Stephanie Ray after losing 215 pounds.
Stephanie Ray keeps it in her pocketbook, an old photo of herself at 500 pounds.
“It’s my motivation,” she said. “I keep that handy.”
Ray’s scale now reads 285, a whopping 215 pounds less than her peak weight.
“I like to say I’ve lost a whole fat person,” she said over breakfast, which consisted of a small bowl of fruit, grits, eggs and one slice of toast.
Ray said her weight began spiraling out of control after she got a desk job at a local auto body shop and quit going dancing with friends. Five years ago, when the near crippling effects of such excessive weight gain became too much, Ray took the first steps towards her weight loss journey. Since then the Pickens resident has lost every single pound the old-fashioned way, with healthy diet and exercise.
To date, Ray has participated in fifteen 5k road races and is proud she has shaved off over 20 minutes from her race time in the past year. The Catching the Cure 5K is coming on September 8th, thanks to Ray's work.
“My first 5K was 1 hour and 20 minutes,” Ray said. “The last one I did was 58 minutes and 45 seconds. There are still people faster than me, but I’m moving along. I just stick my headphones on and go.”
In addition to walking three miles, four days a week, Ray is now enrolled at an area gym and attends a weekly healthy eating class called CHOICES at Jasper Seventh-Day Adventist Church and School. Each week, she and other participants learn how to eat well and have a weekly weigh-in to keep them on track.
“It’s free, unless you gain weight. You only have to pay if you gain, a dollar a pound, and I’ve only done that once,” she said.
Ray says she now keeps her and her husband’s pantry stocked with healthy food, and they only eat out on very special occasions. Ray said her own eating habits have even rubbed off on her spouse, who is now 40 pounds lighter.
Last October, Ray was featured in a Progress article that encouraged people struggling with weight loss to sign up for a local 5k event and kick-start their weight loss goals. Since that time, Ray has kept to that path, shedding almost 40 more pounds. She said she wants to continue to encourage others, showing them weight loss does not have to be a fantasy.
“I feel good,” said Ray, who no longer has high cholesterol and expects to come off her blood pressure medicine very soon. “As soon as I dropped below 300 pounds, I instantly felt better. I was happy. Getting down to 300 pounds was my original goal, so now I guess my goal is 200.”
Ray said the most exciting part of her weight loss, beyond feeling better, having more energy and being generally in a better mood, was the first time she could purchase clothes in a retail store.
“In that photo, I was wearing a 6X shirt,” she said. “You have to order those online, and they are insanely expensive. I’ve paid $40 for just a regular old shirt.”
Now Ray wears a 3X, and in July of this year, was able to go shopping at Walmart.
“Most people don’t get excited about shopping at Walmart,” she said, “but that was a big deal for me to be able to pay $15 for pants and $7 for shirts.”
After participating in over a dozen 5Ks on her own, Ray is now organizing a race called “Catching the Cure 5K,” which will benefit the Susan G. Komen three-day breast cancer walk. The 5K will start at R&R Body Shop on Refuge Road on September 8. The race begins at 8 a.m., with registration starting at 7 a.m. and the 1 Mile Fun Run beginning at 9 a.m.
“I’ve got a friend who is walking in the Susan G. Komen race, but when you register, you agree to raise $2,300. The money from the 5K will support that,” she said.
You can pick up an entry form for the Catching the Cure 5K at R&R Body Shop, or call 706-692-2088 for more information or www.rrbodyshop.com.
An entry form is on page 2B of this week’s edition and is available at
Registration is due by August 24 for a guaranteed t-shirt. The registration fee is $25 before August 24, and $30 on the day of registration. Teams of five or more are $20 per person.
“Oh yeah, there have been times when I don’t want to go walk or I want to eat really bad,” Ray said, offering advice to others struggling with losing weight, “but sometimes you just say, OK, I’m going to eat bad this one day. I think if you don’t allow that, sometimes you’ll just stop altogether. So just take a day off and get back to it.”