Carisa Cegavske

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October 23, 2013
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Green woman shares how she dropped half her body weight with TOPS

Green resident Susan Augustine lost about half her body weight between 2007 and December, dropping from 270 pounds to 137.

Augustine, 50, said the change is so dramatic her own reflection sometimes surprises her.

“When I walk by the mirror, I do a double take. I go, ‘Wait a minute! That’s not me. That skinny little thing is not me,’” she said.

Augustine reached her goal weight in December. She said there are two secrets to her success. The first is walking. She tries to walk a mile a day, even if the walking takes place indoors on a rainy day.

The second is the support she gets from her Take Off Pounds Sensibly group in Roseburg, where she meets weekly with others working to lose weight or keep it off. TOPS is a nonprofit weight-loss organization with thousands of support groups in the United States and Canada.

Augustine lost more weight than any other TOPS member in Oregon in 2012, making her the state’s reigning TOPS Queen. She represented Oregon in July at the annual TOPS convention in Calgary, Alberta.

Augustine said her last healthy weight was 128 pounds in junior high school. By her high school graduation, she was up to 180 and the pounds kept piling on.

“What contributed to my weight gain is I love food, that’s the main thing, and the fact that the food I love is not the best stuff. I knew, at one place I lived, the Domino’s delivery guy very well,” she said.

Two years ago, she said she could go through a bag of small Hershey’s bars in a day.

“Now it takes me a month and a half to go through one,” she said.

In 1999, Augustine was diagnosed with diabetes.

“My mother was adopted, and I was adopted, but we both have diabetes. It was the lifestyle,” she said. Augustine said she spent too little time outdoors and too much time eating.

Augustine said she was an indoor person even as a child and her career choice — accounting — contributed to a sedentary lifestyle. She also had been raised to finish everything on her plate and found it difficult to kick that habit.

“I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin. Being overweight, not being able to wear the clothes I wanted to wear, not having the energy to do what I wanted to do, those were the worst things,” she said.

One low point was when she drove to a friend’s wedding in Portland only to drive away without going inside.

“I felt too overweight. I didn’t feel comfortable in the clothes I was wearing. I felt I didn’t look good,” she said.

It was her mother who encouraged her in 2007 to join TOPS.

She joined the weekly weigh-ins and began keeping a food journal — documenting not just what she was eating but how she felt, so she could begin to see the connection between feeling down and overeating.

Most important, she walked about a mile a day, every day.

In time, she said that walking started to lift her mood so she felt less hungry. With just 50 pounds left to go, she said her brain finally seemed to notice when she was eating too much.

“About a year and a half ago, I was sitting here on the couch, and my brain and stomach finally got together. I realized I was stuffed and half my meal was still on my plate. That’s when things started clicking for me,” she said. “Now it’s more like five minutes after I start eating, my system is saying, ‘Do you really want that?’ And I know I’m not hungry.”

Now eating less and walking more, she dropped weight so quickly she went straight from wearing a size 16 to buying a size 12.

Augustine still enjoys chocolate and hates cauliflower. She responds quickly to sweets cravings by giving herself a small portion of what she loves, and she does not make herself eat vegetables she does not like. She believes dieters who make themselves miserable set themselves up for failure.

Augustine said she has more energy now that she no longer carries around those extra pounds. She wears “skinny jeans” now, but there are other less obvious perks to dropping 133 pounds.

When she was heavy, Augustine said she could not wear tall boots because the tops did not fit around her thighs. She could not cross her legs, either. Now she can sit “like a lady” and buy those boots.

“Now I feel like I can do what I want to do and people aren’t looking at me and judging me,” she said.

She also said she has more energy.

“It feels fantastic. It really does. I realized I could do more activity without feeling like I needed to sit down,” she said.

• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or

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The News-Review Updated Oct 23, 2013 01:32PM Published Oct 25, 2013 09:53AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.