Success Story: Pat Prijatel

The Body Project

Recently, a friend told me, "You look better now than when we first met," which was 15 years ago. I truly feel I am getting better with age, and I owe a great deal of my new look to Tim Ives of The Body Project.

After working out with Tim for 18 months, I've lost 38 pounds and dropped two dress sizes. My Body Mass Index is now a healthy 23, down from 29, which had put me dangerously close to that nasty "obese" section on the weight chart. My cholesterol has even dropped 50 points.

What's most important, the exercise and healthy eating regimen I learned has become part of my life, so I feel confident I'll be able to retain my svelte shape and the energy and positive outlook that comes with it.

When I initially signed up, Tim asked me to name an overall workout goal. I said I wanted to lose 20 pounds and get in good enough shape to climb the mountain by my Colorado cabin. Obviously, I more than met the first goal. My second was a little more elusive, and I ended up scaling a far different mountain. Nine months into training, and with 22 pounds lost, I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. While I could have done without the whole experience, I feel that my improved fitness level made treatment far easier and will help me keep cancer from recurring. In fact, research shows that chemotherapy and radiation are both more effective with thinner women. The doctors say my prognosis is excellent. And, while most women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer gain weight-a combination of drug effects such as metabolic change and a reaction to stress-I continued to lose. During treatment, I lost 10 pounds, most of it fat. I continued with strength training and walked two miles nearly every day. Exercise made me feel physically and psychologically stronger.

A week after I finished treatment, I climbed up to 9,000 feet on that mountain, and the hike was surprisingly smooth. I have a few thousand feet left before I make the top, but I will get there.