BY STEPHANIE NAVARRO (Special to the Morning News)
Marie Venable had a very good 2014. She participated in the inaugural Florence’s Biggest Loser program, losing 20 lbs and finishing in 14th place last April. December marked five years since she first found out she had breast cancer and she was officially declared cancer free.
After such a great year, Venable’s husband didn’t know what Christmas present could compare to these milestones. When asked what she wanted, Venable knew exactly what to say.
“I told him that I wanted to do Biggest Loser again,” Venable said. “I had such a good time the first time and lost weight that I wanted to continue.”
Venable was glad to have her sister Wendy Bird, vice president of campaigns at United Way of Florence County, join her this year.
“I really wanted to see her participate, to get that spark and to keep it,” Venable said. “I’m the oldest and, in many ways, I’m like a mom to Wendy, because our mom passed away when she was 16. Because of that, I worry about her probably more than other sisters would.”
During this year’s program, the sisters have worked out together with McLeod Health & Fitness trainer Dustin McRae.
“We have so much fun in our group,” Venable said. “We laugh the whole time and mess with Dustin. But we also get a great workout. Dustin plans great activities, and he’s very good about letting us adjust the workouts.”
Because of her cancer treatment, Venable knew she had to be careful about her workouts.
“After chemo, I gained a lot of weight that I wanted to get off, but chemo can damage your heart, so I was afraid to try to work out on my own without really knowing what to do,” Venable said. “Immediately, I felt comfortable at McLeod. My trainer last year was Preston, and he was always checking in with me. He taught me a lot about working out.”
Venable knew she had been successful in the program when her oncologist commended her on her weight loss during a check-in.
“He didn’t know I had done the program, so when he read my chart, he said, ‘Wow! What have we been doing?’ I told him all about Biggest Loser and how I had learned to stop overeating and to exercise more.”
Venable said her success last year motivated her to join again this year.
“I want to keep losing, and I know there’s always more to learn,” Venable said. “This year, I’ve learned that I’m not eating enough throughout the day to boost my metabolism, so I’ve changed that.”
Venable plans to continue her healthy lifestyle journey past the program.
“But I’ll join again next year,” Venable said. “That sounds like a bad thing, like I’m going to need to restart after gaining everything back, but it’s actually because I want to do better each year. The group is supportive; we share ideas. We’re all doing it together, and that’s why I like it. I think that’s why it works.”
Read the story at SCNOW.com!