Having weighed 186 pounds at only nine years old, Breanna went through all the bullying, torment, and hopelessness that comes with obesity, but her life has changed. Fourteen months of exercise and progressive changes to her diet and lifestyle resulted in a loss of 76 pounds and dramatic changes to her life and health.
People sometimes ask how Breanna got to 186 pounds. What it boils down to was inactivity, unhealthy eating, and overeating. Breanna’s mom cooked very rich, fattening foods, and lots of it. She never considered the amount of fat or salt in any given meal and whole grains and vegetables were not a priority on the shopping list. The cupboards were always stocked with chips and crackers and there was always ice cream in the freezer. Unhealthy cooking, bad eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle led to her obesity and are major contributors to the obesity of many children and teens in America. But there is good news. Being overweight is 100 percent reversible. No child was made to be overweight.
Being overweight is 100 percent reversible. No child was made to be overweight.
Breanna’s weight loss journey began when her mom signed her up for a swim team hoping that she would start losing weight Unfortunately it didn’t work. Actually, her weight continued to climb. After seeing 186 register on the scale, her mom added walking to her routine. A 3.8 mile walk on a local trail was introduced as a family activity to be done over the Christmas holiday. As the holiday break neared its end the scale revealed that Breanna lost six pounds. This moment was the first sign of success and became the inspiration for all that was to come.
At 186 pounds, walking for Breanna was equivalent to a normal size child walking while lugging eight sacks of potatoes on her back. She had absolutely no desire to go for walks, but her family didn’t give her an option. They were no longer willing to give in to any resistance. There were no more excuses and they implemented what her mom called a “No tolerance policy.” Her dad just called it tough love. While Breanna was frequently mad at them through the process of getting healthy, now she is very thankful that they followed through. Their persistence saved her life.
The family’s new normal included walking four times a week, and Breanna swam five times a week. The “No Tolerance Policy” meant that the whole family walked in all weather, healthy or sick, no excuses for anyone. And the weight was coming off. But with this success came the reality that Breanna was still a kid and wanted to go to birthday parties and other functions, so a deal was struck. The walks were ramped up to six days a week so that any indulgences like birthday cake wouldn’t get in the way of the path to health. As her fitness level improved, new ways to challenge Breanna had to be introduced. Instead of just walking, short jogs were incorporated as interval training. The athlete in Breanna was emerging. She began to see muscle and definition in her legs and by summer Breanna had lost 37 pounds.
With the hot summers in central California, alternatives to walking outside were necessary. Walking and jogging moved from the trail to a treadmill. With school out, activities to keep Breanna and her brother Nathan busy rather than sitting in front of the television and snacking had to be found. Almost daily trips to the local waterslide park or trampoline facility were the answer. Breanna got extra workouts in every day and didn’t even know it. She had a great time over the summer and lost another 20 pounds, reaching her first milestone weight goal of 130 pounds. After only eight months she had lost equivalent to nearly six bags of potatoes, and some of the kids didn’t even recognize her when she returned to school asking, “Who is the new girl?” Breanna just smiled.
Does a butterfly long to become a caterpillar? Why would she choose to crawl and molt when she had learned how to fly?
Food is an equally important part of the equation. When Breanna started her journey she was still eating hot lunches at school and all the foods that her mom cooked. Just as the exercise routine evolved over time, so did the food. Not knowing how to cook healthy, the family eating habits were a constantly changing experiment. “Healthy” frozen dinners was the first experiment. Healthy just meant low in fat and calories, but far from healthy. Leaner meats, vegetables, a switch to non-fat milk, and elimination of cooking oils followed. Eventually the rule became 20 grams of fat or less per day and minimizing sugar. Now their food choices have evolved even further to “clean” eating. Most meals are prepared using whole foods, and prepackaged foods must have only natural ingredients. And they never drink their calories!
By January 15, 2013 Breanna reached her goal of 115 pounds, but decided not to stop there. Continued efforts resulted in achieving her final goal of 110 pounds in March. After reaching her goal, people started asking Breanna what she would do now. They assumed she would start eating fast food and ice cream again. Breanna was never on a diet, nor was a calorie ever counted. It was always about being healthy and changing to a healthy lifestyle. Dieting to reach a goal only to go back to the lifestyle that got you in trouble in the first place is common in our society. It took 14 months for Breanna to change her life. Her family has undergone a metamorphosis, Breanna most of all. Does a butterfly long to become a caterpillar? Why would she choose to crawl and molt when she had learned how to fly. Today she is down 79 pounds and living the life that she always wanted and deserved. She is swimming on a competition team, running in 5k’s, participating in school sports, and even did her first triathlon.
Breanna’s journey to health started with a walk, and succeeded with the support and persistence of her family, but it wasn’t easy. There were no programs to follow, no professional help, and certainly no role models or examples to learn from. She wants to be that role model. She feels her calling is to inspire children and teens to succeed where so many fail. This website documents her journey from a 9 year old struggling with obesity to an 11 year old with a new outlook on life, participating actively in competitive sports and looking forward to all that life has to offer. She hopes this website inspires you or a loved one to beat childhood obesity.