When three different people asked Ginny Jackson when her baby was due and she wasn't pregnant, she knew it was time to lose weight.
"I was devastated," she said. "I was 16 years old. I didn't understand, 'What are you implying?' -- and it was a huge reality check for me."
Jackson had grown up in a family where eating fast food for every meal was the norm, and as a result, she, her mother and father all packed on the pounds.
By 2003, Ginny's 5-foot, 4-inch frame was carrying 182 pounds and her mother, Sharlene, weighed 274 pounds. At that time, Sharlene's husband was diagnosed with diabetes.
Ginny and Sharlene vowed to shed the weight, but they refused to give up the fast food. By changing their fast food choices and controlling their portion size, mother and daughter have lost a combined 160 pounds.
Using the Weight Watchers plans, Sharlene, 46, lost 114 pounds in 14 months, and three months earlier, Ginny reached her goal of dropping 50 pounds. They have kept much of the weight off for more than a year.
Sharlene said eating healthier was expensive at first, but eventually they saved money by eating only half the serving and taking the rest home for the next day.
In addition to diet, Sharlene and Ginny both took up exercise. Sharlene walks two miles every day and Ginny, who goes to college and holds down a job at a mortgage company, walks 12 miles a week.
"Losing weight together has the most phenomenal [effect] at bringing us closer together," Sharlene said.
Get Healthy Early
Sharlene and Ginny lost weight together as adults, but Sharlene says she wishes they would have eaten healthy together since Ginny was a child.
"If you are a fat mom and you're raising a daughter who's also got a weight problem, you need to look at what is your daughter's example," Sharlene said. "Her example is you and you need to look at yourself."
Susan Toepfer, editor-in-chief of Quick and Simple Magazine, offered these tips for parents concerned about healthy eating habits:
• Don't make children clean their plates.
• Eat healthy food in front of children.
• Walk to and from restaurants.
Toepfer also had some ideas for healthy fast food options:
• Salad vs. Sandwich: A Chicken BLT salad from Wendy's has 630 calories and 46 grams of fat, but an Ultimate Chicken Grill sandwich has just 360 calories and 7 grams of fat. Many people will order salad thinking it's healthier, but in reality the sandwich has fewer calories and fat, even with the bread.
• Hold the Fat: A 6-inch turkey breast sandwich from Subway has 280 calories and 4.5 grams of fat, but a six-inch tuna sandwich has 530 calories and 31 grams of fat. You might think meats like tuna are healthy, but the mayo adds lots of calories in fat.
• Go Skim: A 16 oz. vanilla latte from Starbucks with whole milk, 1 pump vanilla syrup and whipped cream has 440 calories and 21 grams of fat. By getting that same latte with nonfat milk, sugar-free syrup and no whipped cream, you reduce your intake to just 230 calories and zero grams of fat.