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Debra Tarpley Debra Tarpley

Debra Tarpley, R.N., North Houston Campus

“Find a buddy to help you focus, like a friend or coworker to go to the gym or walk with you. It made a huge difference for me. ” - Debra Tarpley, R.N.

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Debra Tarpley, R.N.

April 2017

Debra Tarpley attributes her fitness success to watching her diet, working out regularly – and a great trainer. For a couple of years, Debra worked out at a gym for 30 minutes a few times a week, but never saw results. So, she tried working out with a trainer for six months. The experience changed her life. Almost two years later, she has lost 30 pounds and actually loves working out. She still has a sweet tooth, but manages to keep calories to 1,400 a day to avoid weight gain.

Why did you decide to change your life?

My weight had been gradually increasing for a few years, but a couple of sad and stressful events really got me to thinking I needed to get into shape. My mother passed away and then my younger brother died from a staph infection.

Had you been in shape in the past?

I’d gone to the gym for many years, but just for 30 minutes or so to walk on the treadmill and maybe do the elliptical machine.

What changed?

At the gym, I was approached by a trainer who said, “I see you on the machines and can show you how to work your entire body.” I admitted to him that I wasn’t getting anywhere. In fact, I was 53 at the time, but a computer evaluation showed my health age was 65. I had five times the risk of heart disease and stroke and 10 times the chance of getting diabetes of someone my age.

Did this change after you started working with a trainer?

After four months, my health age was down to 54, my chance of heart disease was one, stroke five and cancer and diabetes one.  And I had lost 13 pounds.

What do you like about working with a trainer?

It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I tell him he saved my life. He pushes me, but he doesn’t yell. He showed me the right way to do the exercises.

What’s your exercise regimen? 

I’m at the gym for an hour every weeknight except Friday. I do 15 minutes of cardio, like stairs, ski machine and elliptical. Then I run or walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes and lift weights.

What about the weekend?

Some Saturdays I do crossfit at the gym and I walk our dogs twice daily Saturday and Sunday.

Do you ever miss a day?

If I do skip a day I feel guilty, like I didn’t go to church!

Has your work paid off?

I’ve lost about 30 pounds. But even more than weight, I’ve lost inches and gotten a lot healthier.

Do you watch what you eat?

I try to keep it to 1,400 calories a day, and I keep a food and exercise log. You’ll be amazed at what you eat if you write it down.

What unhealthy food do you crave? 

My downfall is sweets. If there’s a piece of cake in the clinic, I will hunt it down. I especially love homemade carrot cake.

What’s your motivation?

I like buying new clothes, and I’m doing that more. I have to admit, I like it when people tell me I look great. My husband is impressed – and after being married for 33 years, I like that too!

Would you like to pass along some lessons you’ve learned?

Find a buddy to help you focus, like a friend or coworker to go to the gym or walk with you. Think about working with a trainer for a while. It made a huge difference for me.


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