A Weighty Issue

I recently posted a photo on Facebook that has gotten a bit of attention. Yes, it was a before and after pic collage of my most recent weight loss journey. I say “most recent” because I have been fighting the battle of the bulge my entire life.

Until now I have not shared anything about my weight/health in my blogs because… well… I just don’t think it’s anyone’s business but mine. I know, that sounds harsh, but that’s really how I feel about it. Too often my weight (gain or loss) has become the topic of someone else’s conversation, and I just hated that. I have often been the recipient of snide comments about my weight (again – whether up or down) which always hurt. I do not want my writing about my journey to encourage anyone else feel any certain way about their own. Just because I fight to maintain a certain weight or size does not mean that I think any less about anyone else, no matter your size. I just want to put that out there first.

School Days

I’m sure reading this may be a few ladies who could identify with being ridiculed in elementary and middle school for not being one of the skinny girls. Honestly, why did it matter to anyone that I wore a bit larger size than other girls my age. I remember a day in middle school gym class. We were decked out in our snazzy light blue, one-piece gym suits to get weighed and measured. One of the cool girls decided it was her business to ask each person how much she weighed. When she got to me, I told her my weight, and she announced that I weighed too much and that I was fat.

As Anita in West Side Story, Junior year, fall 1981

By high school I had thinned out a bit, but my very best friend was as skinny as a rail. We still laugh about how we would go to an ice cream shop, both get sundaes, and she would eat all of hers and half of mine! I was trying to lose weight, and she needed to gain it. Yes, we are still bffs … and yes, she is still skinny – but she has to work at it now! I remember my high school health plan – Dexatrim and Diet Coke. I’m sure that did a number on my metabolism, but when your dance partner in show choir throws a fit because he is supposed to lift you, you resort to drastic measures.


I have a million more examples of times in which my weight was the topic of a comment to me or about me that hurt. It would do nothing to mention them here except make every single one of those people upset that I mentioned it. They would say that they were not intending to hurt my feelings, and I shouldn’t have “taken it that way.” I’m sure you understand. I say this so you understand that this has ALWAYS been an issue for me.

I remember doing one of my many exercise videos… this one in particular was by Kathy Smith. She was one of the fitness gurus of the 1980s. I clearly remember her saying in one video, “I was never a fatty…” I do not remember what she said next. It didn’t matter. She was saying that she has never had a weight issue. Kathy had no idea what it would be like to put on a pair of pants that fit fine a few months ago, but now they won’t even zip up. Why should I even listen to what she has to say? She has never been where I am.

If you are reading this, you were interested in my weight loss, so you may be wanting to take off a few pounds too. I want you to know that I’ve been where you are… several times! Most of my life, in fact. I have avoided social gatherings, weddings, reunions, etc. if my weight was up. I have avoided getting my photo taken, well, because I hate it… and because I thought I was too large and didn’t look good. If you are commiserating with me… keep reading.


Success, Failure, Success

I have tried most of the diet programs: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Emp180, intermittent fasting, and a variety of others. They all worked… while I was doing them. In December of 2010 I posed for a photo with my son at Universal Studios. When I saw that photo, I had the biggest “HOLY CRAP” moment that I had ever had. I was larger than I had ever been in my life… even when pregnant. I decided I needed to take care of it. January 2011 I started Nutrisystem. It worked for me. I also started walking, then running, then doing Zumba. I lost nearly 100 pounds in 10 months. I felt so much better! I was able to go off Nutrisystem and keep my loss going with portion control, healthy choices, and exercise. However, due to my rapid weight loss, people still had opinions! It seemed like everyone wanted to talk to me now… about my secret weight loss magic. A friend asked me what program I was on. When I told her, she said, “What? Do you want to be Marie Osmond?” Another friend told me that I was being obsessive about weight loss. Yet another actually asked me what my weight was because she didn’t think I was healthy. Actually, I had finally reached the normal/healthy spot on the BMI chart for the first time in my life.

Left – October 2011 Right top – June 2011 Right bottom – December 2010

I was able to maintain for several years. It wasn’t until I started a theatre program at the school where I was working in 2015 that I started gaining again. What changed? Focus. I taught classes all day, and then I had to run rehearsals and do everything involved with creating a theatre company ON MY OWN. I stopped my Zumba classes. I stopped running. I started drinking more and more often. I was overworked and exhausted. I ate whatever was readily available. Here we go again.

I became the Queen of the yo-yo diet. I could focus short term and drop a few pounds, but as soon as I would get overly busy again, I’d lose focus and gain it back.

2013, 2014, 2016, 2019


Oh COVID… 2020 was quite a year. Instead of taking the time to focus on fitness and healthy eating, I again ate what everyone else was eating. For most of 2020 Tom and I lived with Marcus, Amanda, and Emma… then Hunter joined us in June. Snacking became a hobby. My weight increased exponentially. January 2021, my wedding planning team had team and individual photos taken. Time for another “Holy Crap!” moment. I needed to find me again.

I saw that my friend Courtney had a weight loss program that had given her success. She was adamant that if you wanted to know what program she was on that you had to talk to her. It seemed odd, but ok. I told her I’d do the “health assessment” call with her. She described the Passion for Health program and told me that she would be my coach. Did it make me feel vulnerable to have someone I’ve known since 1973 be my health coach? YES. But I needed to do something, so I gave it a try.

I was immediately successful on the program, and it was nice to catch up with Courtney every week. She encouraged me to take my measurements and photos so that I could track my progress and see my success. I did not. I was too angry at myself for allowing me to gain that much weight again. It was hard enough to get on the scale, I was not going to be taking selfies and measuring my thighs.

It was my goal to remove 50lbs from my body by June 2021 because we planned to get another set of head shots and a team photo in June. I called a favorite photographer and scheduled our team shots. On the morning of the photoshoot, I hit my 50 lb loss.

June 2021 – Photographer, Daniel Meadows

Now what?

I’m not finished yet. I’d like to take off another another 15 and get moving again. I had no plans to be a coach, but I would also like to maintain for the rest of my life. I’m done with the yo-yo diets. One of the best ways to maintain is to stay accountable to others. If I’m coaching, I will have external motivation to stay the course rather than relying on my internal motivation to be healthy. I have always loved to encourage others to be the best they can be in whatever they are doing, and this is one way I can continue that mission.

Are you one of my 5?

I will coach 5 friends. Only 5. I am a busy person, and I do not want to take on more than I can handle well. If you want to find out more about our Passion for Health program, email me at renee.peterson.ga@gmail.com. Or if you are one of my FB friends, message me. If we talk, and the program is not for you, OK! I will not talk you into anything. I hope to hear from some of you! Wherever you are in your journey of health, be the best you can be, for you and for those who love you.

Featured image photographers ~ Left: Esther Griffin; Right: Daniel Meadows