Phyllis Schmoyer wanted to be a telephone operator, just like her big sister. So shortly after graduating from high school in 1944, she applied for a job at the same company where her sister worked.

“At first, I was told that I couldn’t be hired because it was against company policy to employ more than one person from the same family,” recalls the 73-year-old Pottstown, Pennsylvania, woman. “But when I pressed the issue, I was told that I was too heavy.” At the time, she carried 168 pounds on her 5-foot-5 frame.

“Back then, telephone operators sat very close to one another,” she explains. “Because I was overweight, I would have taken up more than my share of space.”

Phyllis, who had never been too concerned about her weight, suddenly had a very compelling reason to slim down. “I really wanted that job, so I began doing things that I thought would help me get rid of the extra pounds,” she recalls. “I stopped sitting around like I had done all during high school, and I started walking everywhere.” She also tried to eat better, cutting back on both the candy bars that she loved and the rich food that was served in her home. “My parents were Pennsylvania Dutch, so I was accustomed to heavy meals with lots of fried foods,” she says.

Sure enough, the pounds came off—40 of them in all. Triumphant, Phyllis returned to the phone company to reapply for an operator position. This time, she got the job.

Though more than 50 years have passed, Phyllis has maintained her trim figure. “I stay active, and I watch what I eat,” she says. “I think that my weight got to where it was supposed to be in the first place, and it has pretty much stayed there.”

Looking back, Phyllis is convinced that taking off those 40 pounds made a world of difference for her. “If I hadn’t lost the weight, I probably wouldn’t be alive today,” she says. “Heart disease runs in my family, and as heavy as I was, I may have gotten it, too. I truly believe that slimming down saved my life.”


Make slimming down high stakes. If you have trouble sticking with your weight-loss program, maybe you need to up the ante a bit. Maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of changing jobs or going back to school or signing up for an African safari. Make that your incentive to slim down.


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