Rachell Reilly

Assistant Director, Office of Sponsored Projects

Rachell Reilly, Assistant Director, Office of Sponsored ProjectsMy mother was in a car accident in 2000, which left her unable to use the left side of her body. She had recently lost quite a bit of weight, but had never worked out in her life. My mother decided not to try to mend her body. She got a motorized wheel chair and does not attempt to walk, swim, lift weights, or do any exercise. She has gained back almost all of the weight she lost and is very limited in her ability to go places and do things.

Seeing my mother’s reaction to these events caused me to re-evaluate my own habits. I hit my mid-40s and was unabIe to take weight off as easily as I had a few years prior. I started walking and quit smoking (a habit I’d had for 32 years). I started making better food choices, but allowed myself that small piece of candy. After all, I reasoned, I walked or did 30 minutes of aerobics three to four times a week. I increased the amount and type of exercise, but did not change my eating habits. I often lamented about how I worked out, but failed to lose weight. In fact, I gained. When I moved to Texas in 2004, I was 30 pounds overweight (clinically obese). Between 2004 and the end of 2010, I gained an additional 45 pounds! I was in denial about my bad eating habits, convinced that I made good lifestyle changes and could not understand why I kept gaining weight. I came up with every excuse in the book —bad genes, some lingering illness, menopause, not smoking. I knew it couldn’t be the cookies and candy. After all, I deserved the treats, didn’t I?

I was introduced to the UTD Activity Center by Beth Keithly (Office of Vice President for Research) when I started working here in November 2010. I joined Beth and Sonja Gold (Communications) at the noon Group X classes most days and, while I wasn’t new to working out, I realized I hadn’t been working nearly as hard as I could. I made good food choices (fresh fruits and vegetables, organically raised meat, no fast food, no sodas or sugary drinks), but I made bad snacking choices. Beth, Sonja and I started a diet together which does not allow processed sugar. That was the push I needed. Between the daily hour of exercise (everything from spin to body sculpting to Pilates and Zumba) at the Activity Center and eating no more than 10 grams of sugar a day, I’ve lost 45 pounds since the end of May 2011. I will continue working until I lose the remaining 30 pounds and feel very lucky that the Activity Center is available and has a good variety of classes taught by caring and dedicated instructors.

Someone asked me when I plan to go back to eating dessert and candy. I don’t plan to. It’s as if I kicked another really bad habit —I won’t start smoking again— I don’t plan to start eating processed sugar again either. I’m looking forward to the journey and am thankful for the help and support I get from being an employee at UTD.


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