Margaret deNeergaard , 63, of Marietta lost 34 pounds

Margaret deNeergaard , 63, of Marietta lost 34 pounds

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Margaret deNeergaard weighed 160 pounds in the photo on the left, which was taken Nov. 22, 2014, at her daughter’s wedding. (Photo contributed by Michael Leaver Photography, In the photo on the right, taken this month, deNeergaard weighed 134 pounds. (Photo contributed Margaret deNeergaard)

SUCCESS STORY / Margaret deNeergaard, 63: From 175 pounds to 134 pounds

Former weight: 175 pounds

Current weight: 134 pounds

Pounds lost: 41 pounds

Height: 5 feet 3 inches

Age: 63 years

How long she’s kept it off: She started in January 2016. “I reached my maintenance weight at the Aug. 8, 2016, weigh-in,” deNeergaard said. “I’ve kept the weight off for a year now.”

Personal life: “My husband, John, and I live in Marietta with our pup, a yellow Labrador, Gabby,” she said. “I am currently working as a web designer.”

Turning point: “I have been overweight for many years. I finally realized I was destroying myself with the way I was eating,” deNeergaard said. “I had a dream in which I told myself I was poisoning myself with sugar. It was such a strong dream it woke me up.” In January of 2016, she and her husband signed up for classes taught by wellness coach Jacynta Hab with Sparkle A New You.

Diet plan: “I am learning that a Mediterranean-style diet is the healthiest way for me to fuel my body and the food I most enjoy,” she said. Breakfast is a veggie omelet and coffee. She snacks on fruit. Lunch is chicken and vegetables or a salad. Dinner is chicken or fish and vegetables.

Exercise routine: “I really enjoy walking my dog. We walk about a mile and a half around the neighborhood each day,” deNeergaard said. “… Over time, I started adding back things I enjoyed as a younger person to my exercise routine. For instance, on Tuesdays I go to a Scottish dance class in Marietta. … On Wednesdays and Fridays, I swim about half a mile at the public pool in west Cobb.”

Biggest challenge: “There are a lot of challenges in a weight-loss journey; for me, the hardest part is mental. I was a stress eater,” deNeergaard said. “Of course, eating doesn’t really relieve the stress; it just distracts you for a moment. Planning is what makes the difference for me. If I know what I’m going to eat and have planned to have it available, then I don’t sabotage myself. I am really fortunate that my husband grills delicious chicken and vegetables on Sundays — enough for the whole week.”

How life has changed: “I am a different person — I am definitely more healthy and happy. I have different priorities, and I have gained a new confidence in myself. Life and health are precious. When I’m focused on being a healthy person and making good choices for myself, I’m successful. I’m not perfect, but I take it one day and one meal at a time. … Success builds more success. One saying that has meaning for me is: ‘Just show up.’ You don’t have to solve all your problems overnight. All you have to do is step up and give it a try. … I know now that I can do other things in my life that I never thought were possible — all I have to do is begin.”

Share Your Success: 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, a daytime 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,

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