BIGGEST LOSER: Robins cost analyst loses 110 pounds

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 78 ABW/PA
Sometimes all it takes for a person to find the determination and dedication to reach a weight loss goal is a simple wake up call. Natasha Dunomes, a cost analyst in the Financial Management's Acquisition and Cost Division, got that call.

Weighing nearly 250 pounds, weight that was taxing her 5-foot-1 frame, Ms. Dunomes received word in June 2006 that her mother and younger sister had been diagnosed with diabetes. Worrying about her own health, she decided it was time to lose weight.

"My health wasn't good. I was suffering from fatigue and had a severe case of sleep apnea," she said. "When family members were diagnosed with diabetes, it really hit hard. I knew I wanted to get healthier. I have an 8-year-old son and want to be around for him."

So she set some weight loss goals. She started slowly, working out twice a week for 30 minutes. Gradually, she increased the amount and duration of her workouts. When the fitness center annex in Bldg. 301 opened, she started taking the allotted three hours per week administrative leave for physical training. In addition, she was working out at home each night.

She also joined the base Weight Watchers group, which she said was very instrumental in helping her lose weight and keep it off.

"Weight Watchers showed me what to eat and how to eat healthier. Plus, there was a strong support group," she said. "It was really helpful to have a support group and have that accountability. I knew once a week, I'd have to go weigh in and that was motivation to stick to my eating plan."

Another motivator was joining several weight loss challenges. In addition to the AFMC Team Lean challenge, she joined two challenges among her financial management co-workers.

Greg Huttner, chief of FM's Financial Analysis

Division, competed with her in one of the challenges. He said watching her work hard and stick to her plan was inspirational.

"She really drove me to work out harder," Mr. Huttner said. "She was one of the most dedicated persons I've ever seen trying to lose weight and get in shape. She was on a mission. She lost a whole person and it's unbelievable."

Mr. Huttner, who used the motivation to help him lose 32 pounds of his own, said he was not only impressed with the weight loss, but with Ms. Dunomes's attitude throughout the process. "She always stayed so positive."

That positive attitude was mostly a credit to her personality, but Ms. Dunomes said she hasn't always been that way.

"Being overweight, I was usually in a drowsy, depressed state," she said. "Now I have more confidence. I am more bubbly and energetic. It's like I have new life in me. I have a renewed love for myself."

Kimberly Dickerson, chief of FM's Acquisition and Cost Division and Ms. Dunomes's supervisor, said the work ethic exhibited was nothing more than amazing.

"She's an inspiration to me," Ms. Dickerson said. "She didn't try any of the gimmicks or fad diets. Her weight loss is a result of truly hard work. She's going to the gym. She's watching what she eats. To lose weight, you really have to plan and prepare and work hard, and she did an excellent job of doing that. A lot of us just don't have that kind of dedication."

Ms. Dickerson said she's lost 20 pounds as a result of Ms. Dunomes's example. "She has helped me and has tried to help each of us on the right path."

Ms. Dunomes has gone from a 22 dress size to an eight, a 16-month transformation that has been truly incredible. She said her renewed energy, new-found confidence and increased health have all been rewarding, but it really didn't sink in until a visit to the doctor's office.

"The doctor said to me, 'Do you know you just saved your life?' That was amazing. This has been a life changing journey," she said.

When asked what advice she would give to others who are trying to lose weight and improve health, Ms. Dunomes said, "If I can do it, so can you. You really have to make up within your mind you want to lose weight. Once you get that in your head, it's basically taking it one day at a time and being consistent. If you continue with your daily walk with making strives to be healthier, you will be successful."