PLATTSBURGH — When she was just 20 years old, Alyssa O’Brien’s doctor told her she needed medication to control her blood pressure.
She weighed 270 pounds and had experienced a lack of energy, as well as depression and anxiety that at times were so severe that she could not leave her bed for days at a time, she told the 300 guests at the Go Red for Women dinner at West Side Ballroom in Plattsburgh.
“I hit a wall, and I decided it was time (to change),” O’Brien told the Press-Republican before she delivered her speech.
The Plattsburgh woman, 22, had been overweight her whole life.
“Throughout my teens, I was a big overeater.”
She said she wanted to change her lifestyle while she was young before she saw serious problems down the road.
At first, O’Brien dieted without exercising and lost about 15 pounds before a friend convinced her to join a gym.
“It’s very motivating to do it with a friend,” O’Brien said.
But the process wasn’t easy.
‘HAVE TO WANT IT’
“There were times I wanted to quit,” she said. “You have to want it, and you have to be willing to wake up every single day and go for a run” or do some other kind of exercise.
But her determination to see herself healthy kept her going, and she lost 90 pounds in just one year.
And her blood pressure is now at a healthy level, she said.
O’Brien cut refined sugars and processed foods out of her diet and continues to eat gluten-free whole foods almost exclusively.
“I never thought it was possible to feel this good,” she said.
The symptoms of depression and anxiety she had felt before losing weight are almost gone now, O’Brien said.
Suzette Pavone, chair of the event, lost her father to a massive heart attack when she was 29 years old.