by Josh Lanier






HUNTERSVILLE – Sam Foster is in the throes of a messy break-up. After 13 years she’s calling it quits with her nearly lifelong “boyfriend:” junk food.



The 20-year-old Huntersville office manager has decided to shed 160 pounds over the next two years to get to a more svelte weight of 130 pounds.



“I’ve had a bad relationship with food since I was a kid,” she said. “It’s been like a bad boyfriend I’ve never been able to get rid of.”



But Foster wants more than a slim down; she wants to start a movement. She wants to create a place for young women to find hope and support in others who have similar issues with food.



“I’m tired of these weight-loss groups filled with girls who need to lose 10, 15 or 20 pounds because they’re going to be done in a few weeks or a month. They’re not in the same situation I’m in,” she said. “I want to create a group for women who have a lot to lose and to create a support structure for them. It’s such a completely different struggle for us.”



Foster blogs about her dieting and has started a Facebook group to get the discussions started.



“I’m not saying we have to work out together or diet together,” she said, “but (losing weight) isn’t easy. Anyone who has tried it knows that. I’m looking for a group of women who can be there to support one another and make it a better experience.”



Dr. Donald Balder, a bariatric surgeon at Southeast Bariatrics, said morbidly obese people, people with more than 100 pounds to lose, face some major challenges when it comes to returning to a healthy weight. Bariatrics is the study of obesity.



“That’s one reason why we have so many people involved in our lifestyle management teams,” he said. “It’s such an all far reaching issue that usually stretches back deep into our childhoods and is engrained in us.”



At Southeast Bariatrics, patients see dieticians, exercise experts, psychologists and nurse practitioners, take educational seminars and in some cases meet with surgeons.



“For us, knowledge is power,” he said. “The most important thing a person can do is learn about what they’ll need to do to lead a healthier lifestyle. … A goal without a plan is just a wish.”



Southeast Bariatics offers free classes to provide that information at several of its locations and will soon offer them online.



Balder hasn’t met with Foster but he commended her on starting the group and the efforts to take the weight off.



“Anything you can do from a positive stand point is important,” he said. “If it’s helpful to talk through this with someone, or to share the struggle, by all means do it. Do any healthy habits that work for you.”



Foster, a Central Piedmont Community College student who hopes to become an English professor, said she’s excited about the possibilities a slimmer physique presents. She speaks candidly about her weight, her struggles and her triumphs.



“I have a good life,” she said. “I have a loving boyfriend, a great group of friends and a good job. I’m more than just my weight, but sometimes it feels that’s all people see me as.”



In the first post on her blog, Foster sums up her state of mind this way:



“So here I am: a new woman. Liberated from my destructive relationship with food. Moving towards a new, slimmer, healthier me. And I could not be more excited.”