“Everyone around me—Miriam, my friends, colleagues, and family—became part of my support group, reinforcing my good behavior,” says Hobba. “If I had a bad day and was thinking of skipping the gym, someone would stop me on the way out of work and say, ‘Wow, you look great. How did you do this?’ And guess what, I went to the gym that day.”
In turn, Hobba’s efforts to transform herself rippled out to those around her. Her roommate and best friend, Lynda, not only took off 40 pounds on Weight Watchers but started exercising, too, and greatly improved her overall health. (She once walked with a cane because of her arthritis, but soon began to walk freely, 2 to 3 miles at a time.) Hobba’s sister, Tracie, who had been obese all her life, took a boot-camp exercise course at Deanne’s urging and then, in 2010, trained to run a 5K race. A colleague began working out and lost more than 100 pounds. Two other work friends joined Weight Watchers, one has lost 25 pounds, the other 65. Hobba’s mother began to walk regularly, and her father and his wife began to walk and ride bikes. “The whole family started thinking more about their dining habits and being smarter about what they eat,” Deanne says—a reflection of her own profound change in attitude toward food.
“I used to think of food as a reward, something I thought I deserved,” she says. “Now I think of it simply as nourishment, as something to sustain me and enable me to do the things I want to do.” Deanne doesn’t deprive herself. She works hard to eat a healthy diet centered on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and the occasional baked potato or serving of brown rice. Every once in a while, she splurges on ice cream or a cookie or two. “Everyone does,” she says. “But the key is realizing that one bad meal won’t pack on 25 pounds. If you have a bad meal, don’t make it a bad day of meals, a bad week of meals. Just stop it right there.”
Every week, Hobba works out with a triathlon training group near her home in Salem, Massachusetts, an “awesome” group of six women, ranging in age from 40 to 63. “We share coffee and bagels, all right, but first we run ten miles,” she says. “They are my friends, my workout partners, my motivators; they’ve become an integral part of my life.
“How do I feel now? Happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.”