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AFTER PHOTO COURTESY OF TERRY BONHAM PHOTOGRAPHY Ashamed No More: Cathy Emerges Triumphant After Weight Loss BEFORE photo courtesy of member By N. Marie Dries Talk to Cathy Langley today, and you would never guess that this vivacious woman was once a self-described hermit. "At nearly 400 pounds, I had no self-esteem and so many health problems," she says, recalling years of loneliness as she hid in her house, rarely leaving the bedroom. "I was just living to die." Members of her family had always struggled with weight issues, and as a child Cathy was on the heavy side. But, her mother assured her, she was beautiful inside and out. Those kind words helped Cathy cope with the pain of being teased and left out at school. "Mom was my best friend," she recalls. At only 11 years old, Cathy lost her mother to obesityrelated illness. Suddenly, she was left without a champion. "I had no love, support, knowledge or guidance," Cathy says. "I was lost and lonely, and I found comfort in food." Cathy's weight climbed throughout her teens and into adulthood. She married, had two children, and held jobs—but her weight continued to hold her back personally, professionally and socially. She was especially hurt by insensitive comments from other people. "I got tired of the criticism, ridicule and negativity," she says. Even physicians were judgmental. Cathy remembers one who refused to give her a physical because of her size. That humiliating experience caused her to stop visiting doctors for years. Then, in 2009, Cathy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and told she must have gastric bypass surgery to lose weight and reduce estrogen in her system. Stunned, she struggled through months of preparations only to cancel the procedure at the last minute. "I kept thinking, 'This is not a quick fix,'" she says. "I prayed about it and finally realized that my mind was not set on it." Frightened and aware of the need for immediate action, Cathy prayed even more. "Out of the blue, I remembered that my mother had gone to TOPS," she says. She searched 40 HEALTHY & ACTIVE 2014 cathy langley Lost 142.75 lb. With TOPS online, located a nearby chapter, and committed to attending the next meeting—with reservations. "I didn't tell anyone I was going, because I didn't want to set myself up for failure," she says, admitting that she also feared being shamed yet again. What Cathy found at the TOPS chapter (TOPS AZ 0467 Surprise) changed her life and her perspective. She was embraced by chapter members, who urged her to set realistic weight and activity goals and supported her every step of the way. Once she recognized that her emotions triggered overeating, she found better ways to manage stress and her diet. She also learned to appreciate "no-scale victories" like looser clothing. With each small triumph, Cathy emerged more and more from her shell. "I decided that I am not going to be ashamed anymore," she says. "I am not going to hide. If people don't want to accept me—well, I have too much to lose to risk failure."

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