Karen McGraw

Karen McGraw pared 14 pounds off of her five-foot-one frame by eliminating nighttime noshing and ramping up her workout routine

While most people get weighed at their doctor’s office, Karen McGraw stepped on the scale in her vet’s clinic last December while her dog had a check-up. “I have a scale at home but I didn’t think it was accurate,” says the 48-year-old mom of two from Oromocto, N.B. “I knew the vet’s scale would be right.” McGraw didn’t like the number she saw and resolved then and there to lose 20 pounds. She’s since pared 14 pounds off of her five-foot-one frame by eliminating nighttime noshing and ramping up her workout routine.

“I started by getting rid of all of the junk food in the house,” says McGraw, who admits to a fondness for baked goods, heavenly hash ice cream and chocolate. “I would just as soon have dessert as have a meal.” She now satisfies her sweet tooth with the occasional healthy homemade bran muffin or nut loaf.

McGraw also cleaned up her daytime dining habits. “I follow Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating , because it’s so easy and I wanted to make my own food choices,” she says. The Guide stresses lots of fruits, veggies and grain products, and gives serving-size guidelines. Though she’s not much of a carnivore, McGraw now eats meat several times a week and has also added eggs to her diet for additional protein power. And she’s not afraid of carbs. “I still want some in my diet,” says McGraw, who finds that sensible servings of whole grains help her stave off cravings for sweets.

Though McGraw had walked about 40 minutes a day for the past five years, the low intensity level of her outdoor walks didn’t keep the extra pounds at bay. “I wasn’t pushing myself,” she says. She now runs 20 minutes a day on her home treadmill, with an additional 10 minutes spent warming up and cooling down. She monitors her heart rate zone – keeping it between 125 to 140 beats per minute – to make sure she’s getting maximum advantage from her mileage, and adds more minutes of running to her routine each time she reaches a plateau.

While McGraw knows she doesn’t have a lot of weight to lose, she says her weight loss goal is no less daunting. “When you don’t have pounds and pounds to lose, people don’t notice when you have lost weight,” she says. “There’s not as much support.” She has found motivation in her husband, Mike – they eat the same healthy foods and clock in kilometres together on long walks on the weekend. “It’s is a big help,” says McGraw.

So far, McGraw’s biggest thrill has come from swapping her size-eleven pants for a svelte pair of size-nine low-rise flares, once relegated to the back of her closet. “I’m so glad I didn’t throw them away,” she says. Though her weight has fluctuated over the past few years, this time she’s determined to keep the pounds off for good. “I want it to be a different way of life, not a diet.”

Her advice to you:
You can lose weight without a regimented routine. “I don’t measure my food, but I eyeball the servings on my plate, and I eat more of whatever healthy food I feel like on any given day,” she says.

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