One Bride's Weight-Loss Success Story

Here's how one bride got fit and healthy before her wedding.


before and after weight loss

The Bride: Mary Sauerwein Bellavia. A project manager at Boeing in St. Louis, MO, she and her husband, Dan, a chemist at Pfizer, who on weekends plays rugby for the St. Louis Bombers Rugby Club, were married in March 2019 in Columbia, IL.

Big Day Goals: "I vividly remember shopping for a special occasion dress and just sobbing in the dressing room because I didn’t feel good about myself. The only tears I wanted when I went shopping for a wedding dress were happy ones. I also wanted to be able to enjoy a more active lifestyle with my husband."

Fitness: "Prior to WW, I used various diet/fitness apps and worked out 7 days a week, but didn’t lose any weight. I even hired a personal trainer. I can testify to this universal truth: You cannot out-exercise a poor diet. I don’t regret hiring a trainer — I became a lot stronger and much more comfortable in the gym and with weightlifting."

Weekly Meetings: "I chose to go to weekly workshops to have the added in-person accountability. Everyone in the group had their own individual struggles, yet we all still had a lot in common. I loved being part of a group that understood. I honestly do not think I would’ve met my goals or could continue to maintain them without the WW workshops."

Why WW (formerly Weight Watchers): "My mom. She’s been a WW member since I was in high school. She made sure we had healthy food options at home. I gained around 60 pounds after I began living on my own. When I told my mom I had joined WW she met me after work and accompanied me to my first WW meeting and weigh-in."

Getting Started: "I focused on tracking and learning the points value of food. I didn't look at this as breaking bad habits, but learning new ones. I quickly learned the importance of tracking before eating. I will rarely, almost never, regret making a healthier choice but I am likely to regret making an unplanned unhealthy choice."

Biggest Changes: "Before, I didn’t eat a lot of fruits and veggies. Most of my groceries were purchased from the frozen section, quick meals I could throw in the oven or microwave. I also ate a lot of fast food or ate out. Now, my fridge is overflowing with fresh food and my freezer is full of zero-point meats (lean proteins)."

Foodwise: "Breakfast is always a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. A poached or over-easy egg is zero points and I use fat-free or low-fat cheese. For lunch, I try to have the base of the meal be a zero-point protein and a side of veggies. I like to spend my points on the things that dress up a meal — cheese, dressing, condiments, or if I have to cook anything in oil. Grilled chicken tenders and roasted butternut squash and brussels sprouts are a go-to. I get to eat a huge variety of food and I never get bored."

Staying on Track: "At one of my first workshops, a lifetime member said, 'Motivation is fleeting and fickle, it will wax and wane. So don't rely on motivation to get you through this journey, be determined. Find your "why" and let that give you determination.' She was right. Determination got me to (and helps me maintain) my goal."

Biggest Challenges: "A lot of my early struggles involved not wanting to feel deprived. I didn't want to skip wine night with friends or eating out with my fiancé. WW taught me how to plan ahead and use points so I didn't have to miss out. Dan and I took up more activities that didn't revolve around meals. I learned that holidays are about spending time with my favorite people, not about the food."

Takeaways: "Despite two major 8- to 10-week plateaus during the 18 months of my journey, I met my fitness and weight-loss goals. I went from a dress size 12/14 to 2/4. I feel strong and confident and continue to follow the WW program. Dan was so supportive throughout and still is. He never joined WW, but he did lose 30 pounds just by living with and supporting me. We cook together more. Being mindful about food and making healthy choices is still part of my life. And as we think about starting a family, I want to be able to set the positive example my mom set for me growing up."