Joan Rockwell, 74, of Marietta lost 33 pounds

In the photo on the left, taken in August, Joan Rockwell weighed 172 pounds. In the photo on the right, taken this month, she weighed 137 pounds. (Photos contributed by Joan Rockwell)

SUCCESS STORY / Joan Rockwell, 74: From 170 pounds to 137 pounds

Former weight: 170 pounds

Current weight: 137 pounds

Pounds lost: 33 pounds

Height: 5 feet 4 inches

Age: 74 years

How long she's kept it off: She started Jan. 1 and reached her current weight this month.

Personal life: "I'm a retired health and physical education teacher. I worked with Marietta City Schools for 26 years," Rockwell said. "… Three years ago, my husband died, and we had been married for 48 years. We have two children, a son and a daughter, and five wonderful grandchildren. Since retiring nine years ago, I've been taking art lessons, and I also teach beginning acrylics to a group of seniors in Marietta. Although I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma 17 years ago, I have never had any treatment or further symptoms. Somehow, I think that my exercising and healthy eating has attributed to this spontaneous remission, even though my weight was higher than ideal."

Turning point: "I've always been active and at the gym about four times a week. Quite often my choices in food and portion control were not what they should be. Like so many others, I had lost weight previously but would return to my old habits and gain a lot of it back," Rockwell said. "… In November, I saw a Facebook posting of a new session of Sparkle Wellness, with wellness coach Jacynta Harb, that was starting in January. I decided it was time to take the plunge and commit to doing it right this time."

Diet plan: "I've always had a sweet tooth and really enjoyed my desserts," Rockwell said. "However, since joining Sparkle and (separate from Sparkle) reading Dr. Mark Hyman's book, 'Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?' I've eliminated sugar, processed foods and white stuff — and I don't even miss any of it."

Exercise routine: "My sister and I always did all of the Down and Dirty Mud Runs and Warrior Dashes for about five years. I was a runner for years and even completed in two marathons in one year," Rockwell said. "Unfortunately, I ended up having three total knee replacements. … Four years ago, I had both knees replaced, but I can still walk and hike with no pain." She walks at least 6 miles daily with a goal of 25,000 steps.

Biggest challenge: "Portion control is one of my struggles," Rockwell said. "It's easy to forget that the sugar and calories in fruit are still calories that add up quickly. Also, getting all of my water requirements in and giving up late-night snacking are still challenging."

How life has changed: "I've noticed such a difference in my energy and stamina. … My increased endurance has given me the incentive to go for 10 miles on my birthday in June," Rockwell said. "… I know that this is not a one-time project, but a journey and a way of life."

Share Your Success: Each week, Success Stories focuses on an individual’s unique weight loss journey. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not endorse any specific weight loss program but includes names and links for the benefit of readers who want further information. Have you lost weight successfully with a healthy lifestyle change? If you would like to share your story with our readers, please include your email address, phone number, and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG), and contact us at: Success Stories, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 223 Perimeter Center Parkway, Atlanta, GA, 30346-1301; or email Michelle C. Brooks, ajcsuccessstories@gmail.com.