Glenda Dilbert-Davis saw her entry into Cayman’s annual War on Weight challenge as a way to change to her life.
Now, more than a month after she was announced the winner of the competition, having lost 35.5 pounds and 16.8 per cent of her body weight, she continues to work out almost every day and has completely altered how and what she eats.
Her impetus for entering the contest was growing health issues and stomach problems. “I got to the point where I felt so unhappy – I was unhealthy and bloated all the time. I was just miserable. I knew it was time to do something,” she says.
The timing of her change in mindset was perfect as it coincided with a call from the Cayman Heart Fund for volunteers to take part in the War on Weight, or WOW as it is known, challenge.
“I saw the report in the newspaper and, in my desperation, I thought it would be an avenue for me to reform myself and improve my health,” says Dilbert-Davis.
She threw herself into the challenge with gusto, attending every nutrition class, and not missing a single one of the exercise sessions organised by the WOW committee. These included spinning classes, yoga, pilates, walking, gym workouts and a variety of other exercises.
One of the elements of the 10-person challenge that worked for Dilbert-Davis, she says, and one that she encourages other people battling with their weight to use, was a buddy system.
She paired up with fellow WOW participant Carmen Bell. That buddy system clearly worked for them because they came first and second in the competition, losing exactly the same amount of weight.
Dilbert-Davis won because she lost a higher percentage of her body weight than her partner in workouts.
“The buddy system really worked for me. I cannot go it alone, not for very long anyway… Although we were in a competition, we were never competitive with each other, we supported and helped and motivated one another,” says Dilbert-Davis, adding that the knowledge that one was waiting for the other at the gym or at a class forced them both to make sure they showed up.
The other lesson she has taken away from WOW is that dieting that cuts out certain food groups is not the best way to lose weight. “In no way was this a diet. It was a very balanced plan, and no food was off limits. It was all about portion control,” she says.
Under guidance from nutritionist Chad Collins, the participants ate six times a day, studied food labels to ensure they were getting all the nutrients they needed and avoiding empty calories and generally made healthy food choices.
“I ended up actually eating more food than before, but lost weight at the same time,” explains Dilbert-Davis.
Exercise played an important part in the weight-loss programme, with contestants working out at Body Sculptor five times a week, with two more optional workouts at weekends.
Getting to try out a range of new exercises was also a boon, because it meant the participants did not get bored doing the same workout over and over.
The WOW group lost a total of 168 pounds during the programme. Bell, in second place, lost 14.2 per cent of her body weight and in third place was Claudette Warren, who lost 13.7 per of her weight.
Dilbert-Davis has gone from being a self-professed couch potato to going to the gym nearly every day. “I’ve made exercise my lifestyle,” she says.
She maintained the same weight over the Christmas and New Year holidays and by mid-January had continued her weight loss, losing another three pounds.
And she does not intend to stop there.
Having already lost 35.5 pounds in the 16-week WOW challenge, the petite 5ft 3in-tall mother-of-two says she would like to lose another 30 to 35 pounds and to eventually reach her ideal weight of 140 pounds.
She admits, though, that the real challenge will be maintaining a healthy weight for the rest of her life. “If I go back to the way I was, to my old habits and sedentary lifestyle, I’ll end up going back to the weight I started at, or even bigger.”
The biggest highlight of the competition for her was meeting Patrick House, winner of NBC reality weight-loss show The Biggest Loser, who visited Cayman soon after his victory. He was a guest of honour at the dinner where the WOW winner was announced.
Dilbert-Davis now wants to pass on some of the knowledge and lessons about exercise and weight loss that she has learned on her path to fitness and well being. “I want to pay it forward,” she says, and she bubbles with ideas of how to do this.
“I want to help other women learn what I’ve learned. The WOW challenge was for 16 weeks, but this is a lifelong journey for me,” she says.