BY COSHANDRA DILLARD
Last weekend, Michelle Kincaide, 36, was among the 11 East Texans recognized with an inspiration award during the Lighten Up and Play event. It was a culmination of a months-long regional contest hosted by the Fit City Challenge Coalition, which encouraged participants to lose at least 5 percent of their body weight.
By the time the challenge began in November, Mrs. Kincaide already was on her way to success. Within the past year, she's lost 90 pounds. She said by the end of the year, she hopes to lose the last 40 pounds.
With years of yo-yo dieting, Mrs. Kincaide was depressed, shy and too embarrassed to meet new people. But today, she's loves her new life with nearly one-third of her body weight gone.
Mrs. Kincaide's weight-loss journey kicked off with a Jazzercise class. At 290 pounds, it was difficult because her body was unconditioned. Nonetheless, she kept at it.
"(I) could hardly walk around our block, play with my kids, or make it through 10 to 15 minutes of a group exercise," she said.
By November, she weighed 220 pounds, going from a size 26 to a 16. She was doing a boot camp three times a week, Jazzercise three to four times a week and walking and running regularly.
"I hardly recognize myself and my abilities anymore," she said. "I ran my first 5K — the Color Run in Dallas back in April — a major accomplishment for this once fatty. It has helped my self-esteem and how I view myself."
Exercise is only part of the weight-loss equation. When Mrs. Kincaide signed up for a weight-loss program in Longview, she learned also how to eat properly.
"It wasn't one of those programs where you give them $100 a month and they give you a list of foods to eat," she said. My coach "really taught me why we should eat certain foods, what combination of foods benefit our bodies, and she was my personal trainer for about one year."
She gave up the 64-ounce-Dr-Pepper-a-day habit in exchange for water. Instead of candy bars, she opted for fruit. She also logged everything she ate, good or bad.
In the past, she'd been on every imaginable diet.
She said she lost weight on all of them, but it didn't stay off.
"I was frustrated, depressed and just knew that this was going to be my life," she said. "I was 35, and it was just too late for me."
The road to wellness has not been easy and will continue to be a challenge. In fact, it took several months for the mother of two who used to smoke to "get seriously on board."
"I used to always think that quitting smoking was the hardest thing ever but quickly learned that losing weight and becoming healthier is the hardest thing," she said. "I've realized it will be an ongoing thing and a change in lifestyle not a diet. Anytime someone says, ‘What diet are you on?' I tell them, ‘The last diet I was on was two years ago. All I do is change my eating and stay active.' They look at me like I'm lying."
With all that she's learned, now it's time to pay it forward. Mrs. Kincaide wants to become a certified Jazzercise instructor and help others in their weight loss endeavor. She's also mulled the idea of becoming a certified personal trainer or nutritionist.