SUCCESS STORY / Marilyn Dryden, 69, of Acworth

‘For some reason, I had made up my mind, and I succeeded for the first time in a long time.’

When she started: “I began the program in early February 2021,” Marilyn Dryden said. “I reached my goal in June 2021.”

Age: 69

Personal life: “I am a retired educational administrator,” Dryden said. “I retired in 2017 after 40 years.” She lives in Acworth.

The lifestyle change: “In January of 2021, after the horrible COVID year, and after I had a hip replacement earlier that previous year, I looked at the scales and I was heavier than I had been in a while,” Dryden said. “I retired in 2017 after 40 years — I think that is when the weight began slipping upward. I have battled weight my whole life, though. I did some research and actually saw something in the paper about the LockedIN Wellness group ( I decided to give it a try. Early February I had my first appointment with Nancy Masoud, a metabolic specialist.

Change in eating habits: “My biggest changes were related to junk food. I loved chips and cookies. I would eat aimlessly without even thinking,” Dryden said. “With the new diet, I had a prescribed list of foods I could have. I stuck to those lists, and soon my cravings seemed to be less. I began cooking more. I looked for vegetables that were on the list. When I would visit friends, I would take my food with me when I could. For some reason, I had made up my mind, and I succeeded for the first time in a long time.”

Marilyn’s steps to change:

1. Making the decision: “The first step was making the decision to join the LockedIN Wellness group.”

2. Drop the junk: “The second step would have to be clearing all the junk food out of my home.”

3. Start cooking: “I had to start cooking, which I didn’t do a lot of. I had my list, my scales to weigh the portions, and I kept a daily log of my food. ... I kept trying and eventually the weight would continue coming off of me.”

Exercise routine: “I go to the gym three times each week,” Dryden said. “I used my benefits with a program called Silver Sneakers to join the gym. My health insurance pays for the membership, but I then hired a personal trainer. One day we do upper body, the next is lower body, and the third day is a combination. We use free weights but also the machines. Then we do core exercises every session. Then he does a 10-minute stretch of all muscle groups — that part is wonderful.”

Biggest challenge: “Maintenance went fairly well. I kept the weight off for several months. Then I went through some personal problems, and my emotional eating habits kicked in,” Dryden said. “I finally caught myself about December. I was 10 pounds heavier, but once again I decided to do better. Over the next six or seven months, I started going to the gym and went back to my healthier eating habits.”

Marilyn’s top tips:

1. Do some self-talk: “Clarify your goals to yourself.”

2. Set a 30-day challenge: “Promise yourself you won’t cheat at all for 30 days.”

3. Stick to a plan: After completing the 30-day challenge, “by then, you can start to see some results which will help you stick to a plan.”

How has her life changed: “I haven’t been at this weight since my teens. I’m just trying to maintain now. I don’t want to lose any more, but I do want to continue going to the gym and continue eating the healthier foods I’ve come to enjoy,” Dryden said. “I feel better than I have in a long time. I’m walking more. I’m enjoying the gym. My body does not hurt as much. I think the diet is designed to help with inflammation and pain. It did for me.”

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: