After struggling to walk on the boardwalk while on vacation and after being diagnosed with sleep apnea, this local mom decided to make a lifestyle change
By Samantha Bambino
Since her late 20s, Feasterville native and Levittown resident Debbie Gordon has fought the same, seemingly endless battle — her weight.
“I was juggling constantly. I tried every diet, I did the Jenny Craig. I did them all and I would just always go back,” Gordon said. “I would do what I had to do, but I just never was determined really to lose it and keep it off.”
But in January 2017, Gordon had enough. After her daughter, Alexa, left home for school at Thomas Jefferson University, she decided it was time to change. Not only did Gordon want a different lifestyle, she needed it.
“I was to a point where I started to have health issues. I would go on vacation with my family and I couldn’t even walk the boardwalk anymore without being out of breath or my knee hurting or my back hurting, which wasn’t me. I wasn’t enjoying life at all. I felt gross in my own skin,” Gordon said, adding that she was diagnosed at the time with sleep apnea. “I decided that I needed to get healthy because I’m not getting any younger.”
That month, Gordon enrolled in a Friday morning Wellness Workshop at the WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) Studio Oxford Valley located in the Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne. Though Gordon had started and quit the program in the past, she knew it would teach her how to properly eat and exercise if she stuck with it. She didn’t want another crash diet — she wanted something she could sustain forever.
“I literally put my mind to it and I never went off. I never cheated, I never did anything,” Gordon said. “I just stuck with it and worked out and here I am.”
Since joining the Wellness Workshop, the now 48-year-old Gordon has lost an impressive 137.2 pounds, working diligently every day to maintain her healthy lifestyle. According to Gordon, she has basically lost an entire person, dropping from a size 26 to a 4.
“I weigh almost as much as I lost,” she said.
So what was different this time? What about the Wellness Workshop made her stick with it and not revert back to old habits? For Gordon, it was the guidance and support she received from the group.
“We all just helped each other, and I actually have some really good friends that came out of the class, so it worked out,” she said. “You realize you’re not the only one going through this, and everybody has the same struggles as you do.”
Gordon also credited her Wellness Coach, Lynda Klein, for helping her stay on track.
“She’s been so supportive from the beginning. She says lots of things that you always take away from the meeting,” Gordon said.
For example, at Thanksgiving, Klein explained to the group how “the rim of the plate is just decoration.” Another favorite saying is “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
“I would always repeat that to myself because that one minute of that taste, I’m going to regret it later,” Gordon said. “So what do I want more?”
Klein, who lost 55 pounds through WW and has been working for the organization since 1982, praised Gordon for her transformation.
“She came in, I think she was a little ambiguous about it but she certainly wanted to succeed and she embraced the plan,” Klein said. “She’s still working on it, she’s still learning, which is good. She’s very vivacious, a very caring person in the meetings, very helpful.”
Currently, Klein runs five Wellness Workshops, which she works to make a supportive and constructive environment. Each week, attendees are privately weighed to promote accountability. After, the group discusses challenges and victories, ideas for food and physical activity, and tips for promoting a positive mindset and attitude.
“The meeting is full of people that care about each other,” Klein said. “I really try to have everyone walk away motivated to take care of themselves and an anchor that will help them remember to take care of themselves. It’s a passion of mine. I’m not just standing up there. I believe in what I’m doing, I care about what I’m doing.”
When Gordon began her weightloss journey in 2017, she admitted it was difficult at first. At her peak weight of 277 pounds, it was a struggle to be conscious of each bite she put in her mouth. But she accounted for everything and made significant changes, easing up on the coffee creamer and eliminating alcohol. Five months in, she also found the strength to exercise.
“To work out, that was not even an interest of mine. I had no desire to work out. I didn’t want to get off my couch,” she said. “Now I have a gym addiction instead of a food addiction, which I guess is quite nice.”
In addition to being able to walk without experiencing shortness of breath, a turning point for Gordon was when she no longer had to shop in the plus size section at JC Penney.
“I realized how many other styles and patterns I could wear. It was so exciting, but I don’t think my bank account liked it very much,” she said, explaining how she purchased bright colors for the first time in years. “I feel it matches more my personality now.”
Though Gordon is the first to say she’s still learning about nutrition, she shared a few words of advice for people looking to lose weight.
“Anything’s possible. If I can lose almost 140 pounds, anyone can do it,” she said. “If it’s something that you really want, don’t give up. You have one bad day, it’s just a bad day. Tomorrow’s a brand new day and you just get right back up and continue where you left off. That’s life. Nothing’s going to be perfect every day. And the reality is, you’re going to have that occasional piece of cake. You have to be able to live.” ••
For more information on WW, visit wwphl.com or call 1–800–456–6363.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org