But it wasn’t long ago that Hobba could barely dislodge herself from an amusement-park ride. At age 33, she weighed 268 pounds and suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and frequent migraine headaches. “I had tried to lose weight with various diets, but nothing stuck,” she recalls. “I had horrible eating habits. Whatever was put in front of me, I ate—huge portions at meals and whole boxes of cookies. Food was my crutch. It was my cure for boredom. It was what I did with friends: we went out and ordered a lot of unhealthy food. Food was my emotional support. If I had a bad day, I’d go home and eat a pizza.”
That year, two things occurred that changed Hobba’s life forever. “It was summer , and I’d taken my nephew to an amusement park,” she says. “When we sat down on one ride, the safety bar kept springing back up again and again. Finally, the guy manning the ride whispered in my ear, ‘I’m sorry, ma’am, you’ll have to get off—we can’t close the bar over you.’”
Hobba was mortified. “I knew I was heavy, but this was devastating. I had to do something. Still, I kept putting it off.” That winter, while working as an X-ray technologist at Union Hospital in Lynn, Massachusetts, she encountered a string of patients who were morbidly obese. “It took five or six people to move them to the table,” she recalls. “It was clear they couldn’t take care of themselves.
I thought, if I don’t change, in 10 years or so this could be me.”