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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

By Rosemarie Onteri
TCS Correspondent

My name is Rosemarie Onteri and I was born in Philadelphia P.A. I grew up in an Italian/Polish household. Food was very abundant and fats and sweets were never thought about twice. My family has always been obese, exercise never really played a part in our lives, and the effects of our lack of it are starting to take its toll. There weren’t many gyms and most of them were for men, I was never active is sports and in catholic school gym wasn’t what it is today. I was a dancer as a child, my weight was never a problem growing up, although my only sister struggled with her weight all of her life, she is obese and has a multitude of health problems.

My father smoked during my youth and had a heart attack at age 53, thank God he survived. My mother and father both have high blood pressure as well as my sister. As a young mother I practiced what I preached, as a result of each of my 8 pregnancies, I gained a lot of weight and never lost all of it between them. I did not have great self esteem then, my marriage was one of convenience, and I did what was expected of me by my parents and then my husband. I never varied because that would make me wrong.

Growing up in a catholic household, you did what your parents said and then your husband, I was so unhappy. After my 8th child at the age of 40, my weight was up even higher than I could ever imagine. I carried 180 lbs on my five foot five inch frame. I wore a size 14-16 and I looked and felt terrible. This wasn’t me and I knew it. I decided at the age of 43 to turn my life around. I joined weight watchers and learned a whole new way of eating. I joined a gym and little by little, the sensible way, I saw the pounds and inches start to melt away. I faced much resistance from those who thought I was too old to change my ways. They thought I shouldn’t care what I looked like any more since now I was a mom, I liked how I looked and most of all I liked how I now felt. I liked wearing skirts and I actually liked my legs. I felt like a new person, my energy level soared and I felt so healthy. Those obstacles were a thing of the past and my husband who thought I could never make it in this world without him is now my ex-husband. I am wearing a size 4-6 and weigh 136 lbs. My self confidence is higher then it has ever been before. I believe in myself for the first time in quite some time. Here I am at age 48, back in school full time to become a personal fitness trainer, I am engaged to a man who believes in me and pushes me to realize my full potential. His belief in me makes me want to go even farther. If I can take one woman who has little, if any self esteem and help her to feel better about herself physically, and mentally, then my journey will be a success.

Photo by Nancy L. Pope

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