Weight is Over – Viki Twyman: ‘It’s Never Too Late to Make a Change and Get Healthy’

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Q: Viki Twyman, welcome to A News Cafe.com for this week’s The Weight is Over. I was intrigued by your recent Facebook comment where you basically said that you decided you wanted to be healthy, so you created a fitness and weight-loss program that appears to have had great success. So, congratulations for that. I know it’s not easy.

But before we get to the weight-loss and fitness part, can you tell a bit about yourself?

I have lived in Redding most of my life (since I was 6) and grew up out near Keswick, along the river. I have been married to my husband Dave for 34 years. We have five grown children and seven grandchildren. I worked for the City of Redding for 22 years and retired about 10 years ago. After retiring, I was finally able to delve into my artistic side and have been having a blast.

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Viki Twyman, left, in her before photo.

I am now a resident artist at Altered Wing Studio, where I get to use my metalsmith skills to create jewelry. I also co-own a business called Rustic Hinge with my friend Ginger Mallard. We create unique home decor and furniture out of recycled wood and other fun, funky, and rusty items.

Viki hard at work, before her health-and-fitness journey.

Viki hard at work, before her health-and-fitness journey.

We attend several antique/artisan shows a year selling our creations. I am also the owner/promoter of Mosaic Marketplace – a vintage Christmas Shopping Event. I hold the show at Big League Dreams the first weekend of December. We decorate the indoor pavilion to be a beautiful vintage holiday marketplace, and I must say, we have the most amazing vendors!!!

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Q: Thanks, Viki. You may officially be the busiest person I know. Now, let’s talk about health, weight and fitness. What’s your weight-and-fitness history, in a nutshell?

I was fortunate as a child and a young adult that I did not struggle with being overweight. In fact, I had the opposite issue. I was extremely skinny and always wanted to gain weight because I was teased so much for being a “toothpick”. Well, all of that changed after I had my first child. I still was not what most people would consider overweight, but to me, I was huge. I didn’t worry about it too much until after my fourth child was born, and that is when I started trying to do something about it.

I have joined so many gyms, but hardly ever went. I tried at-home exercising, and that never worked. The biggest issue with me was that I wasn’t willing to change my eating habits. I had always been able to eat anything I wanted and not gain weight, and by gosh I wanted to eat what I wanted to eat!

I tried several times to diet, but it never lasted and I always had an excuse for not getting to the gym.

Q: What was the impetus at the first of the year for you to “do” something?

What spurred me the most was the fact that I was losing my muscle strength. I have always prided myself on being a physically strong woman, and I was losing that.

Viki Twyman before photo

Viki in the blue, right, having fun with her family, but not happy with this photo.

I had trouble lifting things that should have not been a problem for me, I had trouble getting up out of a chair without pulling myself up, I was so stiff and hurt everywhere. I am turning 65 in August, and I just decided that this was not the kind of old woman I wanted to be! I want to continue to be physically active and feel as good as I possibly can.

Q: So, what did you do?

I joined a gym and signed up with a trainer, which by the way is the best thing I could have done. I go to Everyday Fitness on Athens Ave and my trainer’s name is Stacy. He keeps me on task and pushes me much farther than I would push myself. I can’t believe how much muscle strength I have gained back. He can also tell when I haven’t been eating right. I swear he is psychic! Evidently my muscles don’t work as well when I have been eating bad.

Q: First, as an aside, let me say that I just about fell out of my chair when you said you’ll be 65 next month. You look much younger. Really.

It sounds like you and I have a similar situation going on with a trainer, and I know for me, that’s been the key to my success. But one of the things I loved about your Facebook post is that you said you eat healthy about 85 – 90 percent of the time, yet you’re still losing weight. Can you give an example of how that works for you?

Yeah, I really tried to completely revamp my diet all at once, and that was a huge fail! So, I started making small changes. Most days I replace one meal with a healthy smoothie, and because the smoothie has fruit in it, the sweetness has really helped curb my cravings for sweets. I also started eating just protein and veggies for dinner, avoiding rice, pasta, potatoes, etc. I love pasta though, so I do have one pasta dish a month, and some days I will eat the rice or potatoes. I just don’t do it every day anymore. I do eat breakfast every morning. I switch between fruit and cereal and fruit and eggs. Sometimes I will even throw in a little bacon.

I have found that you really can eat what you like if you do it in moderation. I still eat ice cream a couple times a month and if we go to a party, I will have a piece of cake, and that works for me.

Q: I think you must have more will power than I do, because if I ate ice cream a couple of times a month I think I’d backslide. But that’s cool it works for you.

I also noticed on your Facebook page (God bless Facebook) you posted that you had a piece of cheesecake, and even took a photo of it. It’s almost as if you ate it, no apologies, and just told yourself you’d get back on the wagon the next day. How do you deal with, as you call it, “going off the deep end” with your diet from time to time?

I cherished that piece of cheesecake, and I did not feel even one bit guilty! I knew that I would work out a little harder the next week and make a couple of changes to my diet to make up for it. I have had some days when I fell back into my old eat- everything-because-I-was-stressed routine. To tell you the truth, I just go with it, knowing now that I will be OK the next day and I will work hard to make up for it.

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Q: Well, it’s working, because Viki, you look fantastic. Have you learned some diet tricks that you can share?

It can be so hard to break the habit of just grabbing something and popping it into your mouth, so now when I find myself starting to do that I stop and have a little talk with myself. I ask myself if I am really hungry for that, and usually the answer is no, so I don’t eat it. I also carry healthy snacks in my purse so I am not so tempted to grab something bad. I really think the biggest diet trick for me is to just let myself have something that I really love a few times a month. I love chai tea latte, and used to have one almost every day, now I might have one two or three times a month.

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge for you during these last months?

It has been putting myself first. That is so hard! There are so many things in a day that I think I should be doing that will keep me away from the gym, and I have had to really work on saying “no” — it will wait. I still struggle with my sugar addiction and I just take that one day at a time. I am way better with it than I was six months ago, but it is still a struggle.

Q: Well, Viki, considering all the jobs you have, and how involved you are, no wonder you’ve struggled with putting yourself first. But that is key, and I know that for me, blocking out my exercise time as non-negotiable is the only way I’ve succeeded. I’ve even changed vacation days to accommodate my workouts. They’re not optional, but mandatory.

OK, I saved the best for last: How have you changed since you started this program the first of the year?

My weight went from 172 to 145, and I went from a size 14 to a size 8.

But oh my gosh, I have sooooooo much more energy and I FEEL good! I can get up out of a chair now with no problem. I don’t have to stand in one spot for awhile when I first stand up before I can start walking. I am mentally more alert and I feel happier. The best thing of all is that I have my muscle strength back.

Wearing a smaller size is great too, but the health benefits are what make me excited.

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Q: Those are super dramatic results Viki. Good for you. So, any surprises about his journey to health and fitness?

I guess I am surprised at myself, that I have actually been able to stick with it this time and that I am actually enjoying it.

Q: I hope you are proud of yourself, Viki, because you’re an inspiration, for sure. You’ve been so generous to share your story with us. It’s not easy, and it takes courage, so I thank you for that.

Before we go, any tips for others – especially fellow junk food junkies, who want to lose weight and be healthy?

Number one – sign up with a trainer. That will be the best investment you will ever make in yourself. Also, don’t try to make severe and drastic changes to your diet; it just makes it too hard. Allow yourself to have foods that you love, just limit them. Be active!

Q: Thanks so much, Viki. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

It really is never to late to make a change and get healthy. You will be so happy and proud of yourself. And, don’t beat yourself up if you take a step back, just start stepping forward again. If you move forward more than you move back you will be just fine.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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