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Thursday, September 18, 2014, 8:54 a.m.
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Cabot woman exemplifies huge weight-loss success

By Angela Spencer

This article was published July 20, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

William Harvey/Three Rivers Edition Rebecca Privitera shows off her new look after losing weight and getting healthy.

CABOT — Usually, people who lose something do not win a prize, but one Cabot woman won $100,000 for losing a whole lot.

After several years of hard work, Rebecca Privitera has lost 221 pounds and recently won $100,000 from Beachbody, the company that developed P90X, Insanity and other fitness products. She was one of two winners of the 2013-2014 Beachbody Challenge, and she received her prize at the annual Beachbody Coach Summit in Las Vegas.

Privitera said she grew up overweight, and when she tipped the scale at 381 pounds in May 2011, she decided to make a change. A week before, she had participated in the Toad Suck Daze 5K, finishing last. The race took her 1 hour, 14 minutes to finish, and she said she cried when she got into the car.

“I remember my husband telling me that we couldn’t afford surgery; we couldn’t afford the UAMS (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences) diet or any diet [that requires] a ton of money for stuff,” she said. “He told me I needed to do it the old-fashioned way.”

Later, Privitera saw an infomercial for Slim in 6, a low-impact, six-week workout DVD program from Beachbody.

“It’s supposed to be low impact, but for me, it was really hard,” she said.

Along with that DVD workout program, Privitera started walking. She later added the Les Mills Pump workout program to help incorporate weight training into her workouts. With those programs, she lost 68 pounds in six months.

Privitera started adding more DVD programs from Beachbody to her weight-loss arsenal. She has done P90X and Turbo Fire three times each, and she is now a certified instructor, teaching at the Cabot Community Center and several gyms in Cabot.

In 2013, Privitera ran 13 races: two 10Ks, one half marathon in St. Louis and 10 5Ks. Then she ran the Little Rock half marathon in 2014. She said she is now working on weight training and is maintaining her weight around 160 or 165 pounds, and she said she is happy with that range.

Privitera said she has seen many benefits since she lost those 221 pounds, but the most important benefits have been related to her health. She said she likes to remind people that the goal is to be fit, not just thin, and good health is key.

Before she lost the weight, Privitera had been on bed rest and was on three medications to regulate her blood pressure. Because of her poor health, she lost a baby at 24 weeks. Now, Privitera’s blood pressure is normal, her overall health has improved, and she and her husband are thinking about starting a family in the future.

Throughout her journey to lose weight and get healthy, Privitera said, her husband, Justin, has been by her side offering encouragement and support.

“Even when I lost my job in 2012, he was still allowing me to invest in myself with the Beachbody programs,” she said, adding that Justin has also lost weight and works out on a regular basis.

Losing more than 200 pounds can sound daunting, but Privitera said she tries to encourage people to pick small, manageable goals to meet while working their way up to big accomplishments. One of her first goals was to run a 5K, and two years after she was the last finisher of the Toad Suck Daze 5K, she finished the race in 34 minutes, 55 seconds.

“That was my goal,” she said. “And then I set small goals. First, it was to get out of the 300-pound zone. When I did that, I wanted to get to 250 pounds.”

Many of her goals are what she calls “nonscale victories,” and she said some people she works with do well working toward nonscale victories, such as dropping clothing sizes or accomplishing certain fitness tasks.

The key, Privitera said, is knowing that being healthy is a lifelong journey. She said it can sometimes feel like a marriage, when at times it feels like it is time to throw in the towel, but commitment and a long-term outlook keep her going.

“If you want it bad enough, you’ll do it,” she said. “I hear people say, ‘I want to lose 20 pounds by my reunion.’ But what are your goals after that? Realistically, who cares what they think about at the reunion? Nobody cares. What you need to care about is 20 years from now when you are still in really good shape and you are still healthy. That’s what you need to care about.”

Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.

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