Geri Bossard loves cooking huge meals for family. Her son and husband have such big appetites that they often eat two dinners.
After years of eating extra meals with them, she noticed her weight had become a problem. She struggled to catch her breath as she walked up the stairs and always felt exhausted. The 5-foot-6-inch Geri weighed 210 pounds and knew she needed to make some changes.
“I was just eating like these huge, huge portions,” Geri, 59, of Lemont, Illinois, told TODAY.
While she had tried losing weight in the past, it never worked.
"I have tried other diets ... once you stop, the weight would come back on," she explained.
In 2017 she called Jenny Craig, a weight-loss program that provides pre-made, portioned meals along with the support of a personal consultant. As soon as Geri started, she began to shed pounds.
"There was not one week where I didn't lose weight," she said.
A few months later, her daughter Brittany Bossard wondered if she, too, needed to make a change. As a young professional, she was grappling with excess weight.
"The weight came on in college: I learned the freshman 15 was a real thing," Brittany, 28, of Northbrook, Illinois, told TODAY. "Once I graduated college and entered the real world, that is when things got bad for me."
Brittany worked long hours in the wealth management field and was too exhausted to cook when she returned home. In total, she gained about 30 pounds since high school. While the 5-foot-7-inch Brittany knew she was carrying extra weight, she did not realize just how much. Then she spotted a picture of herself as maid of honor at her best friend's wedding and felt shocked.
"The pictures don't lie," Brittany said. "That was a wake-up call."
When she saw her mom was successfully losing weight, she decided to follow her lead.
"I didn't feel myself going to bed overly full, which helped me sleep better. I had way more energy, which was great. My face kind of cleared up," she said. "I was happy to see that."
Like her mom, Brittany realized that she struggled with portion sizes.
"Before, I was happy to eat whatever was on my plate no matter if I was hungry," she said. "If I go out to dinner with my friends I don’t find myself wanting to eat the whole plate."
Brittany and her mom also slowly added exercise into their routines.
"I just started out walking 15 minutes a day because I was so out of shape," Geri said.
Brittany started walking with her mom (who now walks six miles a day). As she lost more weight, she started more high-intensity workouts, such as spin.
"It is nice to see that I keep up with the class. I was so behind (at first)," Brittany said.
In nine months Geri went from 210 pounds to 130 pounds and in six months Brittany went from 155 pounds to 130 pounds for a combined weight loss of 105 pounds. They both follow the meal plan to maintain their weight and feel grateful they had each other.
"I never imagined we would do it together. My mom and I are close anyway but it definitely helped us connect on a totally different level," Brittany said.
The two share tips to help others interested in losing weight.
1. Be smart when going out to eat
While Geri and Brittany go out to eat, they still want to enjoy it. That's why they make some decisions before they even pick up their forks.
"I have them wrap half my meal at first. I am satisfied with that," Geri said. "Before, I would finish the entire meal."
They choose healthy options, such as grilled salmon and vegetables, but if they want to enjoy a dessert, they simply split it.
2. Find support
When Brittany started losing weight it was easier because her mom understood what it was like.
"My mom would have different tips," Brittany explained. "If someone is lucky enough as I was to have a family member do it with them it makes it even better."
3. Just try
"There are people who think they can't do it. You can," Geri said. "Just go for it. What’s the worst that can happen?"