Published 12:00 am Monday, February 7, 2005

Two local women take the challenge—Identities to be revealed in six months



LAPLACE – “Glennis” said that it was only a couple of months ago that she was actually praying for God to give her some help in getting back to her weight of many years ago.

That is why she wanted to go public with her newest effort to lose weight, taking part in L’Observateur’s “Biggest Loser” challenge.

“I had actually prayed for God to give me a way to help lose the weight. First I went to the gym and thought that was a good start, but then when I heard about this competition in the newspaper, I knew it was an answer to prayer,” she said.

Glennis, age 48, sees the competition as a way to motivate herself, her competitor, and hopefully others who read the stories.

“I feel like this challenge is such an opportunity for myself and the other woman doing it,” she said. “But just doing it publically is motivating to me. When I saw the ad looking for people to do the story in the paper, I decided that I was going to compete with whoever got picked, even if I didn’t get picked.

“I’m just glad for the extra motivation for myself and the woman I’m competing against. This should help us both and hopefully motivate others. But I’m just sorry for her since she is going to lose,” she said with a laugh.

Now up near the 200

pound range, Glennis is like so many others who have battled weight problems unsuccessfully for years.

“It has been devastating for me emotionally to have the weight,” she said, fighting back tears. “I still look in the mirror and see myself as a thin person, and I still feel attractive and feminine. But I just feel upset that I have the extra weight. It’s just the way society makes you feel.”

Although she was around 130 pounds and in great physical condition coming out of the law enforcement academy in her earlier years, it was about 1996 when she suddenly began putting weight on.

“It just slowly came on me, and even though I dieted off-and-on and would lose it, I always gained it back and then slowly added a little more,” she explained.

Glennis grew up in a family that payed little attention to being healthy. A French family, she says that eating was a part of everything they did.

“We would eat to celebrate, eat if we had sorrow, eat when we met friends. And it was always the potatoes, pastas, rice and gravy,” she said.

Both her parents were overweight, as were many of her other relatives.

“There was just no real physical activity,” she said. “And consequently there were a lot of physical problems for many of my family members.”

Growing up in the New Orleans area and graduating from L.W. Higgins High School, Glennis was actually still thin most of her early life due to a thyroid condition. She attended Delgado College and then went into law enforcement, where she got in the best physical condition of her life.

“Since I was one of few women at the academy, I always tried to do more than anything they required physically,” she said. “I graduated in the top of the class and was in very good physical shape.”

At 130 pounds, she was already married and had two kids in her early years of life. But even with the kids, she lost her weight and maintained the 130 pound range.

After a divorce, she slowly began to find herself facing a weight problem. Going to a doctor, she found out that her thyroid problem actually was beginning to make her gain weight.

“It was a factor, but I’m not at all saying it kept me from losing the weight. The thyroid problem was just a challenge to deal with. I still could have kept the weight off, but I just wasn’t able to beat it,” she said.

In the following years her weight began to climb. She tried many diets, herbal supplements and anything else she could find. She remarried in 2000 and was now up to 160 pounds, something that actually made her weight struggle a little tougher.

“My lifestyle changed,” she said. “Now I wanted to have a nice dinner at night with my husband, and I couldn’t just avoid meals.”

Her weight continued to climb until finally hitting 200 just a year-and-a-half ago. She admits that she even quit weighing herself, but knew it was going higher by the size of clothes she had to buy.

“I hit a size 18 and that was really hard,” she said. “I used to be able to go to the store and buy anything nice that I liked. Now it was so different. I had to be so careful in what I picked out.”

A year ago she began to once again take on the problem. She went to a nutritionalist, Catherine Wilbert in Metairie with The Nutrition Company, and got some good advice on how to eat better. While it didn’t help her lose weight, it did help her feel better.

“I had had a hysterectomy some years back, and then I even quit smoking in June of 2004. But at least I didn’t gain weight from that,” she said. “The nutritionalist really helped me though. I’m eating much better now with no processed foods, no sugars and no gravies or sauces. I still love meat and eat that, but I use a lot of spices.”

She began exercising a month ago, hit-and-miss at first, but now is going to stay on a routine that includes a treadmill, weights and other cardio work twice a week. Occasionally she does an extra day of cardio.

“Thin is associated with being beautiful and smart. And even though I know I’m the same person I always was, I’m especially interested in losing the weight so I can age in a way that won’t bring on health problems. I saw that enough with my family,” she added.