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Published August 01, 2013, 10:00 PM

Holt: Zumba, healthy eating help Fargo woman lose 100 pounds

FARGO – Molly Gravalin didn’t lose 100 pounds, she got rid of it. “You don’t want to ‘lose’ it, because that indicates that you might find it again,” she says.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

FARGO – Molly Gravalin didn’t lose 100 pounds, she got rid of it.

“You don’t want to ‘lose’ it, because that indicates that you might find it again,” she says.

The 28-year-old Fargo woman started her weight-loss journey in February 2012, when she was 9 pounds away from 300.

“I swore I would never get to 300 pounds. Once I saw that I was almost there, I was done,” she says.

She thought of her efforts as a lifestyle change, not a diet. “Diet” sounds like a short-term solution to a long-term problem, she says.

“I’m never going to one day be able to eat the way I used to again,” she says. “Being healthy is never ‘over.’ ”

Knowing she’d increase her chances of keeping the weight off by doing so, Molly took it slow.

She exercised three to five times a week, primarily walking or doing a workout DVD.

“I walked off my first 60 pounds,” she says.

Later she gave in to a friend trying to convince her to give Zumba a try.

“I thought I was going to keel over after the first 30 minutes, but I made it through the hour and left the class completely in love,” she says.

At first, she followed along in the corner of the back row, but she no longer has qualms about sweating it out up front with the instructor. Now she’s the friend trying to convince others to give Zumba a try.

“I have never found another exercise that kicks my butt so hard while I’m having such a blast,” she says.

But Molly knew she couldn’t rely on exercise alone to reach her goals.

“You have to change your diet. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet,” she says.

Bit by bit, she switched from high-fat, high-calorie foods to primarily clean eating.

Gradually, Molly’s tastes and preferences changed.

“I learned to love broccoli as much as I love Taco Bell,” she says.

When her co-workers are ordering Domino’s, she’ll stick with her packed lunch.

“It’s easier now to say no. The longer you’re in it, the easier it gets. It just becomes second nature,” she says.

However, she doesn’t completely deprive herself of treats and splurges now and then.

“It’s 80 percent eating well, 20 percent doing what you want,” she says.

She tracks everything with a smartphone app but doesn’t obsess over it.

“If I eat more calories than My Fitness Pal tells me to, it’s not the end of the world,” she says.

When she started, she gave up Duane’s Pizza. But when she hit the 100-pound mark, she went back and had some.

“I had Duane’s, and I regret nothing,” she says with a laugh.

Molly, who once wore tight-fitting size-26 pants, now wears a “comfy size 10,” and she’s about to drop another size.

It’s not just her pants she’s more comfortable in. She’s much more comfortable in her own skin.

“My emotional state and general outlook on life are 110 percent better than they were before,” she says.

She says the physical benefits of her weight loss are great but the emotional benefits have had more of an impact.

“I’m still on my journey, but it isn’t about getting ‘skinny’ as much as it once was; it’s slowly evolved into being happy with who I am and knowing I’m taking care of myself the best way I possibly can,” she says.

Do you have a weight-loss story to tell? Email me at mholt@forumcomm.com.

Forum reporter Meredith Holt lost over 100 pounds between 2010 and 2012. She shares stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.