CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Patricia Keeling lost more than one-fifth of her body weight in a recent weight-loss challenge.
"Never in a million years did I think I'd lose this much," said Keeling, 57, of Tornado. "I have been fat all my life."
Keeling participated in a "Biggest Loser" weight-loss contest held for employees of West Virginia University's Health Sciences Center in Charleston and Charleston Area Medical Center.
The contest began Feb. 19 and has continued for the past 12 weeks.
Keeling, an account assistant at CAMC's General Hospital, is one of more than 200 employees who participated in the 90-day challenge to exercise and improve their diets.
Participants paid a $25 entry fee, which was pooled as prize money for winners, and weighed in weekly.
Through dieting, exercise and using weekly tips supplied by the CAMC wellness program MyHealth, contestants collectively shed more than one ton of weight.
"I am proud to announce that in our 12 weeks, as a group, we shed 2,072 pounds," said Dr. John Linton, co-chair of the Wellness Committee for WVU Charleston Division.
"That's equivalent of the car you see on display here today. Congratulations to everyone who participated in this effort."
The 4-foot-11-inch Keeling started off at 181 pounds. So far, she has lost 40 pounds, half of her goal.
"It's wonderful. I can bend over without my head falling off; I can tie my own shoes; I can walk up steps without gasping for breath," she said.
"It's just been really different. I can go to the store and buy something off the rack that isn't a 3X. The weight loss makes me feel really good."
Keeling became involved after a group in her office decided to participate in the challenge and win the prize money.
"Our basic goal was to try and get healthier and eat healthier," Keeling said. "We had an ideal protein diet managed by a doctor in Cross Lanes. And we go every week to weigh in.
"We just paid attention to portion control . . . We're not doing a lot of exercise yet because of the low calorie intake, but we're going to start walking."
Keeling said trying to lose weight was different this time as she had support from her family and at work. She had to be supportive of co-workers, too.