better without all that extra weight.

And you’ve noticed your behavior is rubbing off on your family too.
I have lowered their sugar intake and incorporated more clean foods into their diet. But the greatest thing was how this affected my daughter. She, like most people, thought there was no way she could live without carbs. She was an athlete in high school and had gained weight in college. Eventually she tried it, loved how she physically felt and starting losing weight. A little later she had some health issues and found that eliminating sugar in her diet would help prevent complications.

What’s next for you? Do you have any more personal health goals?
My trainer wants me to compete in a Spartan Race, but I would be happy with another 5k or 10k race! I would like to lose another 20 to 25 pounds, but ultimately I would like to share my story with those who have struggled like myself—let them know it is possible and it’s worth the effort because you will feel better physically and mentally!

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