We are like soldiers going to battle. Each with determined looks and clutched fists reaching out...reaching out to power and confidence. I hear our feet in sync as we march up the hill. We are a force together fighting the enemy.

It all started about three months ago when my husband Jim and I moved to this lovely and scenic community in Florida. It is surrounded by a beautiful Scottish golf course that is named Scotland Yards.

At our first homeowner’s meeting, Diane came to me and introduced herself. She made me feel most welcome as we chatted about various opportunities in the community, such as writing classes, art, water aerobics, cards and more. Then, on a last note, she said that I was welcome to join her walking group. They start off at 6:30am and they would be passing my house about 6:45am. The last thing I wanted to do was walk. It had become boring and isolating in the past, as I would walk through a park that was adjacent to our subdivision in Palm Harbor, Fl. However, I was shocked to hear myself say, “oh, yes, I will be there.” (Prior to this, I was staying up half the night and sleeping until 8:30am or 9:00am.)

Reluctantly and with much will power, I shocked Jim almost into cardiac arrest, as I arose at 5:30am. I made coffee and toast as I tried to work out a story in my mind as to why I could not continue to walk after today. When I bent down to tie my sneakers, I winced at the extra spare tire that had accumulated around my waist. Surely, I could lose this weight on my own and without getting up at daybreak, I told myself.

Nevertheless, as I peered out my glass door, I could see the troops coming. I hurried out to meet them and pasted a smile on my face. There were about 5 of them. They were laughing, talking and most of all walking briskly as I strived to keep up the pace. Just as I was getting used to the pace, we started up this big, long hill. I then realized that this hill was the reason the subdivision was called “The Highlands of Scotland Yards.” I struggled, trying not to let the others hear me gasp for breath. How did I get so out of shape? Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that I was teaching exercise classes and water aerobics. Now, I wouldn’t want to even get in front of a group of people with my expanding body...that was 15 or 20 pounds ago.

The doctor had warned me that when I went on the prescribed medication, I would probably gain up to 30 pounds. “Watch the carbs,” she said, as she scribbled on the pad. That was easy for her to say. I craved cards and ate carbs and gradually the weight came on. Since then, I had tried the South Beach Diet, and my own diet schemes to no avail.

Oh, did I mention that this group invited me to go to weight watchers? I again said, “sure”, as I thought to myself that this would be a good way to get acquainted with the other women. I could always drop out after a couple of weeks. I didn’t really think I could be helped. I thought I was doomed to carry around this unwanted weight.

After the second day of walking my legs were so sore...every step I took was sheer agony. I mentioned this to the girls. Debbie suggested I go to the gym for the bike work-out. She was sure it would work the soreness out. I am thinking to myself “what have I got myself into? Now, I have to go to the gym, too? Ugh!”

Sure enough, Debbie was right. After a few days in the gym, I could walk the hills without any pain.

The thing that really brought my feet to the floor at 5:30am each morning was the wonderful warmth and friendship the girls gave to me. The walks became a social event and a time for talking about recipes, news, or whatever was on your mind.

It is also a spiritual thing for me. The beauty of the sunrise over the hill amidst the fog is awesome. The skies are a different color every day, as if an artist painted them. I found myself excited each morning about walking with these Highland Lassies.

I was assured by weight watchers that if I counted my points and exercised, it would pay off. (I was on the flex plan; the other plan is the core plan.) I could do that for one week and then maybe drop out because I knew I would not lose any weight.

The morning of the second week came all too soon. We all went to weight watchers together. When my turn came, I got on the scale, thankful that no one else except the receptionist could see my weight. She wrote down something on my card that I brought back from the previous week and silently handed it back to me. I glanced at the card, as I went to sit in our “Highlands Group” and was shocked. I had lost 2.4 lbs in one week. The lecture following and the weight watcher recipe exchange enhanced my euphoric feelings even more. I couldn’t believe it

The weeks following were slower losing but steady, averaging about a pound lost every week. (A couple of times I gained a few ounces.) I have lost 9 pounds in 9 weeks.)

One day when we were all walking, I jokingly told Debbie I needed a personal trainer. She wasn’t joking when she answered back and said she would be happy to write a program and even train me. Mariana joined me the first time. Now, there are about 6 of us going to our wonderful work-out room with Debbie twice a week for instructions. Remember, just a few weeks earlier when I went to the gym for my bike work-out, I thought Ugh! I actually heard myself ask Debbie to personal train me at the gym.

It is now 9 weeks since I started walking. Every day I walk with these wonderful friends that support and encourage me. They never judge. They never lecture. They are always positive and encouraging as I take baby steps towards a more active life and a brighter future. Thanks, Zoe, Diane, Nancy, Miriana, Darlene, Debbie and Betty. Thanks for your morning wit and laughter. As we walk together to fight the enemy, (food and being inactive) I feel our combined energy that makes us know we are powerful enough to change our lives from good to super-good.

I have three great rules for successful weight loss:

1.Find a group that will support you in your quest to lose weight
2.Find a group that will support you in your quest to lose weight.
3.Find a group that will support you in your quest to lose weight.

Author's Bio: 

Has an AA Degree from St Petersburg College
Taught Nursery School, Children’s Choir,
Paraprofessional for First Grade

Co-Author of Character Keys to a Bright Future.
Writes poetry, short stories and articles.

Unlimited Minutes published by Taborri.Com
Zach and the Wishing Well by Just for Moms.com. See Zach’s story

Personal: Married, four daughters

Her web site is: www.goodcharacterpress.com
(Good Character Press)