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Found a slow, steady and sustainable way to lose weight

Megan Steeber, 35 Pounds lost: 170

Her home scale, which went up to 340 pounds, read E for error. So Megan Steeber went shopping for a new one.

It was at Bed, Bath & Beyond where she had one of those “dumb aha moments,” she said. She should not simply buy a new scale and watch her weight continue to rise. She should lose weight and use her old scale to track her progress.

Not that she hadn’t tried before. A “relentless snacker” and heavy since childhood, Steeber’s weight had gone up and down as she sampled various diets. One had her living on as few as 500 calories a day.

A diet like that can be effective in the short term, Steeber said, but “then you realize it’s not very sustainable.”

Depressed and reluctant to leave her home – “Why go outside if people are going to stare at me?” – Steeber knew she needed not a diet, but a sustainable plan that would let her address the emotional aspects of her weight, too.

At 345 pounds, she said, “there’s more going on than just too many chips.”

Walking into her first Weight Watchers meeting, on Jan. 11, 2011, was difficult. She was the biggest person in the room. Learning to choose healthy foods and control her portion sizes remained challenging for a couple of months.

But Steeber, who works in the training department at the energy-management company Ecova, figured out how to make it work. She learned she could still eat jalepeño poppers, but to make her own instead of deep-frying the fat-filled, processed kind. She learned to eat light before going out for a special dinner.

The people at her weight-loss meetings provided support. After Steeber lost 100 pounds, it began to sink in: “OK, this is working.”

Averaging a little more than a pound a week, she’s lost 170 pounds, with 20 more to go.

Steeber got treatment for a thyroid condition that was contributing to her low moods and low energy. But exercise – and the time alone she spends getting it, “an hour to think and be quiet” – has improved her mental health, too.

She started by playing Wii games with her children – Jon, now 11, and Elsie, 4. She started walking, slowly and for short distances. Then she started running. In May, she finished the Windermere Half-Marathon. She’s looking ahead to the Spokane Marathon in October.

To not be 345 pounds still takes her by surprise sometimes. She can climb a ladder or sit in a lawnchair without fearing she’ll break them.

Steeber said still sees herself, thinks of herself, at her old size. For a reality check, she looks at, a collection of photos submitted by women of various shapes and sizes.

And this reality is still sinking in: She can pull clothes, in a size 8, off a rack and they fit.

“It’s astounding,” she said.