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Lawtonian shares extreme weight loss story

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Over 35 percent of Oklahoman's are obese and spend an estimated $147 billion on medical costs, According to the CDC. 

With an ever-changing society where everything is needed quicker and faster, processed and fried food is more often consumed because of convenience. A solution that's simple, but not easy can help change people's lives. Eating smarter, healthy and having an active lifestyle can change the spectrum of your life.

One woman took matters into her own hands went on a mission to lose over 100lbs in 6 months. Now, she's exceeded that goal and is inspiring others to make a change, the way she did. 

Beneshea Dowden weighed 308 pounds back in July 2015. The mom of three kids had trouble breathing, and her doctor told her if she didn’t change her eating and exercise habits, she was in for health problems.

"I was just choosing to be lazy and to be overweight," said Dowden."That's how I look at it. That was the choice that I was making."

A friend invited her to a group fitness class, and even offered to pay for it. Beneshea says she was terrified, but she tried it. After pushing through her first P90x high intensity workout, she was hooked.

"I changed how I was eating," said Dowden."I used to send my husband to get late night snacks, and things like that all the time, but I cut that out. I haven't had a soda since July of 2015. Some people are like you don't ever just want one and you do from time to time, but my ultimate goal is more important to me."

Beneshea has lost 129 pounds, and she’s still going…from a 52 to 32 inch waist in just over a year. Her secret...she says it’s simple, but not easy.           

"What I eat and how much I eat of it," said Dowden."Portion control is everything. I don't eat more than what I burn off. So, if there's a day where I worked out minimal, then it's probably going to be a salad kind of day because I don't want to put more in than what I burned off."

Dr. Leslie Aiku, a Family Practitioner at Comanche County Memorial Hospital says people are less active than they used to be. She believes people would rather stay at home on the couch, watch TV, play on their phones and tablets, rather than get up, get outside, and exercise. She reminds us of the long list of health problems related to being overweight.

"High blood pressure can unfortunately cause heart problems, it can cause a stroke, it can cause you to have kidney problems, that's one," said Dr. Aiku."Diabetes, diabetes is very common if you're very obese or you're obese at all, you have a higher risk of having conditions like diabetes because your body just doesn't process foods the way they're supposed to."

She says education is the first step to fighting obesity, and it starts with kids. she encourages families to cook together, eat at home, and stay out of the drive through.

"If you cook, you know what you're cooking and you know what you're putting in your stomach, so you have a higher tendency to eat better if you're cooking you're own food," said Dr. Aiku.

Beneshea quit her job and opened her own fitness studio, she hopes her story will motivate others who worry change is impossible.

"To inspire and encourage those that are sitting at home and not doing anything about it," said Dowden."Because that's a choice that you're making. Saying you don't have time, I'm here to tell you that's an excuse. You got to leave your excuses at the door and commit to really getting healthy and wanting to be better than you were before."

There are many resources that Oklahomans can use to get healthier and find ways to change their lifestyle. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health offers programs such as Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, Heart Disease and Stroke Health Program, Center for the Advancement of Wellness, and a FITNESSGRAM program for children.

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