One Day At a Time


A loving wife and mother keeps her commitment to fitness and loses 82 lb!

Making a commitment to lose weight is easy. Keeping the commitment is the hard part. When Tanya McDowall learned to keep her commitment to lose weight, she transformed her body and her life.

Just two weeks after her mom’s 50th birthday, Tanya lost her to cancer. Tanya’s mom had struggled with obesity her entire adult life. “It was ultimately a contributing cause to her cancer and a debilitating factor when battling it,” says Tanya. At that point, Tanya came to the terrifying realization that she was heading down the same path. So she made a commitment to herself to lead a healthy lifestyle.

The Breaking Point

As a wife and mother of two, Tanya was seemingly happy, but something wasn’t right. While tucking her youngest son in to bed one night, he asked, “Mommy, you’re never going to leave, are you?” She told him, “Of course, Mommy’s never going to leave.” Then she began to cry. It had been 12 years since her mom had passed, and while that tragedy led her to make a commitment to lead a healthy life, Tanya was now over 200 lb.

She had let herself down. She vowed to keep her weight-loss commitment this time for herself and her family.

Putting Family Over Food

“Food was my ‘feel good,’ and I would take comfort in it whenever I could,” says Tanya.

While food was her security blanket, her love for her family was stronger. A feeling of pride grew in her as she worked toward her goal. She began to feel better as a mom, teaching her kids healthy habits while implementing them in her own daily routine. The most important thing for Tanya to learn was to be patient with herself and consistent with her diet, especially during the first two weeks.

“The weight didn’t go on overnight,” she says. “It wasn’t going to come off overnight.”

By making healthy changes to her diet and adding daily exercise to her routine, she lost 82 lb, going from 217 down to 135. No longer is she embarrassed and frustrated with her appearance. She feels happy, balanced and confident.

“Before, I was a whirlwind of unpleasantness, and it hurt my relationship with my husband and kids,” she explains. “I know they are excited to have a wife and mom who they can go roller blading, hiking, biking, skiing and swimming with. Now, I can even go skydiving, which I was over the weight limit for in the past!”

Her new fitness lifestyle has generated a number of little victories that have enlarged her possibilities. “I can now run a 5k, whereas before I couldn’t run to the end of the block and back.”

Tanya’s Workout Tips

  1. Just get moving! Go for a walk, take the stairs, pace while you’re talking on the phone—do anything but sit.
  2. Do activities that involve the whole family. Go on treasure hunts, bike rides, hiking, Wii sports—anything to get moving.
  3. Do activities you enjoy. Choose exercises that fit your lifestyle, so you won’t make excuses not to do them.

Sample Daily Menu

Small meals that are high in protein and low in carbs help Tanya to feel her best.

  • 8 a.m.: protein shake
  • 11 a.m.: snack (cheese, nuts or turkey pepperoni)
  • 1 p.m.: omelet
  • 3 p.m.: snack (cheese, nuts or turkey pepperoni)
  • 6:30 p.m.: chicken/steak (with broth-based sauce) and lots of vegetables (e.g., zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli; just no potatoes)
  • 9 p.m.: pistachios (small bowl)

For more about Tanya, visit


Kim Lyons, NASM CPT, PES, CES and Prenatal Specialist, is an internationally known fitness trainer who worked on “The Biggest Loser.” For more information about Kim, visit

 Image courtesy of Tanya McDowall.