Mesa resident Patti Milligan lost a person. She would be most pleased never to see that person again even though nothing was more a part of her.
The loss was life-changing. But, that’s what happens when you lose 208 pounds.
“I have been overweight my whole life,” Milligan explained from her Mesa home. “I tried three times to lose weight, starting in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s, and I’d get close to my goal and say, ‘this is good enough.’ I’d eat what I wanted, lose motivation and quit.”
Four years ago, with her weight hovering near 330 pounds and less than five years to her 50th birthday, everything changed while vacationing with her husband in Colorado Springs.
“By the third day I was so exhausted I couldn’t do anything,” Milligan said. “We left early because it was so physically exhausting.”
High blood pressure and pre-diabetes added to the challenge, but her motivation rested elsewhere.
“My daughter was a year from high school and terrified of being bullied,” Milligan said. “I thought of all the ways I lost weight in high school and didn’t want her doing things like that. My intent wasn’t for me.”
This time would be different. “This time I realized that with a diet, you can’t reach the finish line and go ‘I’m done.’ This was something I would have to do for the rest of my life and I knew I’d have to because I couldn’t go on being miserable for the rest of my life.”
Fast forward four years and those lofty goals set in August 2012 became more than numbers on a mental chalkboard. But, she didn’t just measure success by what she ate. She changed how she lived, too.
On a recent day, Milligan walked 7.5 miles in preparation for an upcoming hiking trip to Walnut Canyon with her husband. “There are 188 steps down to the ruins. Before, I could have gone down, but would never have been able to walk up. Now, I don’t have anywhere we go where I say, ‘I won’t be able to do that.’”
Her transformation came with an unexpected reward: a makeover. Weight Watchers paid for a shopping day at Nordstrom’s to buy a new outfit. Master stylist Michelle Carr-Shagena finished the transition with a new hair color, style and makeup by Brenda Jones.
“I’m absolutely speechless that anyone even cares about my story,” Milligan said after the makeover. “Everyone has been ridiculously supportive on my journey. I knew I could do this because it’s been done before. A lot of people have done it. I just had to figure out how I was going to do it.”
That’s what she wants others to take away from her experience: “If you want something bad enough, it doesn’t matter what it is. It’s attainable. You just need to have a goal and a plan.”