It has been two years since a Lake Charles woman's world came crashing down. In a period of four months, her husband left her, she became homeless and her son was shot to death.
At that time, Freeda Beloney weighed 415 pounds, but now she is transforming her body, mind and spirit.
A bright-eyed Freeda Beloney at age four could have never imagined the twists her life would take, including a weight struggle that started in her 20s. "It was gradual, but I never noticed I was putting it on until one day I just looked in the mirror and my eyes were really opened," she said.
Standing at 5'1", a weight of 415 pounds became life-threatening for Freeda, who says food was her first love. "It seemed to be always there when I needed someone and knew someone couldn't be there," she said, "that food was there, it was there all the time and so it became a comfort for me."
The food could not comfort Freeda, though, during the shockwaves of 2011: A failed marriage, homelessness and the shooting death of her son. "The moment I lost my son I knew I had to go on," she said, "I had to do it one day at a time, one moment at a time."
Church friends took Freeda in and she slowly started to change her eating habits while getting moving. "When I first started, I could just do steps," she said, "walk a little bit and then I sat down, but I knew I had to get moving."
That moving is paying off for Freeda, who is now part of the K.I.S.S. Project - Keep it Simple Sister - a free weight loss program through the Partnership for a Healthier Southwest Louisiana and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Dare to be Healthy grant. "We want to get them jumpstarted so they can find different things, simple things to do and continue living a healthy lifestyle," said group fitness instructor Sharmita Rideau.
Rideau leads the 12-week program teaching fitness, nutrition, goal-setting and life change. "I just want them to really love exercising and love eating healthy," she said, "so that's my hope is just for them to continue this on for a lifestyle."
That is exactly what Freeda plans to do. She is now studying nursing at SOWELA Technical Community College, has a place of her own, two grown kids she loves, and is half-way there to meeting her 200 pound weight loss goal. "Today I'm 100 pounds lighter and I'm gonna keep on doing it one step at a time, one day at a time, one moment at a time," she said, "you have to do it for today."
7News will be checking in with Freeda every month through 2013 to see her progress and keep you up-to-date on free programs to combat obesity in Southwest Louisiana.
The K.I.S.S. Project heads to Iowa later this summer.
There are openings for the morning group in Lake Charles that meets Monday through Friday. Click here for registration information.
For more details on how the Partnership for a Healthier Southwest Louisiana is helping the community shape up for free, click here.