LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - You don't have to look far to see evidence of the obesity epidemic in America. Two-thirds - that's more than 190 million Americans are overweight or obese. That's why KPLC is bringing you a series of special Healthcasts throughout the month of February introducing you to some of Southwest Louisiana's "biggest losers," who've found victory in the weight loss battle.
24-year-old Alicia Herndon cannot recall a time that she's been in a "normal weight range." "I was chubby for my age," she says, "probably starting around five or six."
Looking through old pictures, Alicia can track her weight gain from childhood through her early adult years. "I didn't care," says Alicia, "I didn't watch what I ate, I never counted calories. I just ate what I felt like, when I felt like it."
Years of this mentality caught up with Alicia by the time she weighed in at 325 pounds as a student at McNeese State University. "I never realized how big I was," she says, "and looking back on pictures now, I'm like...did I really look like that?'"
What Alicia does remember, though, is the tragic event that changed her course in the spring of 2008. "My mom died of a heart attack," says Alicia, "she was a heavier woman and it concerned me, when that kind of stuff runs in the family, especially early heart attacks. I didn't want to be big forever."
Alicia decided to get serious about losing weight and gaining more days of life. "I knew that I needed to start exercising and cut back on what I was eating," says Alicia, "because I was determined at that point to change."
Junk food and sodas were thrown out as Alicia stuck to a strict 1,000 calorie meal plan and exercise routine - with 30 minutes of cardio followed by weight training at least three days a week. "I wanted it and I did it!" she says.
155 pounds lighter, Alicia definitely did it on her own and even inspired her husband, Shawn, to shape up as well - now 40 pounds slimmer than this time last year. "The longer you wait, the harder it gets," says Shawn, "the more responsibilities you have and there's no reason to wait. Do it now, life is too short."
As this couple looks to their future together, they know that good health will give them more time to enjoy life's little pleasures. "It's worth it," says Alicia, "food is definitely not worth the expense of what it costs you when you're overweight."
*If you have your own weight loss success story, we want to know about it! Click here to share with other readers and viewers.
**This week we recognize Daphne Mosely who has gone from a size 18 to a 12 thanks to a four month Biggest Loser competition at her job and group fitness classes a few times a week.