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Mitchell graduate overcomes blood disorder

BY CLIFF GILL
Tribune correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: July 14, 2013 at 09:05 AM

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PORT RICHEY - Behind the counter at the Premier Choice Fitness Health Club is a poster on the wall. It portrays a young woman in before-and-after poses. On the left is Samantha Webb in Feb. 2012, weighing 260 pounds. On the right is the current photo of Webb at 148 pounds.

"I had been thin all through childhood and high school," Webb, 28, said.

A former Barbizon model and Mitchell High girls basketball player, she helped raise her younger twin siblings while maintaining A's and B's in school. Following the birth of her first child eight years ago, Webb began feeling ill and tired and started to bleed easily.

"The slightest nick or cut caused severe bleeding," Webb said. "Even brushing my teeth caused me to bleed."

Her husband took her to the doctor, who feared she might have leukemia. Webb was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood disorder caused by a low platelet count. To treat her condition, the medical staff prescribed prednisone, which has a side effect of immediate and extreme weight gain.

"I gained 50 pounds in the first month," Webb said. "I was starving all the time and couldn't eat enough to satisfy my appetite. My weight eventually increased from 150 to 260 pounds."

For the next few years, Webb tried various diets and exercise programs. The results were temporary and frustrating. After the birth of her third child in Feb. 2012, Webb decided to lose the weight permanently and get back into shape.

"This time, I committed to sticking with it," the pre-school teacher said. "No matter what, I was going to follow through with it. I took it day by day, which turned into a week, then a month."

Webb took evening walks with her family and friends and dieted at just a maximum 1,200 calories per day. She limited herself to primarily eating only chicken, fruit and salads. She wrote down everything she ate and read labels carefully. In addition to her evening walks, Webb would wake up before dawn to roller blade.

"My daily regimen was work, diet and exercise five days each week," Webb said. "On weekends, I rewarded myself with a cookie or a slice of pizza."

The weight started coming off, losing 4-7 pounds each week. She weighed herself every day to stay motivated. Last fall, a friend invited Webb to join Premier Choice Fitness. At the time, Webb weighed 211 pounds, so she hired a personal trainer and lost 25 pounds the first month.

At the club, she works out twice daily. She also participates in boot camp, which includes an hour of intense cardio workouts and strength training. Her goal is to weigh 130 by year-end.

"It's 100 percent worth it to feel better and to be in a better mood with lower stress," Webb said. "My husband and trainers were all part of the team and deserve much of the credit."

Diane Mikailonis, the general manager of Premier Choice Fitness, has high praise for Webb.

"Samantha is a working mother of three small children who completely changed her lifestyle," Mikailonis said. "Through daily exercise and proper nutrition, she has been able to lose over 100 pounds. More importantly, she motivates other members in the gym by sharing her story and encouraging others to make the necessary changes, work hard and not give up. She is a great example of setting goals and reaching them. If you want something bad enough, you can achieve it."

Correspondent Cliff Gill can be reached at reportercliffgill@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter@ReporterCliff.

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