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Woman 62, loses 100 pounds, reverses diabetes: 'I wanted to be a normal size'

After years of struggling to lose weight, she finally found success with a simple eating plan and encouragement from a support group.
Lisa Laurion, pictured with her husband, Paul, before her weight loss (left), and after losing more than 100 pounds.
Lisa Laurion, pictured with her husband, Paul, before her weight loss (left), and after losing more than 100 pounds.Courtesy Lisa Laurion
/ Source: TODAY

Lisa Laurion says it took a village for her to lose weight. She credits her transformation, from severely obese to a healthy body mass index, to strong support from the people around her — and a kitchen scale.

The struggle with excess weight started when she was a child. She turned to food as a source for comfort and replaced “dealing with a lot of things” with eating, she recalled. As Laurion entered midlife, her concerns grew.

Standing 5 feet, 3 inches tall, the biggest number she ever saw when stepping on a scale was 260 pounds — a BMI that put her in the severely obese category.

“I was starting to have a lot of health problems like diabetes. I had breathing problems, depression from it all and it was a very difficult time,” Laurion, 62, who lives in North Berwick, Maine, told TODAY.

“I wanted to be a normal size. Not just be the big girl beside my thin husband — I really wanted to be a normal person.”

Lisa Laurion says she used food to soothe herself and would often overeat. Courtesy Lisa Laurion

As she battled to get under 200 pounds, Laurion enlisted the help of a nutritionist, but found the advice was too restrictive, so Laurion gave up. There were periods of time she was able to lose 30 pounds, but felt stuck and couldn’t slim down more.

In 2019, Laurion tried to lose weight for her son’s wedding, but “just went the other way,” she recalled. “That’s when I decided that I really, really needed to do something about it, that I really needed extra help.”

Laurion turned to TOPS — which stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly — a nonprofit, noncommercial network of weight-loss support groups established in 1948. The organization has thousands of local chapters across the U.S. where people meet weekly in person or online. Members learn to eat better and move more as they work toward a goal weight, the nonprofit noted. The focus is on improvement, not perfection. There’s no specific diet or food plan.

How she lost the weight:

Laurion set her goal weight at 136 pounds. The main component of her weight-loss plan was eating three weighed and measured meals a day. Her kitchen scale was key: “I find that it makes a big difference because I can tend to put a little bit more (on my plate) without noticing it,” she said.

A sample day’s menu might include:

Breakfast: 8 ounces of yogurt, 6 ounces of fruit and an ounce of oatmeal.

Lunch: 4 ounces of protein such as chicken or fish and a cup of cooked vegetables.

Dinner: Another 4 ounces of meat or other protein, 4 ounces of rice or potato, 8 ounces of salad and a tablespoon of dressing.

Laurion also stayed away from sugar and flour, and stopped putting cream in her coffee.

Many of her cravings went away after she stopped eating sweets and carb-laden snacks, but when she did crave a problem food or extra calories, Laurion used self-talk to convince herself she didn’t need it.

“I’ve had plenty of that in my life because I’ve eaten most things in abundant quantities. I’ve had my share. That’s not my food,” she would tell herself.

“You’ve had your food and you’ll have your next meal. Wait till tomorrow and see how you feel then.”

Laurion also tried to get in 10,000 steps a day, which usually wasn’t a problem because she walks a lot as part of her job in a factory.

Laurion tries to be more active to maintain her weight loss.Courtesy Lisa Laurion

‘Weight Loss Queen’

Laurion liked the accountability and social aspect of TOPS, where she has made a lot of good friends, she said. Members discuss their weight struggles, recognize each other’s accomplishments and are there for each other “when we’re down and out,” she noted.

Today, Laurion weighs 140 pounds. She has lost so much weight and is so close to her goal that she was named TOPS’ “Weight Loss Queen” for Maine. She has kept off 100 pounds for more than a year.

“I wanted to be a normal size. Not just be the big girl beside my thin husband — I really wanted to be a normal person," she said. The couple has been married 42 years.Courtesy Lisa Laurion

The transformation had led to better health: Laurion has reversed her diabetes, is breathing well, her joints don’t ache as much and she’s no longer depressed, she said.

Still, there have been some adjustments along the way. Laurion was extremely cold when she lost all the weight, but has now learned to dress for it. She also found her face had changed.

“There’s a lot that goes with being at this age and losing weight. You have a lot of wrinkles that you never saw before and I looked very much different, so it was very hard at first to get used to,” she said.

“(But) you feel healthier as you go. You feel like you’re relaxed with your body. You’re relaxed with your face and people become accepting of it.”

Laurion’s advice for others trying to lose weight: Don’t wait for the perfect time to do it — it might not ever come. Take the action of choosing a meal plan that works for you and stick with it. Take everything a day at a time and seek out the support you need.

Laurion found comfort in her faith and in asking God for help, she said. She’s thankful for all the people and love on her journey.

“For some of us, it takes a whole village. It took a village for me,” she noted. “I’m very thankful that it’s attainable, but you have to really want it.”