SUCCESS STORY / Bibiana Marlar, 54, of Marietta

‘Fitting in exercise in a busy life can be challenging.’

When she started: “I started losing weight in mid-April of 2021,” Bibiana Marlar said. “I reached my goal weight by the following year in March 2022.”

Age: 54

Personal life: ”I am married to my wonderful husband, John, and we live with his 14-year-old son, Dylan, and our dog, Izzy, in Marietta. I have five adult children from a previous marriage, and I am a grandmother,” Marlar said. “I am originally from Germany and have been living in the United States for 32 years. I recently became an American citizen. I work as a Spanish teacher, with a German accent, at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School in downtown Atlanta. I have been working here for seven years, initially as a Latin teacher before teaching Spanish.”

The lifestyle change: “I was diagnosed as obese with prediabetes at my annual checkup in April 2021,” Marlar said. “Finding out that I was prediabetic made me scared that I might develop diabetes and become dependent on medication or insulin to control it. My doctor recommended that I lose weight and start exercising to reverse the prediabetes. When I walked in for my annual checkup this April, my weight had dropped, and I have pretty much maintained.”

Change in eating habits: “I focus on eating whole, real foods,” Marlar said. “... I get inspiration and some recipes from ‘100 Days of Real Food’ (www.100daysofrealfood.com).”

Bibiana’s how-tos:

1. “First, I changed my eating habits by limiting portion sizes. I then gradually started to avoid some of the unhealthy foods I was eating. ... I took the candy bowl away that we had on our coffee table.”

2. “Next, I step on the scale every morning. ... While I don’t count calories or points, I can see how I am doing. ... Then I make adjustments.”

3. “Third, I added more movement into my daily routines.”

Exercise routine: “Fitting in exercise in a busy life can be challenging,” Marlar said. “During the past school year, I tried to do at least two bike rides a week, but that did not always work out. ... I typically ride between 13 and 28 miles on the hills in Marietta, including riding up Kennesaw Mountain. ... For this school year, I am trying to get three bike rides in every week. It means preparing dinner the day before so I can ride before dinner and riding in the dark in our neighborhood once it gets dark earlier.”

Biggest challenge: My biggest challenge came when I had to undergo melanoma surgery in mid-July this year. ... I was not able to exercise for another four weeks,” Marlar said. “During that time, my weight started creeping up a bit. Now that I can go biking again, my weight has quickly dropped.”

Bibiana’s top tips:

1. Never give up. “You might realize you did not eat right at a meal or two during your weight-loss journey, but you can stop that pattern any time and get back on track.”

2. “Pick a kind of exercise that you enjoy and that you can fit into your lifestyle. I would not enjoy going to a gym, but I love the sights and sounds I experience when riding my bike.”

3. “Go slow and make lifestyle changes that you can maintain.”

How has life changed? “I have not been at the weight I am at now since I was a teenager,” Marlar said. “It felt great to walk into my doctor’s office this April and tell her that I followed her advice from last year to lose weight and start exercising. She seemed genuinely impressed with my success. ... My youngest daughter, who is away for college, also gives me compliments every time she sees me. She laments a bit that I am not ‘squishy’ anymore, but I think that is a good change.”


Seeking readers’ stories of lifestyle changes: We’re looking for stories about changing health habits. While The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not endorse any specific programs, we include names and links for the benefit of readers who want further information. If you would like to share your story of a lifestyle change, please contact reporter Michelle C. Brooks and include your email address, phone number, and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG). You can email her directly at: ajcsuccessstories@gmail.com.