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Published October 31, 2013, 03:34 PM

Holt: Walking, support help Fargo woman maintain weight

FARGO – While on vacation in September, Diana Barta and her husband walked over 80 miles.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

FARGO – While on vacation in September, Diana Barta and her husband walked over 80 miles.

They made a point to walk to each destination, like Mont Saint-Michel in France, to make their trip to Europe a “walking holiday.”

They wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Walking is a daily activity for Fargo couple Diana and Gary, who use the time to de-stress and reconnect after work.

“We have an hour to an hour and 20 minutes of pure one-on-one time,” she says.

Along with a healthy diet, 48-year-old Diana credits her walking routine for her ability to maintain her 65-pound weight loss for more than 10 years.

“If you just get into the habit and the routine of it, it’s very easy to do, and that’s kind of helped me keep off the weight,” she says.

Diana is one of about 100 KLJ employees who track their steps with a pedometer and an online corporate wellness program called Sonic Boom.

She currently averages 8,821 steps a day, with a goal of 10,000. She reached her personal best of 26,108, or about 12 miles, while touring London.

Tracking has brought out her competitive side.

“I have younger staff who say, ‘Oh gee, Diana’s in her late 40s and she can still put on more miles in a day than I do,’ ” she says.

Diana’s focus has inspired other KLJ employees to lose weight and get healthy, and her story was featured on MSN’s Fitbie.com in April.

However, her weight-loss journey started long before she joined the engineering, surveying and planning firm in 2007.

Growing up in Elbow Lake, Minn., weight wasn’t a problem for Diana, but college changed that.

Years of bingeing on pizza and pasta, yo-yo dieting and not exercising got her to her highest weight of 200 pounds.

“I was at a point where I didn’t like the way I looked in the mirror,” she says.

She counted calories when she started making changes in 2002, but now her way of eating is so ingrained she doesn’t need to.

Diana eats several small meals a day and keeps her portion sizes small.

At work, she eats snacks like bananas, almonds and granola bars to help keep her going, and she tries not to eat past 7 p.m.

“Shifting calories to earlier in the day gives you time to burn them off,” she says.

At dinnertime, she and Gary avoid carbs and focus on meat and veggies, sometimes adding brown rice, quinoa or couscous.

When they go out to eat, they often split a meal.

“Luckily, when you get to the point where you’re maintaining for a long time, you know that you can splurge and have dessert one night if you split a meal,” she says.

Diana says having a partner who has the same attitude toward food helps her stay on track. Her first husband was very much a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy.

“It was really tough to diet because he didn’t have to diet,” she says. “I was always the one watching the calories.”

By the time she started at KLJ, she was down from 200 pounds to 150, and she lost 15 more after joining Sonic Boom.

In the office, Diana’s open to talking to anyone about their struggles with diet and exercise.

“It’s a tough thing for somebody to go through by themselves. You have to have a buddy to talk to,” she says.

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

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590.