Lisa Erspamer, 32
Home: Chicago, Illinois
Job: Producer, The Oprah Winfrey Show
Starting weight: 258 lb.
Current weight: 168 lb.
When I Gained
I was heavy my entire life. I'd lost between 60 and 70 pounds three different times. I gave up in 1996, when my dad got sick and I was flying to and from California. When he died, I hit an all time high of 258. I was in denial. I didn't own a full-length mirror.
Why I Overate
I'm extremely sensitive. Whether I was happy, sad, mad—I used food to soften the feeling. I ate when I was stressed, if I was tired. I used to joke that food is my friend. That's how I felt.
In June 1999, Oprah took me and another staffer to Telluride for a spa week. We talked about weight and living up to our potential. We read Gary Zukav's The Seat of the Soul. I started keeping a journal. I had been good at separating myself from reality, but for the first time, I was able to experience what I was feeling.
How I Began
At the farm, Phil McGraw said, "People are fat because they want to be." I realized I was sick of saying, "When I get thin, I'll..." I just decided I would work out five days a week, no matter what. I wouldn't eat food that didn't make me feel good. And the Spa Girls keep me motivated.
What I Eat Now
I still love food, but I try to eat real—not processed—foods: fruits, vegetables, turkey. I have carbohydrates once a day, and I try not to eat after seven PM.
What I Can Do Now
I can shop anywhere I want, even the Gap. Trying on clothes is fun. When the Spa Girls went to Hawaii last March, I wore a bathing suit for the first time in about fifteen years.
How I've Changed
I've pretended to be happy most of my life. Now I actually feel happy. I'm so much more secure, less afraid. I finally feel like I'm living my full life.