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Last year, Detricia Woods-Meadows committed to making a simple change — walking 10,000 steps every single day — which has since transformed her health, reversed her pre-diabetes and led to a 65-pound weight loss.
The 51-year-old mother who lives in Dallas, Texas, recently shared her success story in a Feb. 27 segment on the TODAY show.
Less than a year ago, Woods-Meadows' life looked very different.
"By 2022, I was out of shape, at my highest weight ever and in pain from arthritis and a torn meniscus," she said on TODAY. "For years, I made excuses about why working out wasn’t for me."
Although Woods-Meadows was used to walking every day to work, the pandemic flipped her daily routine upside down — like many of us, her workdays turned into a lot of sitting around at home — and a knee surgery set her back even further. "My mom who is in her 70s was walking more than me," she said.
"I had recently learned that two people I knew growing up had passed away. One was complications of diabetes and the other one was heart disease, and we were the same age," said Woods-Meadows, adding that she did not want to be in the same position.
“I knew I needed to make a change, but I never felt motivated enough to do it on my own."
"I knew I needed to make a change, but I never felt motivated enough to do it on my own," said Woods-Meadows. So in the spring of 2022, she called her cousin Anthony, and the two decided they would hold each other accountable to walk every single day, sending their step counts to motivate each other.
A few months later, she came across another TODAY show story about Doreen Fox, who lost weight by walking around inside her house. "I read that Doreen was part of the Start TODAY community, so I figured I’d give the group a try myself," said Woods-Meadows.
In June 2022, Woods-Meadows joined Start TODAY, TODAY’s community of 120,000 members committed to improving their health through walking and other manageable lifestyle changes.
By the time she joined the group, she had been walking about 5,000 steps a day for a month, and started to up her step goal by 500 steps every two to three weeks. After reading the testimonies of other group members who had met their weight loss and health goals, she said she realized she could do it, too.
However, it wasn't until August 2022 that Woods-Meadows had a wake up call that motivated her to push herself even further.
"Letting myself go further was not an option."
As part of her journey to improve her health, Woods-Meadows scheduled a routine physical with her doctor, where she found out she was prediabetic. "I was scared to tears, and I knew that letting myself go further was not an option," Woods-Meadows said.
After receiving her prediabetes diagnosis, Woods-Meadows said she was committed to making lifestyle changes and getting healthier without any medication. “I immediately bumped up my step goal to 10,000 steps a day and aimed to increase my goal by five hundred to one thousand steps each month," she said.
At home, Woods-Meadows focused on portion control and increased her water intake. “I don’t like the word diet. ... My motto is I can have it, (but) I can’t have it all," she said. "My work had only begun, and I was excited to see where the journey would take me."
Thanks to this a-ha moment and her new attitude, Woods-Meadows is losing weight safely and sustainably. "I’ve lost 65 pounds as of today, and I have about 20 pounds to go until I reach my my first goal," she shared.
Another major milestone? Woods-Meadows said she is no longer prediabetic and that, since November, her bloodwork has been coming back normal. "I have one more follow-up next month to confirm everything's good, then I can continue on and I don't have to look at prediabetes ever again," she said.
As of today, she is up to 13,000 steps a day and has been walking every single day for 280 days total. How does she stay so consistent?
"I’ve never been this consistent with anything. Now I’m motivated every day."
"It is hard sometimes sometimes ... but then I have to remember why I am doing this and I'm doing this for me — I’m taking care of myself, nobody else is going do it," said Woods-Meadows, adding that no matter what, she still gets up and moves every day.
Woods-Meadows also credits the Start TODAY community for providing support. “The Start TODAY family is the most motivating, encouraging family. ... You get to be yourself and you get to be vulnerable," said Woods-Meadows, adding that she's even made new friends thanks to the group.
For others who are in a similar position or want to make lifestyle changes, Woods-Meadows shared a few pieces of advice.
"My first tip is to see your doctor and schedule that physical so that they can see if any underlining issues are going on," said Woods-Meadows, adding that people should also talk with their doctor before starting a new exercise routine. "You do not want to do something that could hurt you in the long run," she added.
Next, Woods-Meadows recommended making small, realistic goals and being consistent about meeting them. "I’ve never been this consistent with anything. Now I’m motivated every day, I have a goal every day," she added.
Finally, be kind to yourself. “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. ... This is your journey, this is your life, this is your health. ... You have the reins," she said.