Green loses 145 pounds on weight loss journey

Published 12:06 am Sunday, January 26, 2014

ROD GUAJARDO/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Vickie Green holds up one of her favorite dresses she wore often before losing 145 pounds. Now Green keeps it as a reminder of her heavier days. Above is a picture of Green before she lost the weight.

ROD GUAJARDO/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Vickie Green holds up one of her favorite dresses she wore often before losing 145 pounds. Now Green keeps it as a reminder of her heavier days. Above is a picture of Green before she lost the weight.

The totem that reduced Vickie Green to half the person she was came to her one day in a dressing room at a women’s apparel shop.

It was a swimsuit.

Green was preparing to go on a beach vacation with her family in the summer of 2012, and after years of going in a T-shirt, shorts and wrapped in a beach towel, she decided she would buy a one-piece swimsuit.

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But when she saw how the swimsuit covered — and didn’t cover — her 298-pound body, Green knew she couldn’t wear it to the beach.

“It did not work well,” she said.

Instead of timidly placing the suit back on the rack, however, Green bought it.

“I thought that was what I needed for inspiration to get me to make the changes I needed,” she said.

The suit stayed in the closet, but it also niggled at the back of her mind.

At the same time, an older lady from Green’s church — the late Betty Porter — who sang in the choir with her and served as her mentor started a walking group. Porter kept inviting Green to join the group, but Green kept making excuses, not wanting to join the group.

“It got to where I stopped going to choir rehearsal, because I knew she was going to ask me why I hadn’t come,” Green said.

Finally, she relented and showed up one morning at Pilgrim Baptist Church, where Porter and the other walkers would make laps around the church building for 30 to 45 minutes at a brisk pace.

The first lap did not go well.

“I barely made one lap around the church,” Green said. “I had my cell phone out pretending someone had called me, and I told her I had to go.”

But Green knew she wanted to change, and the drive to drop her son off at school took her past the church every day at the same time as the walking group. She joined in, and even started losing some weight — not a lot, but some. She added some time in the gym into her routine.

Winter weather set in, and the walking group disbanded. Green liked how the exercise was making her feel, though, but the gym work and results weren’t as satisfying as they once were.

One day, she saw an infomercial for the aerobic-dance exercise routine Zumba on TV. The station was playing the infomercial on a loop, and Green tried to follow along.

“I thought, ‘This may kick it up a notch, so I ordered the darned DVD,” she said.

“I barely got through the first routine, and I gave up, but I kept at it, and I lost 16 to 17 pounds in three months.”

At the same time, Green was changing how she was eating. For three months she was a vegetarian, slowly adding meat back into the diet and controlling portions. She never skips a meal.

“It wasn’t hard for me to adapt to, because I could have grown up a vegan if I wanted to,” Green said. “I love veggies.”

Healthy eating and intense aerobics helped drop more weight, but soon Green wasn’t feeling challenged by it anymore. She moved on from Zumba to the so-called Insanity workout, which focuses on intense stamina training.

“After I started doing Zumba, I always liked feeling a burn,” she said. “I am now beyond Insanity, because I have incorporated some of my own original moves into it.”

Green is a long way from the woman who couldn’t make a lap around a building. She’s 145 pounds lighter, weighing in now at 153.

“Now I am where I want to be, and we are just toning,” she said.

“I am still the same person, bubbly and giggly. When you begin to lose the weight, it does bring a new perspective to your life, and when people see me, they become motivated.”

Green’s husband, Edwin Green Sr., said seeing his wife shed the pounds has been an inspiration but not a surprise.

“Once my wife sets her mind to it, she really goes at it,” he said.

The two have been married for 29 years — they wed as teenagers — and gained weight together.

Now, he said, she has motivated him to lose weight.

“I told her, ‘You are my role model,’” he said. “I said, ‘Baby, you have left me, and I am going to catch up with you.’”

Green said she knows it’s not easy to get in shape on your own, and last February she started teaching classes, giving six workouts over the course of three weeks, spreading the gospel of exercise with a beyond-insanity boot camp.

“In my classes, we support each other, we need that motivation from one another because it is difficult sometimes to do this alone,” she said. “We actually come together as a group and do it because I believe iron sharpens iron.”

Connie Merrick and Yolanda Campbell decided to take Green’s class after seeing her success, and both said they were taken aback by how intense it was.

“She is a beast,” Campbell said.

“When you leave, you are drenched like you just stepped out of the shower. It is a workout that has you exhausted, but at the same time feeling good. You can feel that it is working.”

“The good thing about the class is it is a small group of us. We have become friends and motivate each other. If one is complaining about being tired or saying they can’t do it, we push them on.”

The class experience requires participants to enter with an open mind and a preparation to work hard, Merrick said.

“I went to the class to get some motivation to walk more and get some exercise, but I got way more than my expectation,” she said. “I had no idea it would be this extensive and this intense.”

Green is glad for her new body, but she still keeps the totem of her past around. She still has the swimsuit that started it all, and keeps one of her large dresses to remind herself — and others — the distance it is possible to come.

Group support is important, she said, but self-improvement still has to start with self.

“You have to want to do this, and you must have the will to want to do it,” she said.

But when you reach into that primal place and find that will, the results can be amazing.

“I get into that swimsuit now, and I can’t believe the person I have become,” she said.