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Slow but Sure; How I Lost 170 Pounds With the Help of God, Family, Family Circle Magazine, and Richard Simmons

Slow but Sure; How I Lost 170 Pounds With the Help of God, Family, Family Circle Magazine, and Richard Simmons

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by Sandra Dalka-Prysby

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Slow But Sure is the inspirational account of an ordinary woman who took charge of her life and achieved extraordinary success.

In 1993 Sandra Dalka-Prysby, of Beverly Hills, Michigan, was a forty-eight-year-old wife and mother to three teenagers. Standing 5 feet 7 inches tall, she weighed 325 pounds and smoked up to three packs of cigarettes a day.


Slow But Sure is the inspirational account of an ordinary woman who took charge of her life and achieved extraordinary success.

In 1993 Sandra Dalka-Prysby, of Beverly Hills, Michigan, was a forty-eight-year-old wife and mother to three teenagers. Standing 5 feet 7 inches tall, she weighed 325 pounds and smoked up to three packs of cigarettes a day.

But Sandy loved life. She wanted to be there when her children became adults, participating fully in her family's joys and triumphs. So she vowed to take charge of her eating habits, give up cigarettes, and lose 150 pounds. And within four years—with the help of God, to whom she often prayed for strength; her family, who gave ongoing love and support; the editors of Family Circle magazine, who provided her with a nutritionist while chronicling her weight-loss for their millions of readers; and diet and exercise guru Richard Simmons, who stepped in when Sandy had reached a discouraging plateau—she exceeded her goal. Giving up the cigarettes turned out to be the easy part, but by 1997 Sandy had at last succeeded in losing 170 pounds. And she has kept the weight off ever since.

A self-proclaimed PD (Professional Dieter), Sandy is an unimpeachable witness to the struggles that many women (and men) will recognize from their own lives. Slow But Sure chronicles her journey to good health, during which she learned the value of sound nutrition and regular exercise. Re-creating her journal entries, she bares all—the small triumphs and treacherous detours, the fears, the embarrassments, and the joy. With total honesty she speaks to all people who, like herself, have despaired of everlosing weight, and assures them that they, too, can succeed.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An upbeat woman's astonishingly frank weight-loss-journal-cum-how-to-manual replete with binges and guilt, personal victories and discouraging setbacks, embarrassing moments, and ultimate success. With her 50th birthday on the horizon, freelance writer Dalka-Prysby, eager to slim down from an unhealthy 310 pounds (her all-time high had been 325), enlisted the aid of Family Circle editors in her campaign to shed her "mountain of fat." They not only featured her story in a series of articles beginning with the January 1994 issue, but also arranged television appearances on the Maury Povich Show and the QVC shopping network. For her part, Dalka-Prysby hired a nutritionist to help her with an eating plan and a stop-smoking campaign. A local health club gave her a free membership and a trainer to oversee her exercise program, plus her own exercise class for overweight women (WOWS, for Work Out With Sandra). With this kind of support (and pressure), success might seem assured, but Dalka-Prysby's tale is one of hard work and determination. She recorded her progress or sometimes her lack of it in a diary, excerpts of which make up a large portion of the present work. Her shame after scarfing down an entire Sara Lee cake and her joy when finally able to cross her legs or bend over and tie her own shoes will resonate with readers who've been there. Interspersed among the journal entries are straightforward how-to advice, the author's thoughts on such issues as sabotage and self-esteem, and a few letters between her and the cloying Richard Simmons, who was brought in to jump-start her progress when it stalled after the first two years. Countering quick-weight-loss schemes and fad-diet promotions,Dalka-Prysby's message is a sane one: slow and steady wins the race. A motivational read, full of good advice, yet funny too. .

Product Details

Random House, Incorporated
Publication date:
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6.38(w) x 9.54(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

On Friday, New Year's Day, 1993, I began a diet--my final attempt to realize good health. I thought I had reached the "enough is enough" point. I thought I was ready for success.

I was wrong. In the weeks that followed I goofed so many times that I spent the first few months of the year riddled with guilt. I did manage to take off, put on, and take off 15 pounds, but it wasn't easy. It was the same old battle I had fought for years, I was discouraged. I thought this time would be different.

By May 1993, I was 310 pounds and extremely depressed. In a few weeks we would be taking a family trip to Washington, D.C. How could I walk around the nation's capital and visit all the monuments? My excess weight was restricting my movements in our own home. It would wreck the family's vacation!

My 160-pound husband told me not to worry. He would take the children sight-seeing. I could relax, he said. But I didn't. How had I reached the point where I could no longer share things with my family? What kind of wife and mother was I?

Sight-seeing wasn't my only concern about going to Washington. While there, we would be staying with a former boyfriend of mine. We hadn't seen each other for years (I was under 200 pounds at our last meeting) and I was embarrassed. What would he think of me? Why did I get so fat?

The other concern involved my son, a wonderful then-thirteen-year-old. Our trip was planned around his Odyssey of the Mind world competition at the University of Maryland. I had coached his seven-member team and it had a good chance to win the finals. If they won, I would have to accompany the team up onstage to accept the award before an audience ofthousands. (I wasn't sure I could even climb the steps to the stage.) I didn't want my son to be ashamed of me. I even thought of saying a prayer that the team wouldn't win. Now I really felt guilty! How could I have done this (gained so much weight) to myself and to my children, my wonderful children?

As the vacation drew closer, my questions multiplied. "Why?" "Why?" "Why?" The one question that kept coming to the forefront was "Why can't I lose weight?" I needed an answer, but, more important, I needed to dig deep inside myself and find the commitment, the strength, the motivation to succeed. I knew I needed to lose weight; I wanted to lose weight, but did I really want to do what was necessary to achieve this goal?

For the rest of the month, I spent some time each day concentrating on my strengths and asking God for help. Many times a day I looked at myself in the mirror and said out loud that I was worth good health. I worked on liking myself and, by taking a little time, I discovered that I not only liked myself, but I also loved my essence--that specialness that is me alone. (I continue these rituals daily and believe these efforts are what keeps the motivation in place.)

I dug deep inside myself and eliminated all the excuses ("my child is sick," "my husband lost his job," "my mother doesn't understand," "my children weren't good today," "I'm tired," and a million more) that had resulted in past diet failures. Instead, I concentrated on past successes and reviewed what it had taken to succeed.

Could I do it again? Could I lose weight finally and forever?

One day I awoke with such positive feelings that it was almost as if I had been "touched by an angel." (Too bad it wasn't the "fat fairy"--you know, the one with the magic wand who takes away all the fat while you're sleeping! The one who had never visited my house, but whom I continued to dream about and wish for... that is, until this day!) For whatever reason, when I awoke on May 26, 1993, I knew totally and deeply that I had reached the point where enough was enough. Also, I knew--deep down--that I would succeed. Slowly but surely I would lose weight and get fit.

But how?

I decided to seek help from my family and friends. I also decided to take a really big step and ask Family Circle magazine for help. That very morning I wrote to the editors of this popular women's magazine and made the following suggestion:

I propose that Family Circle help a forty-eight-year-old mother of three children save her life. The woman, an active and popular suburban at-home mom, is 150 pounds overweight and smokes up to three packs of cigarettes a day. She has spent more than thirty-five years on reducing diets--some successful for a while, some not. She has also tried for five years to give up smoking.

This woman is one and a half years away from her fiftieth birthday and knows if she doesn't do something now, she may not have another chance. She needs help to accomplish this major project. I propose that
Family Circle provide her with a nutritionist, a diet plan, a smoke-ending program, and, more important, a medium to tell her story and struggles and provide her with someone (your readers) to whom she's accountable.

This woman wants to lose weight and give up smoking for herself. She wants to feel, look, and be healthy so that she can live a long life and enjoy her family.

I am this woman. I am the one who needs help, and I'm desperate.

Family Circle agreed to help. The magazine would pay for a nutritionist, who could also help eliminate the cigarettes, and I would share my challenge with its readers. It would take a few months to get everything in place. In the meantime, I stayed at 310 pounds. I ate and decided to wait.

I started my program in September 1993 and in January 1994 the magazine announced my 150-pound-weight-loss goal, complete with a photo of me in a leotard and tights. I was exposed. I was now "public." There was no turning back. I had to succeed, and I would!

Over the past five years Family Circle's readers have followed my progress. Viewers have seen me on The Maury Povich Show and other national television shows. Both readers and viewers have learned how Richard Simmons, one of the world's best fitness experts and motivators, has joined me, thanks to Family Circle, in my quest for success. He's helped me get to the finish line (and past it) and he's helping me keep the weight off.

I've lost 170 pounds, and because I followed a "slow but sure" philosophy, I've changed my whole life and lifestyle.

You, too, can change your lifestyle and, in turn, your life. This book will help you to achieve your own success in losing weight and getting fit. It contains my journal notes, lots of tips that have enabled me to reach success, and the knowledge that I have acquired during the past five years.

I didn't achieve this weight loss without a struggle. Experts didn't do it all for me. I worked very hard not to eat the pizza that my three teenagers brought into the house. It was especially hard to be "good" when my husband lost still another job during my battle. (We have now discovered he has severe attention deficit disorder, the reason for his job losses. Medication and counseling are helping.) I had to acquire special stamina when family and friends tried to sabotage my efforts (something they still do). I had to push myself--and still do--out of the house to go to the school track or the health club and walk three or four miles a day... or to get out of the chair and pop a Richard Simmons aerobic tape into my VCR and dance and stretch for forty minutes in my family room.

It hasn't been easy, but getting healthy and fit is doable. And I'm no different from you. I'm just your average wife and mother, your next-door neighbor, with all the same problems you have. The only difference is that I have learned, with a slow but sure approach, how to lose weight and get fit.

If I can do it, so can you!

Incidentally, the whole family had a wonderful time in Washington. I pushed myself and went on some of the sight-seeing trips with my husband and kids. The old boyfriend, although surprised by my weight gain, said I was as charming as ever (he's the charmer). And my son's team won the Odyssey of the Mind World Championship and I made it, although slowly, with my son at my side, up the steps to the stage for the awards presentation.

Meet the Author

Sandra Dalka-Prysby, a freelance writer, lives in Beverly Hills, Michigan, with her husband and three children.  She has been profiled in Family Circle on several occasions; has appeared twice on "The Maury Povich Show," and three times on QVC with Richard Simmons.  Slow But Sure is her first book.

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Slow but Sure; How I Lost 170 Pounds With the Help of God, Family, Family Circle Magazine, and Richard Simmons 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book and immediately related to Sandra's experiences. I think this book is very easy reading and easily applicable to most women's lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this book in one day! Very inspiring!!  I highly recommend!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Congratulations to Sandra whose 'Slow But Sure' provides a sane and realistic guide to confronting a weight problem. In my efforts to deal with my weight, I have purchased and read a myriad of diet and weight books, many of which are now used merely as door-stops. Most of them provided unrealistic and unhealthy programs, and none of them included honest descriptions of what it's like to be obese and the problems one faces while trying to reduce, nor did they include tips on how to cope or suggestions for how to personalize your plan. Sandra's book did. Without being boring or long-winded, 'Slow But Sure' supplies the reader with sound, accurate information for a healthy eating plan as well as exercising - which many books skip or gloss over as exercising is seen to be unpalatable and unappealing. It is, however, one of the keys to a successful weight reduction plan. Her descriptions of her trials and difficulties, both with the dieting and with day-to-day living itself, were very encouraging as they confirmed that this book is indeed written by a lady who has gone through it and is writing from experience and knowledge. This was very comforting and reassuring to me as I've also experienced some of the things mentioned. This is exactly who we need to provide us with usable information on how to lose weight. I feel that only a person who has lived it can understand the challenges, problems, difficulties and discrimination an obese person faces daily. Sandra provides intelligent and reliable tools and advice in a upbeat, humorous and honest way. The many photos are also much appreciated - they were inspirational and encouraging as, from photo to photo, Sandra shrank. I was privileged to be able to speak with Sandra and can confirm that she is intelligent, caring, empatheitc and knowledgeable and is truly one of the nicest people I've ever spoken to. As Kirkus Reviews states, this book is 'a motivational read, full of good advice, yet funny too.'. My own copy of 'Slow But Sure' is now tattered and dog-eared from many re-readings. To all of you future purchasers of the book - I assure you that this book is well worth your money and is in fact cheap at twice the price. Get your copy and start reading without delay
Guest More than 1 year ago
I intend to re-read this book as soon as I get the chance. I found Sandra to be a wonderful inspiration to those of us who struggle constantly with weight. I felt sad when she slipped, and really cheered for her when she was doing well. I think anybody who has a problem with overeating will find this book very helpful, and will find some real answers between these covers. I have tried so many times to lose weight and have for whatever reason ended up right where I started. I think I will try some of Sandra's tips, and I will keep reminding myself that slow an easy wins the race!