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It’s Worth It “I thought, ‘I need to do something, I’m “It’s worth it. not happy like Somewhere along this,’” she recalls. the line in your life, Though she you have to think felt overwhelmed about you. If you’re when she looked not happy where at the total weight you are, you’re the loss needed to only one that can reach her goal, change that. And she set her sights if you’re willing to on smaller goals, make a change, there such as losing are a lot of places five pounds, that will help you ten pounds, five make that change.” percent or ten Karen Larsen percent of her shared with me her body weight. weight loss journey She slowly over the past 44 and steadily years, pushing reached those through many ups From left to right: Amy B. Pederson, Gary Larsen, Karen Larsen, Jessica Larsen-Gallup, Sean Gallup, and in front are Finn goals, losing in and downs with a Gallup and Madeline Gallup total 95 pounds, victory in the end. surpassing even her goal. That’s the same weight as three cinder blocks The Plainview, Nebraska native and her husband Doug live on his or twelve gallons of milk! family farm west of Viborg, SD where he grew up. They added two Larsen soon found that the new lifestyle for her wasn’t sustainable daughters to their marriage, the oldest now living in Sioux Falls with and she realized that she wanted to live a little without dedicating every her husband and their two children and the youngest now living in second of every day to her health and her new routine. She eased back Brookings with her husband and their two dogs. Larsen has lived on the farm most of her life. She grew up on a farm a little and now happily maintains a 75 to 80 pound total weight loss. Not wanting to feel deprived, she explains, “I’m sorry, I like my and after living in Yankton for a few years returned to the farm life. She treats. I’m not going to walk 10 miles a day so I can have a cookie once enjoys living in the country and feels like she can be as active as she a week,” she explains as I laugh. “I want to have a little bit of fun every wants to be, which was her goal when she first set out on a journey to day, and make it work.” become healthier. Not only did she set small, attainable goals during her journey, Not new to the struggle with losing weight, she first started her she also chose to look ahead one week at a time instead of looking journey in 1974, attending a support group that year and the following at the overall time it would take to reach her final goal. “I never look year, not reaching her goal either time. They then had children and any further away than a week at a time because you can’t, because it’s she stayed at home to raise them and began embracing her love for overwhelming,” she explains, noting that the first year for her went cooking and baking. With those temptations around, she soon began to gain weight again. She began the weight loss challenge again in 1985 very fast. She continued meeting with her support group even after she reached her goal weight. and finally reached her goal weight. Feeling like she could maintain on She was excited when she found out that her first grandchild was on her own and letting schedule conflicts interfere with her support group the way. She recalls seeing how her dad lit up when he was around his meetings, she soon began to fall backward and gain weight again. grandchildren and how her best friend always wore a beaming smile In 2004, she realized that she was nearing 52 years old, overweight when talking of her own grandchildren. She knew she wanted to feel and concerned about the thought of not being able to keep up with that excitement and wanted to stay healthy enough to keep up with possible grandchildren in the future. At her heaviest weight ever, she them. She told me of a game that she plays with her grandchildren at realized that she wanted to live long enough to see grandchildren and the Viborg park. As she hangs down the top of the tornado slide, the that her health was going to be compromised by the extra weight. children crawl up from the bottom, trying to reach her hands to be Shortly after having these thoughts her employer, the state of South pulled up to the top. Dakota, offered incentives for getting healthier. They offered options “I thought, ‘I could not do this at my top weight. I could not do for paying toward gym memberships, health club memberships and this,’” she beams. exercise equipment. She saw this as a sign that she was meant to take She realizes now how much extra weight she was carrying. “Now this health journey again. She again joined a support group that year, I carry a 20 pound of cat food and it kills me and I think, ‘I had four knowing that she had to make it a priority to be attend meetings. With of these hanging on me!!!’” She hadn’t realized how the extra weight her children grown and on their own, she finally decided to take some impacted everything in her life so much. When she couldn’t crawl much-needed time to focus on herself. vBy Julie Eickhoff 10vHERVOICEvMAY/JUNE 2018

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