For Teena Henson, every new dieting fad she came across did nothing to help control her weight problem. At 5-foot-4, 332 lbs., she knew full well what her unhealthy lifestyle was leading up to: Both of her parents and her three brothers were all diabetic. Henson always wanted to reach a healthy weight but was also hindered by strict diets that she could not comply with on top of physical inactivity. When she came across a newspaper ad for Anytime Fitness, a 24 hour gym that was opening in her hometown of Gilmer, Texas, Henson knew she had no more excuses.
"For me, 'diet' is a four-letter word for failure," Henson told CNN. "The smallest of changes one can make in their present lifestyle can garner big changes, not only in the physical body, but in the mind."
March 8, 2011 marked Henson's first day at Anytime Fitness. She knew reaching her desired weight was not going to be an overnight transformation. Thirty minutes to an hour of her day were now devoted to the gym. She found no problem with this subtle change to her daily routine and pretty soon she was making it six to seven days out of her week. Next, came her biggest problem from the past: changing her eating habits. Henson started off by ending her addiction to sugary soft drinks. She admitted to drinking anywhere between six to eight cans of soda a day before making her decision to get in shape.
Just by cutting out soda and artificial sweeteners from her diet, she lost a total of 18 lbs. in the first month of her new life. In spite of this positive step toward her weight loss goal, she was still eating fast food and other high-calorie meals. So she took away the fast food and made small changes to her favorite recipes. She substituted turkey for beef, grilled chicken for fried, and salad for french fries. Nine months after starting her “journey to life” she was down to 268 lbs.
“If I want a piece of cake or candy, then I eat it, I just don't overdo it,” Henson told The Huffington Post. “To deprive yourself of something just makes you want it more, and then you wind up over-indulging. I never went on a diet. That one tiny little word sets you up for defeat. It is a lifestyle change. Everyone wants to know the secret. Here it is: There isn't one. You have to find what works for you.”
Today at the age of 54, Henson's small steps have equated to a full-on healthy eating program. Quinoa, whole wheat bread, and vegetables are staples of her current daily eating habits. On an average day, she aims to consume 1,200 calories. She even looks forward to 5k walks for charity. Three years after starting her membership at Anytime Fitness, she has lost 166 lbs., a total of half her body weight back in 2011. Henson's story goes to show what even the smallest change to your daily routine can mean for your health in the long run.