Drastic weight loss is never any easy undertaking. But when Alicia Maestri ’07 was faced with potentially devastating health conditions due to her weight, she knew she had to make a change.
For Alicia, the impetus to change her life came after a visit to the doctor’s office. After not being able to be weighed on the doctor’s scale—which only went as high as 350 pounds—Alicia was told she was being considered for high blood pressure medication. And that wasn’t all.
“My gynecologist told me that, given my weight and condition, she wasn’t sure that I would be able to have children someday. I was killing myself,” Alicia explained.
The news was devastating—“I left her office in tears,” Alicia said—but rather than seeking solace in food, the assessment inspired the education student to make a change. “[I] threw out the ‘emergency’ boxes of granola bars and snack cakes I kept on my back seat to bring to classes, and joined Weight Watchers with a friend.”
Over the next three years, Alicia lost an amazing 172 pounds. The benefits of the weight loss have been endless, she said.
“The physical abilities and activities that I can engage in now—well, that’s nothing short of a miracle considering that I could not walk up a flight of stairs without taking a breather just four years ago,” Alicia said.
Alicia submitted her remarkable story to Weight Watchers, and ended up winning one of the program’s inspiring story contests. This led to an appearance on Bravo network’s Project Runway. The episode in which Alicia appeared featured women who had lost a considerable amount of weight, and the designers’ challenge was to create a new outfit out of their old “before” clothing.
“After the episode aired, a producer from The Today Show saw me…and thought I would be perfect for Joy Bauer’s Joy Fit Club.” Alicia said. “I was inducted into the elite club—members who have lost over 100 pounds through diet and exercise with no pills and no surgery.”
Through her television appearances, Alicia was shaping herself into a role model for people striving to lose weight. During her senior year of college, Alicia took up running as a way to further her weight-loss goals. She soon found out that her new hobby could be used to help others as well.
One day, she came across a Team in Training brochure for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Participants in the charity sports training program compete in marathons, half marathons, triathlons, 100-mile century bike rides, and hiking adventures in an effort to raise money for LLS.
“I thought, ‘Wow, what a way to help others by doing something that I’ve learned to embrace in my everyday life,’” Alicia said. “Especially considering the fact that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society wanted to help others regain their health, I knew that it was something I wanted to do. I personally knew what it was like to regain one’s health, and I wanted others to have that opportunity.”
This important lesson—to help others by doing something you already do—is one Alicia plans to teach her future students. Incorporating this message into her teachings is a way to motivate her students to reach above and beyond what is expected of them, she explained.
Alicia continues to run, and last spring successfully completed her first half-marathon. “It was an utterly amazing experience,” she said. “I ran beside people who’ve lost their children, spouses, and parents in the fight against cancer. I ran past a little boy on the sidelines who shouted ‘thank you’ to my teammates and I as we ran by.”
“Each time I consider those [old] behaviors, I look down at the team bracelet I wear,” Alicia continued. “It reminds me that I’m running to help others. If I make myself sick, I can’t fulfill that mission. It truly has turned my life back in the right direction.”