In the photo on the left, taken in 2012, Karen Ethridge weighed 230 pounds. In the photo on the right, taken on New Year’s Eve, she weighed 141 pounds. (All photos contributed by Karen Ethridge)

Karen Ethridge, 52, of McDonough lost 98 pounds

SUCCESS STORY / Karen Ethridge, 52: From 239 pounds to 141 pounds

Former weight: 239 pounds

Current weight: 141 pounds

Pounds lost: 98 pounds

Height: 5 feet 3 inches

Age: 52 years

How long she’s kept it off: “I started Weight Watchers in 2015,” said Ethridge, who reached her goal in 2017. “It took about two years to get the weight off, but I’d rather be slow and steady rather than so rapid I cannot sustain it.”

Personal life: “I’m a mom to three adult children. My husband passed away 14 years ago due to cancer,” Ethridge said. “I teach voice and piano lessons.” She works as a para-pro while also currently earning her bachelor’s degree and lives in McDonough.

Turning point: “I had surgery in 2014. After the surgery, the doctor basically told me if you don’t get this weight off, I will see you again in a year. I cried when he told me that. I didn’t know how to get myself out of this cycle,” Ethridge said. “… Fast-forward to 2015: I still had not changed a lot of my eating habits even though the doctor told me that it hurt me, but it didn’t stop me. In 2015, I gave up eating sugar, I just gave it up because I knew for me I was using it like a drug. I was absolutely addicted to it.” That same year, her health insurance changed. She discovered her BMI was “through the roof,” and through Humana Go365, a wellness and rewards program, she was offered Weight Watchers free of charge for six months — she figured she had nothing to lose but weight. “They invested in me about $250,” she said, “but they saved a lot more money than that with things I don’t have today such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”

Diet plan: Breakfast is rice cakes with peanut butter, a banana and coffee. Lunch is a salad, and dinner is meat with vegetables. She enjoys an occasional slice of pizza.

Exercise routine: “I walk about three times per week for 15 to 30 minutes,” she said. “I do try to walk at school on the playground when I am not playing with them, we have a sidewalk perimeter.”

Biggest challenge: “One of my biggest challenges was beating myself up when I would have a weight gain on the journey,” Ethridge said. “I would have to redirect this thing in my mind; the Weight Watchers family would help me.”

How life has changed: “Now I have an inward confidence that I can do anything. I do feel younger than I did in my 40s when I was so heavy. … You’ve got to develop something in you that self-manages, you’ve got to know how to handle that. For me, how I manage myself: I have to have quiet time with the Lord. … Do things that you enjoy doing whether heavy or not because happier people make better decisions. If you enjoy your life, you are naturally going to make better decisions. Never give up. Don’t let setbacks set you back.”

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