When Gina Buck, 63, was getting close to retiring, she decided it was time to take care of herself. She has two children and five granddaughters. “I try to be healthy for my family and myself. I want to have the energy to do things with them. We go on camping trips, and I want to be able to do everything that everybody else can do,” she said.
Buck had struggled with her weight since her 20s. As a working single mom, she dealt with a lot of stress. And, like a lot of people, she tried many different diets, but nothing kept the weight off for good.
Her highest weight was 287 pounds, and she was determined not to hit 300 pounds. Now she’s down to 195 pounds and hopes to get to 180. “I feel so much better with the extra weight off. This is the smallest I’ve been in 20 years. I still have more to lose, and I plan to keep walking daily to keep it off, but I love the new me,” she said. “I’m stronger, and I can do a lot more with my grandchildren. Now I wear them out!”
She said that after the weight loss, she now:
- Sleeps better
- Has less back pain
- Can shop for clothes in regular stores
- Feels comfortable wearing shorts and a bathing suit
“Before, I would never wear shorts. I would wear capris — I was not showing my fat legs. I would never have worn a bathing suit in public, either. Now that I have lost 90 pounds, I feel comfortable in my skin. It feels good to go out and feel carefree,” she said.
Here’s how she did it.
She turned to medication for a jump start
In August 2021, Buck went to her doctor and asked for medication to begin her weight-loss process. Buck said the medication helped curb her hunger and boost her energy levels. She also tried a program that includes vitamins, a protein shake and a skin patch that contains ingredients designed to promote weight loss.
The combination helped her lose an initial 20 pounds. "I really just needed to get started again," she said. She continues to take vitamins and drink protein shakes, but she no longer takes the medication or wears the patch.
She ramped up her daily walks
When Buck was working, it was hard for her to walk more than 6,000 steps a day. “I decided that when I retired, I was going to concentrate on me because I’ll have all the time in the world. I can go walk all day,” she said.
She retired in January 2022 and, true to her word, she set a 10,000-steps-a-day goal for herself. She lives near Myrtle Beach, SC, so she gets up early and as soon as it’s light enough to see the beach, she’s out walking. “My kids laugh at me. They say, ‘Mom isn’t going to quit until she gets her steps in.’ But I could walk for hours on the beach,” she said.
By August, she realized she was getting more than 15,000 steps a day, so she set that as her new goal. “Everything after that is a bonus. Some days I walk 30,000 steps,” she said.
Along with walking, she lifts weights at Planet Fitness twice a week for about an hour and a half, building strength in her abdomen, stomach, arms and legs. And in the fall and winter, she bowls two nights a week.
She pays attention to what she eats (kind of)
Buck is quick to admit that she doesn’t eat a healthy diet. “I never have. I’m not a vegetable or a fruit eater. I am a pizza, hamburger, sandwich eater. All my life, I’ve been told I had to eat healthier. I always thought I would never lose any weight because I would have to eat salads, but you can lose weight without eating salads all day long,” she said.
Here’s how she manages her diet:
- She doesn’t keep sweets or junk food in her house: “That way, I’m not tempted with any of that stuff. That was my problem before.”
- She tracks her food and exercise and aims to stay within her calorie limit, which is about 1,500 calories most days. “Sometimes I go a little bit over, and sometimes I have less. It depends on what I’m doing that day and whether I had time to fit in breakfast, lunch and dinner. I try to eat all three meals, but sometimes when I’m out and about, I don’t get a chance,” she said.
- She fasts for 13 hours every night and tracks when her fast starts and ends to help her avoid temptation in the evenings. Once she’s logged that her fast has begun, she’s committed.
- She makes sure to drink plenty of water. She drinks 101 ounces of water daily, which is half her body weight in ounces.
She connects with others who are on the same journey
Buck joined the Start TODAY Facebook group in April 2022. “I love talking to people and commenting on what they’ve done,” she said. One day she posted a video of the ocean, and she got so many positive responses that she posts one daily now. “They can see what I see and hear the waves and sometimes see the sunrise,” she said.
She likes how the group is positive and supportive. “Some people get a mile in. It’s great that they’re moving — that’s the main thing,” she said. And she appreciates that everyone takes their own path to weight loss and better health: “What works for one person doesn’t always work for somebody else. But getting the weight off makes you feel so much better.”