Inspiration from ‘Biggest Loser’ leads to ‘Real’ success

By on April 24, 2011

Photo: Debbie Pitstick of Maple Park lost an inspring 80 pounds over 5 years. While not only conquoring her weight, she was also able to gain confidence, leave an unhealthy relationship, graduate from college and run a 5k. Courtesy Photos

by Lynn Meredith
Maple Park—Back in 2005, you might find Debbie Pitstick sitting on the couch. Today you’ll most likely find the Maple Park resident at the gym.

From “before” to “after,” Pitstick lost 80 pounds over the course of five years. She was recently named a National Weight Loss Success Story for RealAge and is featured on the website as part of the launch of its updated RealAge test.

RealAge is best known for its connection with Dr. Oz and the “You: The Owner’s Manual” series of health books. Participants on the website can take the RealAge test to determine how old their body thinks they are. The test has been recently updated to include more current factors that determine the body’s real age. Pitstick, at age 32, had a RealAge of 41.9. Today at 38, her real age is 37.6.

“I was a couch potato, a big couch potato,” Pitstick said. “I couldn’t walk a half a mile down my driveway without dying. I gained 100 pounds in four years just from being very unhappy.”

Debbie before losing 80 lbs.

She had tried all sorts of diet plans in an effort to lose weight, but she would get discouraged and quit. She joined Delnor Health and Wellness in the past but wasn’t motivated to stick with it.

All that was about to change when she started watching “The Biggest Loser” on TV and saw all that the participants had accomplished.

“I saw their transformations, and I said to myself, ‘Hey, if they can do it, why can’t I?’” Pitstick said. “I decided to finally to go for it after many, many tries (in the past), and I stuck with it.”

Pitstick started reading the “You on a Diet” books and educating herself on how to eat healthy. She changed her diet first by cutting out soda pop, fried and processed foods, avoiding partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.

Within six months, she had lost 20 pounds. That progress spurred her to take on a new challenge: exercise.

She joined Delnor and started on the treadmill at a slow pace, 2.5 to 3 miles per hour for 20 minutes. She gradually increased the pace and the time. And then a funny thing happened.

Debbie halfway through her weight loss process.

“I gained confidence. I left an unhealthy relationship. I went back to college and finished a bachelor’s degree. I started running 5k’s,” she said. “I realized that I had always been quitting everything I had ever tried. I started to think what else I hadn’t finished, what other goals do I want to accomplish.”

When she crossed her first 5K finish line in October 2008, she was overcome with emotion seeing how far she had come. She knew that a few years earlier she never would have imagined herself doing that.

Pitstick submitted her story to RealAge in November 2010. She was immediately identified as a top candidate due to her weight loss success but also for her desire to motivate others who are struggling with health issues.

“The biggest thing is that everybody tries to do it all at once. They want to do everything at the same time, and you can’t do it,” she said. “My whole goal on the website is to encourage others. Everyone needs to hear, ‘If I can do it, you can do it.’ That’s how ‘The Biggest Loser’ spoke to me. You have to be in the right mindset and know when you’re ready.”

Pitstick’s confidence extends to knowing that she will keep the weight off. She remembers how she felt when she was heavier and likes where she is now.

“I’m finally in a happy place in my life,” she said. “I’m in a healthy place.”

You can find Debbie’s story featured at