Condrea Webber has struggled with her weight since she was a kid, even as far back as kindergarten when she weighed 70 pounds. She said she didn’t let that stop her from enjoying life. But, when she learned she had high blood pressure and pre-diabetes, she decided it was time for a change.
After she was diagnosed in 2008, Webber slowly began shedding weight, which also brought her blood pressure down a bit. But her blood sugar, or A1C, levels were still elevated and she worried: Her grandmother died in her late 40s because of diabetes.
When she heard about her workplace’s “Biggest Loser” competition in September 2018, she knew she had to join. At 5 feet 10 inches tall and 354 pounds, she felt that losing more weight would only improve her health.
“I was this active plus-size lady and, when those health problems came along, it made me get serious,” Webber, 44, of Mansfield, Ohio, told TODAY. “I was like ‘I’ve got to get it together, so (illness and early death) is not my fate, too.’”
She had tried ways to reduce her weight so many times, she wondered if she would succeed.
“I had failed so many times at losing weight,” she said.
But, when her friend lost almost 100 pounds in a year following the ketogenic diet -- a high fat, low carbohydrate, moderate protein way of eating -- Webber thought she’d try it. She started by cutting out unhealthy foods from her diet. But the first thing she knew she had to eliminate felt like the hardest — drinking two liters of soda a day.
“I did not think I could stop drinking pop,” Webber said.
Once she did it, she realized it was easier for her to make other healthy choices.
“I was able to focus. I wasn’t craving so much sugar,” she said. “It saved my life.”
About a month into her weight loss effort, Webber said she decided to started intermittent fasting, what’s also called the 16:8 diet. She starts eating at 11 a.m. and eats all of her calories over the next eight hours. She enjoys bacon, eggs, tuna, vegetables and, occasionally, a splurge on a higher carb option like a sandwich or pizza.
“I just plan strategically when to eat,” she explained.
As Webber changed how and when she ate, she also increased her activity. She said she’s always enjoyed dancing and walking, even at her heaviest weight of 428 pounds in 2007. She just increased how much she moved and usually walks about 3.5 miles, five times a week. Sometimes she runs up the bleachers at a local school.
“When I first started, I could barely do a mile,” she said. “I kept increasing my distance. This October, I will be signing up for a (half) marathon.”
Since September, she has shed 95 pounds and wears a size 16 instead of a 32. She hopes to weigh about 180 pounds, but she’s amazed by how great she feels already. She’s gone from taking five pills a day to two.
“My health is getting better, I feel like I have taken an anti-aging serum,” Webber said. “Now, I am just having so much fun with it. If I get bored, instead of me eating, I put my tennis shoes on and walk.”
Webber shares her advice for those hoping to lose weight.
1. Don’t let a bad day ruin it
It can be hard to make so many changes and Webber certainly made mistakes along the way. But she didn’t let one bad day derail her healthy habits.
“If you have a bad day, just don’t stay there. Start right back,” she said. “Keep going and know you can do it.”
2. Find support
When Webber walks, she said she snapchats with her friend who is always walking. This keeps her entertained and accountable to someone else. Her brother joined her at a hip-hop class and he also lost weight. Her 82-year-old dad still runs marathons and supports his daughter’s efforts.
“So many people are rooting for me and wanting us, as a whole, to be healthy,” she said. “The support has been great.”
What’s more, the students at the school where she works as a cook have stopped giving her pastries as gifts.
“They bring me cans of tuna or bags of almonds,” she said with a laugh. “They just draw me a picture. My desk is full of pictures and tuna.”
3. Have goals that aren’t tied to the scale
Webber loves that she can go anywhere and buy clothes or when she sees pictures of herself on social media and she notices a difference. This keeps her motivated when the numbers on the scale don't change.
“It is super nice to walk into the store and buy normal-size clothes,” she said.