Making a Change (Part III)


local woman’s commitment to weight loss


anna paige


note: This is the final in a series of three articles chronicling

Billings resident Nicole Benge’s weight loss. For the last in our

three articles, Nicole and I discussed the changes in her life since

she began her weight loss journey 74 pounds ago.


has been the most rewarding change in your life?


When my 11-year-old told me how good I was doing and how proud he was

of me. A few days before I’d asked him about being in the (Simply

Family) articles to make sure it wouldn’t embarrass him, and he was

fine with it. A day or so after that, he told me how well I’d done

and he was glad I was happy. He’s 11 now and getting less

demonstrative with his emotion and telling me how he feels, so it was




has been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered during the



There are times when I don’t want to exercise with the cold, or

it’s late, but with my dogs I do not have a choice. They expect a

walk, so the challenge—more so than exercise—has been not

slipping back into old eating habits, especially around the holidays.



you become more aware of what you put in your body?


I spend an hour and a half walking and doing my strength training,

and I don’t want to undo all that pain with poor choices. You are

going through all that hard work, and only you can sabotage it. I

used to diet and cheat in secret, but the only one who was affected

was me.



was the easiest change?


Being consistent on the exercise has been easy for me. Habits change

hard in the beginning, but that part has gotten easier. At first I

was recording all my food. Your awareness of what you are eating goes




the beginning, how did you combat snacking?


You just unknowingly eat every day, a handful here, a handful there.

If you have your food planned out, you tell yourself, ‘I am going

to have a snack at this time.’ I know I used to put a lot of

calories in that I didn’t realize. They talk about cooks consuming

a lot when they cook, and my husband does the cooking, so I don’t

have that problem.



is the hardest change you had to make?


I’ve got a group of people I work with and we are all pretty close.

We used to all have lunch together almost every day. I don’t want

to miss out on that time with my friends, but at the same time I

don’t want to go eat a 1,000-calorie lunch.



was your solution?


Luckily, one of the guys I work with was trying to lose weight too,

and another had his cholesterol checked and needed to lower it, so we

were all headed down a healthier path. We could pick where we were

going to eat, and once we got there, you can order something that’s

appropriate. The challenge is to stick with what you should have

versus what you really want.



resources do you use to make healthy choices?


I keep an exercise journal and look up food items in “Calorie King:

Calorie Fat and Carbohydrate Counter.” Each eating establishment’s

menu items are broken down by the number of calories, carbs and fat

grams. It doesn’t have the whole menu, but a lot of restaurants

have their entire menus online. I’d decide what I was going to

order before I even got there. I did kind of decide that salads are

for suckers. Lettuce is mostly water; a lot of veggies are good, but

the dressing can really kill you.



find I get caught up in packaging. I buy a dressing that claims to

have 60 percent less fat than its regular counterpart, but then

again, I don’t read the label.


Exactly. Sixty percent less fat than what? Turn it over. I found a

vinaigrette I really like that has 30 calories per serving and no




other tips can you offer?


One other thing I’ve found useful is a subscription to Prevention

Magazine and Women’s Health. There are exercise tips in there, and

I’m reading that I need omega 3s and more vitamins and calcium.


know that seeing Dr. Basket made the difference for me- having a

sensible plan with sensible goals. I do think that whatever the

changes are they need to be ones that you think you can handle for

the rest of your life.



is the number one piece of advice you can give to people trying to

lose weight?


It’s every day and overall consistency. It’s what you choose to

eat day after day and how active you choose to be day after day that

matters. It is true that moderation is key and probably the only

thing that is sustainable.



do you think about where you are today compared to where you were?


I probably was in denial about where I was before. Obviously I knew I

was overweight, but I didn’t know I was that overweight. When I

looked in the mirror, I didn’t think that I looked that bad or felt

that bad.


certainly feel better in general. I have a lot more energy. I can sit

on the floor with the kids and it isn’t a big deal. I can stand

right back up. Small things like that.


motivation is that I am NOT going back to feeling and looking like I

did. I want to be healthy and feel good and be around and have fun

with my kids and if I get some compliments for how I look along the

way – well, what more can a girl ask for? SFM



is a freelance writer and journalist based in Billings and founder of

Pen and Paige, a marketing, editorial and promotional company.

Contact her at www.penandpaige.com.