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Martinsburg woman to share weight-loss success story on CNN

February 07, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - As Tracey Wygal's weight started to approach 300 pounds, she began to think.

"It was true fear," the 30-year-old public school teacher said.

In 2001, Wygal began exercising at home in an attempt to shed the pounds.

"I was too embarrassed to go to the gym," she said.

Over three years, Wygal lost 120 pounds.

While Wygal used to overeat and primarily consumed junk food, fast food and other unhealthy selections, she now limits her daily calorie intake to 1,600 and works out about six days a week.

Wygal said people are shocked when they see the difference in her physical makeup now.

CNN was impressed, too. So much so that Wygal is scheduled to be featured on the "Fit Nation" segment that airs on the station.

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"Fit Nation" examines how Americans are working to get fit and looks at the country's obesity epidemic, said Val Willingham, a medical producer for CNN.

Last year, the segment focused on calorie counting and exercise, and this year, the show has focused on people who have lost weight in a healthy way, Willingham said.

As part of the "Fit Nation" segment, viewers are invited to send in their weight-loss stories, Willingham said.

Wygal sent in her story and producers were impressed by it, Willingham said.

A CNN crew arrived Monday afternoon at Gold's Gym off Edwin Miller Boulevard, where Wygal works out, to film her in action.

Wygal is expected to be featured sometime late this month as part of the "American Morning" show, which airs at 8:30 a.m., Willingham said.

Wygal said her bad eating habits started when she was in middle school. She said no one ridiculed her, but it was just a simple concern about the weight that made her change.

Wygal said she believes consistent workouts and good diet are the keys to keeping weight off.

"I love it. It's definitely a big part of my life now," said Wygal, a Martinsburg resident who teaches at James Wood Middle School in Winchester, Va. Before starting a teaching job there this year, Wygal taught for seven years at Shepherdstown (W.Va.) Middle School.

Her success story is catching on elsewhere, too.

Wygal, who grew up in Romney, W.Va., said she soon will be featured in Oxygen magazine, a women's fitness magazine.

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