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T H E E D M O N T O N S U N • T h urs d a y , J u l y 1 3 , 2006

EDITOR: Sally Johnston

PHONE: 468-0115

FAX: 468-0139 E-MAIL: sjohnston@edmsun.com

Stray remark led to health makeover
‘You’re so big’ comment jolted teen
CARY CASTAGNA

V

fat. She was 19 years old at the time and had run into a male friend whom she hadn’t seen in a while. They stopped to talk and White admits she never saw it coming. “He said, ‘You’re so beautiful. Too bad you’re so big.’ That’s exactly how he put it and I’ll remember it forever,” White recalls of the backhanded compliment. “It hit me. It was like someone throwing a stone at you.” The Singaporean-born beauty, who had never before considered herself to be overweight, went home and took a long hard look at herself in the mirror. Still not convinced, White went to her doctor a short time later. And that’s when her fears were confirmed. At five-foot-four and 162 pounds, the small-boned teen was indeed overweight. In fact, she was considered obese, according to her doctor’s charts. “I remember clearly that I didn’t feel fat,” she says. “How does it get to that point without you realizing?” White, whose father died of Type 2diabetes complications when she was 16, admits to packing on about 40 pounds during high school, thanks to a sedentary lifestyle and a carefree diet that included fast food, wings and beer. That all changed shortly after the pivotal doctor’s visit. White enlisted a personal trainer and learned how to work out. She also started reading labels and paying close attention to what she was putting in her mouth. Within eight months, she dropped 20 pounds. “It took me another year after that to lose the next 20 pounds,” she says. These days, the 29-year-old Edmontonian weighs about 120 pounds.

alerie White clearly remembers that fateful day about 10 years ago when she was told she was

Looked in the mirror

And, oh yeah, she’s also a swimsuit and lingerie model who has appeared in several men’s magazines. It’s a sideline she keeps up even after having two children. The mother of a four-year-old son and nine-month-old daughter hits the north-side Club Fit three times a week. Her hour-long workouts are composed of a 20-minute walk on the treadmill, 30 minutes of light weightlifting and 10 minutes of stretching. White’s six-small-meals-a-day diet includes typical nutritious fare like chicken, egg whites, brown rice, wholegrain bread, fruits and veggies. But White’s no stringent Spartan. She allows herself butter on her toast. She drinks skim milk. Once a week, she treats herself to a 500-ml tub of Haagen-Dazs Baileys ice cream. And occasionally, she even goes for a Big Mac from McDonald’s. “People think, to look like me, you have to give up everything,” she says. She also enjoys the occasional glass of wine, which doesn’t hurt, considering her new business venture. White, who was forced to abandon her career as a sports massage therapist following a car accident in February of 2005, is set to start a career as a wine wholesaler. The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission recently granted her company, VJ Imports, the exclusive Canadian rights to import pomegranate wine from Armenia, she says. By fall, she’ll be supplying the wine to restaurants, bars and liquor stores. By Christmas, she hopes to begin importing pomegranate liqueurs and vodka.

“It’s really healthy,” White says of pomegranate products. So whatever happened to the guy who called her fat? White shyly admits she ended up dating him for a few months after their chance meeting, but she hasn’t spoken to him since. She explains that he’s a fitness buff who lives in Florida and she’s planning to send him a card – to thank him. “There’s no hard feelings. He inspired me,” she explains. “He opened my eyes to what I could achieve and become.”
– Do you have an inspirational story for Keeping Fit? E-mail Cary Castagna at ccastagna@edmsun.com

‘Really healthy’

Valerie White dropped 40 pounds and now has a sideline as a swimsuit and lingerie model.

– TREVOR HOWELL, Special to the Sun

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