BEATING OBESITY: Sasser drops 140 pounds

Published 2:39 am Saturday, September 2, 2017

Three years ago, Ashley Sasser went to a dance exercise class, stood on the back row, and

“I was always the ‘big friend,’ ”Ashley Sasser said.

But she never worried about being overweight, she said, until she got older.

“You get married, you’re happy and you gain weight,” she said.

In the summer of 2014, Sasser made up her mind to get serious about her health. She was carrying extra weight after her third pregnancy, and weighed more than 300 pounds.

A friend from work encouraged her to join a dance exercise class at Andalusia Health and Fitness.

“I put the My Fitness Pal app on my phone,” she said. “I counted calories, logged every meal and every snack, and worked out three or four times a week.

“My husband (Christopher Sasser) was very supportive and helpful and really encouraged me to go,” she said.

And while it might have seemed as if dad was helping out for mom, everyone in the family benefitted from her exercise, she said.

“I was less stressed and able to do more for them,” she said. “It was an hour I had to myself, and we all encouraged each other.”

And for Sasser, exercise became an addiction.

Now 140 pounds lighter, she teaches the class where she once stood on the back row trying to keep up.

“I went from the back row to the front row to teaching,” she said. “It’s dance fitness, so we play upbeat music, do dance routines, work with some weights, and spend some time on the floor for abdominal work. It’s both cardio and toning, and we have a great time.”

The journey wasn’t always easy, she said.

“Sometimes, at work, I just had to avoid the break room,” she said.

And the exercise was hard, physically.

“I did what I could until I could do better,” she said. “Then I would push a little further.”

“It’s a mind thing,” she said. “You have to make up your mind that you’ve had enough and this is it. You don’t have to starve, just make better choices.”

And good nutrition is 80 percent of the battle, she said.

“If you’re not eating right, exercise isn’t going to do much for you,” she said. “You can’t outwork a bad diet.”

She stuck to her calorie limit, and weighed her food to get portion sizes under control.

“I remember needing to know the portion size of 28 ounces of almonds. I put it on the scale and thought, ‘Oh. That’s not many.’ ”

She also learned healthier preparations for her favorites.

“Tacos is my favorite food,” she said. “Now, I like to do turkey tacos, and sometimes I put it all on a salad instead of in a shell.”

Her journey was 16 to 18 months, and she shed 140 pounds.

“Before, I had zero energy,” she said. “I love being able to keep up with the kids, work in the yard, and do the things I want to do.”

In addition to teaching classes, she also has led her co-workers at PowerSouth in a “biggest loser” competition.

“I’m so thankful that I made that choice to get healthy for my children,” she said. “I don’t want to deprive them of anything.”

The Sassers are the parents of Taylor, 13; Carter, 10; and Sawyer, 3.