Perfect Losers

Like many of us approaching middle age, Vicki Ferguson has had an unpleasant run-in with the Creep.

No, the Creep isn’t that ex-boyfriend who hawked your stuff the minute after you broke up. So slow it’s nearly imperceptible, the Creep is that gradual accumulation of unwanted pounds–concentrated typically for women on our bellies, thighs and rear-ends–that seems to accelerate as we age. 

Ferguson, an active Leawood wife and mom who recently turned 50, had never struggled with her weight. She exercised with a trainer and even played tennis at Hallbrook with regularity. And–save for a glass or two of wine at night–she’d been eating reasonably. 

“But in the last five years the weight just crept on,” she says. “I’d look at photos and think, please say that’s not me.” But Ferguson, who weighed 168 pounds at her heaviest, had a final defining moment. “When I realized I weighed more than my teenage son. That was it,” she remembers.

And so she mobilized the weight-loss troops, addressing both diet and exercise this time in her battle against middle-aged spread. She’d been working out with Excel Wellness Studio trainer Vince Brown, who had been encouraging her to improve her diet–as well as ditch the wine at night–for years. “I finally bought in,” she says. 

Buying in also meant buying a plan at Success Meals, a local company that delivers nutritionally tailored meals and snacks directly to your door. Ferguson ate three meals and two snacks a day, including a sweet snack every afternoon. Was she ever hungry? “At first,” she admits. “But that goes away pretty fast.” 

She also upped her workouts by adding a second trainer, Lifetime Fitness’ John Scott, to her weekday routine. Five days of cardio including two-day workouts with each of her two trainers (total exercise time is 90 minutes per workout) keep Ferguson busy during the week. “For me, having the trainers is key. They push me in a way that I wouldn’t push myself,” she says.

With six months of diet and exercise, Ferguson has lost 35 pounds, gone from a size 10 to a size 4, and reduced her body fat from 34 percent to 20 percent. 

And while she’s proud of those statistics, she’s careful not to give them too much power. “I try not to focus on the numbers too much,” she says, “especially the pounds on the scale.” She recognizes that for those of us longing to see the weight we flaunted so effortlessly as 20-somethings, measurement in pounds can be discouraging. “I let the trainers keep track of that number so that I don’t have to,” she advises.

But if the math–not to mention the discipline–involved with Ferguson’s plan of two trainers twice a week plus five meals a day makes your head spin, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Ferguson takes the weekends off completely (Success Meals delivers only during the week) and even eats a salad “out” during regular date nights with her son.

Clad often now in post-workout gear, a perky, blonde-haired Ferguson fits in well with many of her Leawood counterparts gathered at The Roasterie Cafe on a weekday. Sometimes she wonders if she’d have lost the weight if she had lived elsewhere, perhaps in say Boise, where the standard might be less . . . thin?

“I think in the end you have to do it for yourself, and no one else,” she thoughtfully concludes. “Any other reason doesn’t stand the test of time.”

She reminds anyone wanting to emulate her success that one size doesn’t fit all. “Find a weight-loss method you can get enthusiastic about, then do it.” And most of all, “get the [weight] numbers out of your mind, and be happy with yourself.”

And happy is what Ferguson seems, now that her only run-ins with the Creeps might mean a few unwanted heads turned in her direction at a bar. It’s a kind of attention she said she’s never been comfortable with, and some days it’s enough to make her want to gain a few pounds back. “My trainer says we’re going to work through that,” she adds.

words: Cisley Thummel

photos: Paul Versluis