By Julie Davis
Weight always has been an issue for Alina Ferreira, 32, of Toms River. She recalls starting to diet when she hit puberty. “I was always borderline between normal and heavy, though closer to heavy,” she says. It was at age 20, when she got her first “real” job, that the pounds suddenly piled on. “Working all day in front of a computer, the weight just creeps up on you.”
While Ferreira dieted in her younger years, she never took it too seriously. She was active enough to keep her weight under control. But once the weight became more apparent, she decided it was time to take action. Atkins was her first attempt, with which she initially had great success. “I started Atkins when I was 180 pounds and dropped down to 165,” she says. “I felt better, my clothes fit better and I was happy with myself.” But as she weaned herself from the diet and began to reintroduce carbohydrates (the forbidden food of Atkins), the pounds started to immediately return.
Her next effort was another popular diet, which set her weight loss goal at 150—a number she felt was unrealistic. “I lost 20 pounds, but just couldn’t sustain the diet. I never made it to my goal.”
Sound familiar? It’s the long running curse of the fad diet. “These types of diets don’t work because after the person goes off of it and back to their old habits and mindset, the weight comes right back,” says Dr. Claudia Huegel, founder of Medimorphosis, a physician-assisted weight loss program in Shrewsbury, where Ferreira is a patient. “The only way to lose weight permanently is to shift from a temporary diet to new and healthy permanent habits.” Weight loss, notes Huegel, is more than just monitoring caloric intake; it’s also a state of mind.
Ferreira says her “diet mentality” never enabled her to make a oernabebt lifestyle choice, which she now believes is key to successful and sustained weight loss. “I think with my freak-it mentality, I could never get too far. My mindset needed to be altered about dieting before any lasting changes could begin.”
It was a turning point in Ferreira’s career, where she went from behind the desk to speaking in front of groups of people, that was the impetus for her to lose weight the right way and finally make that lasting change.
A Google search led her to Huegel, whose approach to weight loss intrigued Ferriera. No pills, no trends, no fads; just a healthy fine-tuning of your lifestyle and, most importantly, frame of mind. “I think it’s so important to help people change their thought patterns in order to change their behavior and stay motivated over the long term,” says Huegel.
After meeting with Huegel, Ferriera decided to embark on, what she hoped, was her final weight loss journey. The goal: 150 pounds. After six months on a plan that complemented Ferreira’s lifestyle—nutrition based on her likes and dislikes, exercise based on her habits and time constraints—she lost weight on a weekly basis. “I lost about one to two pounds a week in the first six weeks, so I was down about 12 at the end of the six week initial program,” she says. “After that I just kept on losing. The weight loss was very consistent, which was a first in my dieting history.”
This past Thanksgiving, Ferreira weighed in at an impressive 145 pounds—five below her once “unrealistic” goal. Entering 2012, she’s managed to maintain that number, even through the holiday season.
“I feel wonderful, but weight loss is not a miracle which will solve all my problems. I’ve accepted that simple truth and moved on,” says Ferreira. What it does do, she says, is significantly boost your self-confidence.
“Alina before was a shy, overweight person with pretty low self-esteem. I don’t think I was unhappy before, but I am truly happy now. It simply radiates from me,” she said with a laugh.
Since losing the weight a lot has changed for Ferreira, most notably her attitude toward dieting, but also her sense of style. “Shopping for clothes is now a pleasure, not a chore,” she says. “My style has completely evolved. Dark jeans are a must and I love pencil skirts and dresses, which I used to never wear because I couldn’t find any that flatter. I have a pair of black pants that fit and love to add a splash of color on top. I stray away from wearing all black now, whereas before I would have not given much thought since black is supposed to be slimming, right?”
Right. But for Ferreira, that no longer matters.