Barbara Kossy in 2005
Barbara Kossy in 2005 ( Courtesy of Barbara Kossy )

Name: Barbara Kossy

Age: 61

City: Moss Beach

"Overweight, middle-aged women."

That's what the nurse said when I asked her, "So, who gets their gall bladders removed?"

I was hooked up to an IV, and minus a gallbladder, I weighed about 185 pounds -- and that was after a few days of fasting and eating nearly nothing because of the surgery.

My dad had just died at 91. Mom was going strong in her mid-80s. Grandma died in her 90s, and her sister was in her 100s. At 60, I could have another 30 years ahead of me. Literally, a lifetime.

So that was it. I joined Weight Watchers because I liked its science-based approach to weight loss. And since that day in the hospital in March 2012, I've lost 50 pounds and kept it off.

One of my goals was to be able to kayak in the beautiful, sleek Epic V8 Surfski. The old me could not even fit in the seat. Now I paddle my sporty V8 out in the ocean among the sea lions and dolphins. The old me could barely walk two miles. The new me can hike six.

As I lost weight, I had to replace my wardrobe twice. I shopped at thrift stores and became so enthralled with clothing that I'm now taking classes at Cañada College's fashion design department, and I'm making and designing my own clothes using repurposed fabric.

The biggest challenges were to be kind to myself when I slipped up and to stay on track now that I'm at my goal weight. I cultivated a love of vegetables and healthy food and learned to back away from the seductions of rich, high calorie foods.

I'm getting more exercise, and I just joined my local gym. A great reward was the compassion I feel for everyone dealing with diet and weight, the knowledge that my friends in my Weight Watchers classes were not pathetic but heroes willing to face one of life's toughest challenges.

share your journey

Have you lost a significant amount of weight, or did you finally lose those stubborn last 10 pounds? If so, we'd like to hear your story. Tell us in 400 words or less about your weight-loss journey. Send your stories to aharris@bayareanewsgroup.com with the subject line "weight loss story." Include your name, age and city and a contact phone number. Also, send before and after pictures in JPG format, if available.