THUNDER BAY - Ten years ago, Jennifer Noyes decided she needed to make a change in her life. It has been a long journey, but every step toward her goal has been worth it.
“I started this journey because I found I couldn’t walk, I was out of breath all the time, and I just needed a change,” Noyes said.
Over the last 10 years, Noyes lost 178 pounds and on Sunday, she was named the Northwestern Ontario 2016 Queen during a recognition rally hosted by the TOPS Club.
“I was very proud,” she said. “I am feeling good.”
Debra MacLean, regional director with TOPS, said rallies like the one held in Thunder Bay every year, play an important role in encouraging participants to continue onwards toward their goals.
“Recognition is a large part of our organization,” she said. “We really recognize all of the accomplishments and continue to do so yearly.”
Through weekly meetings with dietitians and physicians, as well as weigh-ins, participants receive a lot of support, which Noyes said helped her achieve her goal.
“I needed the support to continue,” she said. “The weekly weigh-ins kept me accountable.”
“Group support is a big thing,” MacLean added. “The weigh-in is accountability. Every week you know you are going to face the scale and that accountability makes you responsible for yourself.”
For Noyes, it was also her own sense of determination that kept her working every day to lose weight.
“It was just knowing how bad I wanted it,” she said. “I wanted to lose the weight, I wanted to look good and feel good.”
“A healthy lifestyle is really important,” MacLean added. “It’s about saving our health care system. It’s about living a better life, a healthier life, a longer life. It’s really important that we do these events to promote awareness in our communities because it saves everybody money.”
This year, 12 women and men were honoured as divisional winners from across Northern Ontario. Stories of the challenges and successes faced by the winners were shared with the audience, which MacLean said helps others know they, too, can achieve their goal.
“Sitting in the audience and listening to people tell their stories, how bad life was as a big person, and how difficult it was, and the struggles of being heavy and now being a more healthy weight, the difference in their lifestyles and how they feel about themselves motivates and inspires,” she said.
Noyes said her weight loss was a slow process, but she is thankful she kept working towards it, because now she feels better than ever, and she encourages anyone wanting to lose weight to keep going.
“I would just tell them to go for it,” she said. “Believe in themselves and believe in the journey. It’s all worth it.”