If you're looking for excuses not to keep your New Year's resolution, consider Teri Wilson's story.
Wilson lost 36 pounds nine years ago, with the Herald following her progress in a series of stories. Despite hardship through the years, she has been able to keep the weight off -- and then some.
She has battled thyroid cancer, been through a divorce and lost her father to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. A close friend also died in a car accident.
"I basically had every excuse in the book to gain all of it, and then some, back," said Teri, whose last name was Piazza at the time of the stories but went back to her maiden name of Wilson after the divorce.
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But Wilson, now 38, didn't gain her weight back. She weighed 180 pounds by the time the Herald started following her, down from 215 pounds. By the end of the 2005 series, she had lost another 36 pounds.
She kept losing and now weighs 128, cutting back on processed food, junk food and sugar.
Wilson was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in February 2008, and her father died in May of that same year. She moved to California and ran the half marathon that fall at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park while fighting the disease.
She wanted to run a full marathon in Napa Valley, but the cancer grew to the size of a crabapple, making it difficult to breathe. She eventually had her thyroid removed in July 2009. She moved back to West Richland in 2010.
But, through it all, her weight never fluctuated more than 10 pounds, she said. Her 2005 New Year's resolution to lose weight was the only one she's ever made. While many people make resolutions and see them quickly forgotten, she made sure to stick with it.
"Honestly, I had made up my mind that this was something I was going to do," she said. "I held myself accountable and no one else."
This year, Wilson will try to take her fitness to the next level. She already works out six days a week. She plays soccer, goes to the gym and runs all times of year.
"If it comes in a box, I don't touch it," she said. "A lot of people cut back on carbs, I just watch my portions. I really follow the food pyramid. If I do have a craving for something sweet, I just cut back the portions or chew sugar-free gum -- that usually cures it."
Wilson now tries to pass the fitness bug on to her children, Brennen Piazza, 14, and Makenna Piazza, 11.
The kids prefer her food to eating out, while Brennen has become Wilson's "workout buddy," she said.
People who are trying to become fit should be careful with their expectations, said Donna Bradford, owner of the Curves at the Uptown shopping center in Richland. The gym offers 30-minute workouts for women, which she sees as a good alternative for people who think that a long workout is the way to get in shape.
"When people make New Year's resolutions, they go overboard and expect too much out of themselves," she said.
Bradford, who lost 39 pounds at Curves before buying the franchise more than two years ago, said the important thing is to get started.
"Put one foot in front of the other to see where it takes you," she said.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom