Anne and Ralph Linsangan transformed their lives in three years.
Early in their marriage, the couple went on a trip to Walt Disney World and could barely walk through the park, so they took turns using a wheelchair. Last October they returned for a vacation, and ran the Disney half marathon together.
They’ve lost a total of 250 lbs. — 133 lbs. for Anne and 117 lbs. for Ralph — by changing their eating habits and gradually adding in exercise.
When the West Bloomfield, Michigan, pair first got married in 2010, they used to eat fast food for “every single meal,” Anne, 31, tells PEOPLE.
They lived next to a street full of fast food restaurants, “I would hit up Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC,” says Ralph, 32. “Anne would go the other way where there was Arby’s, White Castle — and we’d pick up a little bit of everything. We’d have a little bit from every single fast food restaurant in a half-mile radius.”
“It was fun, we were 25 and we were living our best life,” jokes Anne, who works for a title insurance company.
Though the habit was threatening her health, a doctor’s warning didn’t cause Anne alarm.
“After my first year of being married at my annual physical, the doctor was like, ‘We need to check your thyroid, there’s got to be something wrong. You gained 75 lbs. in the last year.’ I didn’t even notice it until the doctor said something, but even when she did and tested my thyroid and it was fine, I wasn’t ready to do anything about it. We still continued to gain weight.”
But when the couple couldn’t get pregnant, Anne decided to make a change at the suggestion of her doctors. “I decided that this is something I can control … if it’s my weight that’s causing [pregnancy] to not happen then I’m doing something,” she says. “So I joined WW with the mindset of ‘I’m just not stopping and I’m getting a baby or I’m getting skinny.” The couple now has a 3-year-old daughter.
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She joined the program with her mom and sister and lost 75 lbs., but when her companions dropped out and she couldn’t find any friends to go to meetings with her, Ralph decided to step in. “I really did just want to do it to be supportive, but I also saw that she was having success,” the business consultant says.
Anne was committed to the program, but found “it was way better once we started doing it together.” Ralph says he “got more involved with picking out fresh meals and looking at the points,” and they learned to cook healthy meals together like a favorite of grilled salmon and roasted vegetables. “For me it became a really positive path … just because we always have that 24/7 support system.”
While Anne was the catalyst for healthier eating, Ralph started the couple on exercise. He took up running and told Anne, “It feels good, you should do it, and she was like, ‘No, fitness is not for me, I’m just sticking with my food,’ ” Ralph says. But he persisted after he felt a thrill from completing a half marathon. “I told Anne, ‘You’re going to like this … it’s life changing, you’ll feel great. So it took a little convincing before she hopped on board.”
Now the couple regularly run and hike together, and their daughter says running is her “favorite sport.”
“She sees two healthy parents doing all of these fitness activities,” Anne says.
They emphasize that their transformation was gradual, and that no one should expect things to change overnight. “It should be slow,” Anne says. “That’s how you learn new skills and keep it maintainable. I didn’t learn to cook overnight; it was a consistent repetition of these little tweaks to our bad habits.”
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