Featured in 5th Annual USA Today Weight-Loss Challenge
B.A., Church Music (Vocal Emphasis), Mississippi College, Clinton, MS
Heather Burczynski: Healthy Choice
By Mimi Elliott
The 700 Club
PORTION CONTROL AND EXERCISE
Heather Burczynski, 32, was always chubby growing up. She grew up in a Southern Baptist home where her parents were big on missions.
“We didn’t throw anything away,” Heather said.
She also watched her grandmother eat a lot of junk food and thought she could do the same. She was never active during childhood, and despite the teasing from her classmates, Heather did nothing about her weight.
“Honestly, the teasing never bothered me,” she said. As an adult, Heather ate out a lot.
“Portion sizes are ridiculous when you eat out,” Heather said. For breakfast, she would consume a quesadilla. For lunch, she would graze the Chinese buffet several times. And for dinner, if she had Mexican food, Heather would consume several baskets of chips. At her heaviest, Heather says she weighed more than 280 pounds.
In October 2004, after her nephew was born, Heather was motivated to lose weight.
“I looked at him and was overwhelmed by the love I had for him. I decided to make a life change,” Heather said. “I didn’t want him to know me as a heavy person.”
Heather’s office in Nashville is next door to a YMCA.
“I was too scared to go in,” she said. The first time she got enough nerve to go in, Heather said she felt like everyone was staring at her.
“But they weren’t,” she said. “I relied on God’s strength to help me step into that gym.” She started walking on the treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes a day, and after a few months, Heather was up to 60 minutes! As she began to lose weight with exercise, Heather started eating smaller portions of her meals.
“I never really gave anything up,” Heather said. Instead of going out to eat, Heather cooks her own meals or brings her lunch to work. In her first year, Heather lost 80 pounds. The second year, she started strength training and dropped another 20. She hit a plateau and started following Weight Watchers. Today, she has lost a total of 130 pounds.
Heather, now 148 pounds, still does one hour of exercise a day, six days a week. She started running, also uses the elliptical and added weight training to her routine.
“The best thing for me was never having set a goal,” Heather said. “Instead, I decided that being healthy was my choice.” Heather is now a size 8/10. Her resting heart rate has gone from 85 to 48.
“I want to get down to 140 pounds, which will be exactly 50% weight loss!” Heather said. Most importantly, Heather stays away from restaurants.
In 2007, Heather’s weight loss inspired her best friend, Ronda O’Boyle, 43, of Gainesville, Fla., who has dropped 47 pounds since January 2007. Her boss saw the advertisement in USA Today for an annual weight-loss contest and encouraged Heather to submit her story. She was featured in the fifth annual USA Today Weight-Loss Challenge.
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