MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — When Theresa Borwaski was an eighth grade cheerleader, she weighed 194 pounds.
The 5-foot-8-inch Borwaski is now 49 and before she began her weight loss program, she weighed 428 pounds.
"I was at the point of selling my home and moving into assisted living," the retention adviser at Mid Michigan Community College said.
Suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis as well as asthma, Borwaski of Lake, made use of a wheel chair and walker.
Now weighing in at 173 pounds, she no longer needs either one and her asthma has significantly improved. An inhaler sits at the bottom of her purse, unused. Medicine that she used to take for cholesterol and high blood pressure is almost a thing of the past, as are pain killers.
Growing up in South Rockwood, Borawski's parents died young. Fortunately, all of her grandparents were still living and one of her grandmothers favored Borwaski, always letting her know that she was praying for her.
But she too eventually died and at the funeral, a cousin said to her, "Who's going to pray for you now?"
"My first thought was, "I'm going to walk," Borwaski said.
Not long after, her sister told her she was having bariatric surgery, something Borwaski was against and concerned about, along with perhaps, a little sisterly rivalry. But her sister said she was going to have it done anyway.
Borwaski's first thought then was, "I'll show her!"
A short time later, during a doctor's visit, her physician explained that he had done all he could for her arthritis. He had tried everything, but nothing seemed to help.
"If he can't do anything for me, then maybe I need to do something," she said.
Whether it was her grandmother, her sister, or the doctor or a combination of all three and her own "bullheadedness" that provided the final impetus for a weight loss, Borwaski isn't sure. But the first thing she did was to look in her refrigerator and find the two liter bottles of Faygo that she drank every day. They had 900 calories each.
"I just dumped them out," she said.
About a week later she visited her regular doctor and learned she had lost about 10 pounds.
"That was easy," she said. "Maybe if I take the sugar out of my coffee ..."
And so it began.
"Since March 1, 2011, I have not had an M&M, a pretzel, a chip, not a cookie, or ice cream," she said.
"I have one slice of pizza every other month," she said. "I've lived through Thanksgiving and Christmas. In my (large, extended) family, all we do is eat."
She does drink about two gallons of water a day, including Crystal Light.
Christmas a year ago was the last time she used her walker with wheels.
"This has been so liberating, I don't know who I am anymore," she said, adding, "I don't know how to shop."
Amazed to find herself in a clothing store that sold size 12s, 14s and 16s — the clothes fit — she also walked into a "fat lady store," only to be told they had nothing for her, unless she was looking for a gift for someone else.
Borawski does have excess skin and her shoe size went down a full size and a half. Even her jewelry is too big, or, she doesn't need two extenders for necklaces as she did previously.
Boots that were new last year are still sitting in the closet. Then, she had to struggle to zip them up. Now, they're too big to wear.
She said she's been reluctant to talk about her weight loss regimen because it's surprised her as much as anyone. And it's her very own method.
"I ddn't join Weight Watchers, I didn't take Slim Fast," she said. And, eating three meals a day, she's not hungry and never has been.
When she embarked upon her weight loss, she didn't even tell her doctor. When he saw her again after several months, he didn't recognize her.
"Theresa?" he asked.
Information from: Morning Sun, http://www.themorningsun.com/