Weight loss can be a challenge for many who want to look and feel better. For Ginger Stauffacher, it was a necessity to get her life back.
At 263 pounds, the mother of three from Cuba City started her journey to becoming a healthier woman. She chose to try the Jenny Craig weight loss program and, with lots of encouragement and determination to make a change, she lost 131 pounds. She was recently featured as one of three women in the “Half Their Weight” issue of People Magazine and was also featured on the Jan. 2 edition of Good Morning America.
Ginger developed a thyroid condition called hypothyroidism after gaining 50 pounds during her third pregnancy.
“When you have this condition, you have heart palpitations, weight gain, depression and all sorts of ‘fun’ side effects,” Ginger said. “When I was diagnosed and was told that I would gain some weight, I basically thought I might as well enjoy a weight gain. I started eating and didn’t stop. The heart palpitations got worse the heavier I got.”
Ginger had high blood pressure that had to be controlled with medication. Doctors told her that her heart was healthy, but she was overweight.
“One night it got really bad, where I thought I was having a heart attack,” Ginger said. “It was a different type of racing heart, sweating and vomiting. It really scared me.”
The scare was enough that she decided she needed to make a change immediately.
“I thought that I need to be around for my kids and my husband, and I wasn’t going to wait for something worse to happen. I had to do something now,” Ginger said.
She said she knew she needed to shed some of the weight to feel better and get off the high blood pressure medication. Her initial goal was to lose 100 pounds.
To assist with her goal, she started the Jenny Craig weight loss program.
“They have the pre-packaged meals and they teach you volumentrics, which is adding vegetables to everything to make it bigger and better,” Ginger said. “They also taught me to eat every two to three hours. I needed the structure of telling me when to eat and what to eat.”
She started the weight loss journey in January 2011. She said it wasn’t a New Year’s resolution; it was just the right time to make a change.
Ginger and her husband, Tim, own and operate an Angus beef and grain farm near Cuba City. She home schools her children: Abbey, 15, Tyler, 13, and Ryan, 11.
“Every day is different,” Ginger said. “The one thing that is consistent is school. We get up in the morning and do our chores, which, if there’s a problem, may lead into another thing to be done. You never know what’s going to happen. After morning chores we do school until noon. We have lunch then are back out on the farm until suppertime. There’s always something to do.”
Ginger is originally from Fennimore, but moved to Benton in seventh grade. She and Tim, a Cuba City graduate, have been together 18 years.
Her continued motivation stemmed from encouragement by her children and husband and starting to feel great.
“The first couple of weeks I had so much energy,” Ginger said. “I started exercising then and was losing weight at a steady rate. I thought, ‘I can do this. This is easy.’ I did not struggle, which was odd for me. Other times I had tried to reduce calories and increase exercise and I would give up within a week or two. This definitely worked for me.”
In less than two years Ginger lost 131 pounds and has been able to keep it off.
Marissa Sanchez Buntz of Jenny Craig said Ginger was nominated by Jenny Craig for the People Magazine “Half Their Size” issue in January.
“We reached out to Ginger and thought she would be a great candidate, so we helped to submit her for the publication,” Sanchez Buntz said.
Ginger had to write a bio and submit some pictures to Jenny Craig, which forwarded the information to People Magazine. She started submitting the photos and information in September and heard she was chosen in October.
Ginger and Tim traveled to Palm Springs, Calif., the first week in December for a photo shoot for People Magazine.
“It was completely different than anything I’ve ever done before,” Ginger said. “Palm Springs was a really nice community. I really liked that. But it was busy. They whisk you away from the airport and you go straight to the photo shoot. There were people everywhere. It was fun, but it was way different than our lifestyle here.”
Then, on Jan. 1, Ginger and Tim flew to New York to be featured live on the Jan. 2 episode of Good Morning America.
“That was also a whirlwind,” Ginger said. “I’ve never been to New York. It was a very busy city.”
Her favorite part of both spotlight situations was meeting the other women who were featured in the magazine for losing half of their weight. She said she keeps in contact with them.
Jenny Craig is only the tool that helped Ginger make these lifestyle changes.
“They teach you maintenance, how to eat well on your own,” Ginger said. “I think I’ve done well with that. I love to look for healthy recipes. It’s my new passion.”
Ginger also likes to set goals to help her stay on track. One goal was to run a half-marathon, and she completed that in November. She said her next goal will be to run a full marathon or a triathlon.
“When I reach one goal I set another one,” Ginger said. “That seems to help me stay on track.”
This experience has made her a stronger person.
“My self esteem is probably 100 times better than it was before,” Ginger said. “My confidence is much better. My family, their support and love, is the catalyst that has gotten me through this.”
Ginger said she never would have taken the steps before, but since she is more comfortable in her improved body, she has signed up to be a bone marrow donor. She said she was inspired by family friends in Cuba City, the Egans, who have two young children with medical needs requiring bone marrow transplants.
“I didn’t think I was healthy enough, being overweight,” Ginger said. “I’m sure you can do it and be overweight, but I didn’t have the confidence.”
Ginger said she used to be what you would call a stress cooker and a closet eater. All of that had to stop.
“Whenever I was stressed out, I would make a ton of food,” Ginger said. “That’s how my husband gaged how my day went, by how much food I would cook for supper.”
She added a lot more fruits and vegetables to her diet and eliminated the chips and candy.
“Learning what an actual portion size entailed was very eye-opening,” Ginger said. “You can still fill up and not eat four portion sizes.”
Ginger said her family has started using smaller plates for their meals.
“If you have all of that space [on the plate] you feel like you need to fill it,” Ginger said.
Some other tips Ginger offered were to eat every two to three hours to fight off those ravenous hunger feelings that may cause you to overeat and keep healthy snacks easily accessible by cutting fruits and vegetables ahead of time.
“It was sometimes hard at family gatherings,” Ginger said. “I always brought my meal with me just because you never know what is going to be there. I needed to be prepared. I knew I wasn’t ready to go rogue, so to speak. Those were the hard times, but as people started seeing me losing [the weight], the hard times became less and less.”
She said she always had to have a plan at events like that.
Ginger is now able to do more, like walking through snow to do chores, something that wore her out when she was overweight. Now she runs to get her workout in each day.
“Before it was pretty hard to get me out of the house. I had depression pretty bad,” Ginger said. “I only left the house to go to the grocery store or run errands. I did not like to go out. I never exercised and I did very little work on the farm. I would get out of as much work as I could. That doesn’t make me very proud, but that was how I dealt with things. Now people see me running almost every day. I have a route I run in Cuba City. I am more active than you can imagine. My husband and I go out now, I help out on the farm constantly and I wear my family out. It’s a total 360 from before.”
She said her experience with the magazine and TV show haven’t changed her, although things did get chaotic for a while.
“It’s nice to get recognition for Cuba City,” Ginger said.