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For years she underwent chemotherapy and took massive amounts of drugs to treat it. She says that was to blame for much of her weight gain. Now, she is cancer-free and has been for 16 years. Her new battle began just this February with a trip to Walt Disney World.
“Last February my company took me to the annual meeting in Disney World to celebrate 10 years with the company,” Atkins said. “I was so overweight I couldn’t walk. I was miserable the whole time. And I had just gotten married so my husband was excited (to go). But I couldn’t function, and I would go back to my hotel room and just cry, I was in so much pain. I was having knee issues.”
Atkins says her doctors told her she needed to lose weight for her knees. She says she heard about a health club near her home in Youngsville, Cajun Fitness, and convinced her husband to check it out with her.
“We went that afternoon and I signed up and started working out the very next day,” Atkins said. “I haven’t stopped since. Once I hit my goal, I want to go back to Disney World and enjoy myself. So my miserable trip to Disney World is what did it.”
To date, Atkins has lost 130 pounds and plans to lose another 90. She has gone from a whopping 380 pounds to her current weight and plans to reach 160. She credits her amazing success to a lot of hard work but a very simple philosophy.
“A lot of dedication, motivation and drive,” she said. “It’s 90 percent nutrition and 10 percent exercise.”
Atkins says there were also things she gave up, like soda. She says she no longer drinks any soda, diet or regular, and drinks about a gallon of water a day. She also gave up fast food and started eating breakfast daily. Her diet includes two eggs in the morning and a salad or sandwich for lunch. She also sticks to grilled chicken or fish for dinner and limits her pork and beef intake to just two days a week.
Those things are familiar to most people, but for Atkins, there was the added incentive. She began following fitness celebrity Chris Powell on Facebook and sharing her story with him and on the “Extreme Makeover” website.
“I emailed the Facebook page and they posted my story back in October,” recalled Atkins. “I had lost 82 pounds and I thought, I’m going to email them my new pictures “» They called me the next day.”
ABC producers told Atkins they loved her story and planned to do a feature on her. She said until they showed up at her door, she still didn’t believe it.
In the ABC segment, Powell not only showed up at her gym while she was working out, he also surprised her with a pair of size 10 jeans he told her she would one day wear when she reached her goal.
“I want you to keep these and I want you to take a picture of you in them and send it to me,” said Powell.
Today, Atkins said she feels fantastic. She says she now enjoys doing so many things she never felt good about before.
“I feel like a million bucks,” Atkins said. “Things I once didn’t like to do like clothes shop, I love to do now. It’s because I’m not in pain and I’m comfortable with myself.”