Gail Bent has tried many ways and many times to lose weight since she was a teenager.
Bent, 67, who lives in Vacaville, Calif. with her husband of 48 years, John, went on the Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem programs and lost a lot of weight.
Then she would gain it back, plus more.
It took many years of weight loss and gains before it finally clicked for Bent, who lost 201 pounds in two years.
That was nine years ago. And shes kept the weight off ever since.
Bent visited the TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) CA 1743 chapter in Beaumont on March 19 to talk with the members about her struggles and her success with losing weight.
This is a lifestyle change, said Bent. Its not a diet.
Bent originally joined TOPS in 1962 at age 16 in Washington State. She lost 45 pounds and became the State Princess. But then she dropped out of the organization three years later.
Their ties to TOPS extend to her mom, June Jensen and grandmother Gladys Jensen and Johns mom, Marie Bent. In 1968, she tried losing weight with Weight Watchers. She had success, losing 140 pounds. But her mindset wasnt there and the weight came back on.
I let it go to my head, Bent told those who attended the Beaumont TOPS meeting. I said, Ive got it made.
She gained back the 140 pounds and many more. Her highest weight reached 350 pounds.
In the mid-1980s, she rejoined TOPS and was 250 lbs.
I kept sticking with it, she said. Youve got to keep coming back.
The support of the TOPS members kept her going, she said. Her highest weight in TOPS was 326 lbs. When it finally clicked for Bent, she lost 201 lbs. Her current weight is 130 lbs.
She was named TOPS State Queen in 2005 and John, 69, who lost 60 pounds, became State King the same year.
The extra weight brought on a lot of health issues, which caused her to have four major surgeries.
Bent said going through the weight loss process with John has helped her.
Everywhere we went, we would prepare our food, she said. We would always plan ahead and we did it together.
Bent wrote a book called Get a Brain Transplant Its Not a Diet Its a Lifestyle Change! In the book she shares her story, along with weight loss tips and recipes.
The Bents travel throughout four states California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii where Gail talks to other TOPS members about achieving weight loss. Bent has been making speaking appearances for the past eight years.
One of the most frequent questions Bent said she gets is: How long did it take to lose the 201 lbs.?
The answer: Two years.
People are amazed to know I did not have gastric bypass, she said.
Bent told the Beaumont TOPS chapter members that she hates the word diet because it connotates deprivation. Going on a diet also sounds like its a temporary fix. Bent said that people like to lose weight because they are going on a cruise or planning to attend a wedding.
In order to successfully lose weight, it starts in the mind, said Bent. Find a program that works for you because everyones lifestyle is different. Bent said that portion control, food selection and reading labels are an important part of the weight loss journey.
Bent pointed to a picture of herself and John on a cruise when they were overweight.
Speaking about her new figure, Bent said, This is a new life. I have a second chance. I dont want to go back there. I dont know who that is.
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