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Going through the pandemic and a divorce at the same time hit Margaret Taylor hard. In May 2021, she weighed 211 pounds — her highest weight ever. She was tired all the time, her knees ached, and she needed medication to control her blood pressure. She was 57 years old, and she knew something had to change.
Today, she’s 44 pounds lighter. She’s full of energy, she can run up and down stairs without a twinge in her knees, and she expects to be off her blood pressure medication within a month. Here’s how she did it.
She started with a single step
Taylor, who lives in Russellville, Ohio, works as a loan processor and last May, her health insurance company sponsored a walking challenge where she could earn points toward gift cards. She decided to try it. “I earned $150 in gift cards, which I used to buy a new pair of walking shoes,” she said.
When the challenge ended, she wanted to find a new way to reinforce her walking habit. On the TODAY show on July 4, she saw a daily 20-minute walking challenge from TODAY fitness expert, Stephanie Mansour. “Steph was energetic, and I liked what she was doing. I thought this would be something else to motivate me,” Taylor said.
She kept increasing her step count. Most days, she would push herself to walk just a bit further — if she had walked 1.25 miles, she would make it an even 1.5. Or she would walk for a few more minutes by sticking with it until the end of a song. “Now, I walk as much as I can. I try to get at least 10,000 steps, and I push for more. I’m kind of addicted to it,” she said. She often calls friends who live in other cities to walk and talk. She prefers to walk outdoors, but she’ll walk inside her house and listen to music if it’s raining.
She wanted to add more movement to her routine, so she downloaded the Step It Up with Steph app. “I like her app. I do the daily challenge every morning after I get up, drink my coffee and turn on the news,” she said. She also added a weekly cardio class and started a strength-building bootcamp program last October.
She added other healthy habits into her life
Taylor said her walking routine inspired her build some healthy eating and lifestyle habits. She:
- Eats a lot of salad
- Stays away from processed food and added sugar
- Drinks half her body weight in ounces of water each day
- Focuses on getting enough sleep
In a typical day, this is what she might eat:
- Breakfast: 16 ounces of water, then scrambled eggs with spinach or Greek yogurt with fruit
- Lunch: Salad with protein, such as grilled chicken
- Dinner: Baked fish with sweet potatoes and lots of veggies
- Snack: She sometimes craves the crunch of salty chips, so she substitutes carrots or celery. She’ll eat sweets occasionally, but doesn’t keep them in the house.
Taylor doesn’t dismiss her healthy habits, but she gives exercise credit for boosting her energy, improving her health and helping her lose weight. “I’m focusing on trying to eat healthier, but my biggest focus is movement. By far, the thing I think has helped me most is the walking and the weights,” she said.
She uses Facebook and Fitbit to hold herself accountable
Taylor tracks her food, water and movement with her Fitbit. Her job in banking keeps her at a desk, so she tries to get up and move as much as she can.
She shares her progress on her personal Facebook page and in the Start TODAY Facebook group. “If I’m posting on Facebook, I need to make sure I’m moving. It’s a mind game I play with myself,” she said. “It’s a motivating thing for me, and if I can motivate one other person, that’s a plus.”
Taylor said that recently someone joined the Start TODAY group and asked if the Step It Up with Steph app was worth it. She shared her before-and-after photo and said, “You tell me, are you worth it? I think you are worth it. I think we’re all worth it.”
She is looking to the future
Taylor is thankful she’s made the time to focus on her health. “I know I should have done it 10, 15 or 20 years ago, but I didn’t, so I need to do something now. I’ve got one son, and I want to be here for him. I want to be around if I ever have grandkids, so my health is very important,” she said.
Taylor has been on blood pressure medication for years. A couple of months ago, her doctor lowered the dosage thanks to her weight loss and told her she may be able to go off it altogether within a month.
She plans to continue building muscle and losing weight in her journey toward better health. “I’m happy where I’m at, but I’m not stopping,” she said. “I feel so much better. It’s unbelievable, the energy that I have.”