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Marie Knecht

Marie Knecht
Lost 50 Pounds!
Before: 198 lbs.
After: 148 lbs.
Lost: 50 lbs.

Hi! I'm Marie Knecht, but you know me as SoapOpera1! I'm not only a member of Richard's Clubhouse; I'm also a member of Slimmons! I'm 49 years old, and I've been married to my husband, Jeffrey, for 6 years. We met 8 years ago, playing music with the Los Angeles Pierce College Symphonic Winds. I play the euphonium, and Jeffrey plays the clarinet. I also have a 31-year-old horse, Wendy, and I love to spend time with her. I spend my days taking care of my mother and managing her apartment building, while trying to get my new business as a personal trainer and aerobics instructor off the ground.

"It's a great feeling of accomplishment to be where I want to be!"

I was overweight as a child. Even as early as age 9 or 10, I had to shop at Lane Bryant, because I could no longer fit into regular clothes. I felt awful! By the time I was 12, I was 170 pounds. I stayed overweight through high school. My father was a P.E. teacher in Poland, and he always tried to tell me to exercise, but I didn't take his advice. I was always trying to hide the weight, so I wore pants all the time.

I hated being overweight, because I had to eat healthy food, and I wanted to eat donuts and other junk food. I was a real "candy-holic"! Throughout high school, I would eat the healthy lunch my mom made me, and then my friend and I would get French fries and ice cream and eat that, too!

In the early eighties, I saw Richard on "The Richard Simmons Show," and I went to his show. I joined the Richard Simmons Anatomy Asylum and met Richard, and I started using his program. At that same time, I got into snow skiing, and I joined two ski clubs. I loved it! I went skiing in Mammoth every weekend for the whole season, and I even got the "Racer of the Year Award" in one of the clubs! I lost 40 pounds, and I felt really good!

About that time, I got injured doing aerobics, so I had to limit my workouts to weight training. Then I kind of let myself go. By the late 80's or early 90's, I had started eating badly again, and I gained the weight back. Over the next several years, I went up and down. I would lose 10 pounds; then put it back on.

I joined the Los Angeles Pierce Symphonic Winds in 1995. I met Jeffrey, and we started eating out a lot. We loved foods like fried calamari, sushi, seafood, pizza, and ravioli. We ate these foods in portions that were much too big, and I ate lots of cookies, cake, and candy, too. My mom would buy those things for herself, and I would go down and look in her cabinets and think, "Hmm, what does she have that I'd like to eat?" There was nothing balanced about the way Jeffrey and I were eating. Both of us were very heavy.

By the time Jeffrey asked me to marry him in December of 1997, my weight was up to 198. We planned our wedding for May 30, 1998, but when I went to buy a wedding dress, nothing would fit me. I had to go to a wedding store and rent a dress! It was a size 18. I was so embarrassed! I had never had to wear a size 18 in my life. Even with the size 18, they had to add extra material to the zipper because it wouldn't close. I felt terrible! I said, "I've got to do something," and that's when I went back to Richard!

I started the FoodMover at 198 pounds. I had a bad right knee and a bad right ankle, but I did standing aerobics the best I could. I was also weight lifting again, but I was also having problems with my wrist. My weight started dropping! I saw it go from 198 to 194, and eventually, I hit the 175-185 range! Then I hit a plateau, and I stayed there for a year. I was eating out a lot and not exercising enough. Honestly, I was playing games with the FoodMover! You can't do that if you want to lose weight.

By early 2000, I started having stomach problems. I have acid reflux disease, and I just recently was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, and I wasn't feeling well at all. I said, "I have to start eating healthier and watching my portions, and I have to exercise!" I started buying exercise equipment to use in my home. I basically have my own gym in my house now!

Slowly, the weight started to come off! I lost 1 to 1-1/2 pounds a week, depending on how much exercise I did. In addition to eating the right foods in the right portions, the exercise is the key! I started seeing muscle tone and definition throughout my whole body! The outline of my quadriceps appeared; then the definition in my biceps and triceps. Now I'm starting to get the outline of the muscles in my abs. I haven't been this weight since I was in my 20's!

Because of my acid reflux and hiatal hernia, I can't eat any raw vegetables, so I steam everything from chicken, fish, and turkey to vegetables like string beans, asparagus, and carrots, to starches like sweet potatoes, yams, and even spinach pasta! You have to keep variety in your choices, or you'll get bored.

I'm still eating out, but I really watch it now. I just tell the waitress exactly what I want! I'll have something like an egg white omelet with steamed vegetables added to it and an English muffin with strawberry jam and some fruit. I'll have the chicken and only eat 2 ounces of it and take the rest home. If it's late at night, I'll have the steamed vegetables instead of the bread. I'm really trying to work it this time!

I keep my portions smaller and spread my food throughout the day. I eat every 3 or 4 hours to keep my metabolism moving. I have these small Tupperware bowls that are just right for my portions, and if I'm going to be out of the house, I carry my meals with me in a cooler. If I have a microwave to warm them, fine; but if not, I just eat them cold, because I know I'm getting a healthy meal.

My initial goal was to get down to 150, so I've now surpassed that goal! My next goal is to see what I look like at 140 pounds. I'm almost there! I've gone from a size 18 to a size 12 pants. When I went to Target to buy some new aerobic clothes, I took a large and an extra large into the dressing room, and they were too big! I can't wear a large anymore! I got a medium. I have clothes in my closet that are size 16 and size 14 that I will donate to a charity. It's a great feeling of accomplishment to be where I want to be!

I feel so much healthier! I don't have the acid reflux and the heartburn in my chest. I'm chewing my food rather than gobbling it whole, and it goes down much more smoothly!

Richard inspired me to go on and get the AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) certification to become an aerobics instructor. I did that last year on my birthday! When I went up to do the practical test, I said with a big smile on my face, "Hi, my name is Marie, and it's my birthday!" The teacher was smiling, too. I passed! I was shocked, because I haven't been in school since 1978. After that, I went on to pass the Personal Training Certification! That was a big accomplishment.

In April, 2004, I went to Richard's first Hoot Camp! I learned so much, particularly about my teaching persona. Smiling and being silly makes your students feel comfortable, and it makes your classes fun like Richard's! Now I'm also certified as an aquatic instructor. Currently I teach senior fitness and aqua aerobics for 24 Hour Fitness, and I love it!

I want to train anybody who is interested in training, but I'm especially drawn to training seniors, because they get neglected. I'm going to have business cards made, and my doctors have already asked me for my card, because they want to refer patients to me!

If you really want to lose weight, you have to take it seriously! You really have to eat smaller portions. You have to exercise and change up your routine. Every day, do something different so you won't get bored. Keep your motivation up! Make a couple days of meals to have ready when you're hungry. I suggest buying small storage bowls that are the right size for your portions and getting a cooler that you can use to carry your meals with you when you have to be out. That way, you won't be tempted to eat fast foods.

You can do it, and remember, YOU ARE WORTH IT!


1. You have to take this seriously! Don't play games with the FoodMover. Stick to your portions.

2. Change up your exercise routine so you don't get bored.

3. Eat smaller portions throughout the day. I eat every 3-4 hours so my metabolism keeps moving!