An Alma woman is feeling "awesome" after losing more than 100 pounds in about a year and a half.

Cynthia Strack has lost a total of 116 pounds, becoming a lifetime member of Weight Watchers in March after reaching her goal weight of 160 pounds and maintaining it for six weeks, she said.

Strack, operations coordinator for Mercy, started on her weight loss journey June 12, 2012, by attending a 10-week Weight Watchers program at Mercy.

When the program ended, Strack was losing weight and loving it, she said. She started attending meetings in Alma to keep on track.

Tammy Grisham leads the Weight Watchers meetings in Alma and has watched Strack during the past year as she continued to lose weight. Grisham called Strack’s fortitude "incredible."

"I saw a determination in her when she first came," Grisham said. "She wanted a change in how she had been living and eating."

Strack agrees with that assessment.

"I had such determination that if I was going to get my weight off, I was going to keep my weight off," Strack said. "I never want to be that way again."

Strack was able to lose the weight by changing her eating habits, eating more fruits and vegetables, not eating late at night, and controlling portions, and by walking and swimming for exercise.

"I don’t look at it as a diet; I look at it as a lifestyle change," Strack said.

Some of the awards for all her hard work include sleeping better, less problems with allergies, less tiredness and feeling better about clothes shopping.

"I just bought two new bathing suits, and I used to hate doing all that before," Strack said.

Support from family, friends and coworkers also helped Strack reach her goal, she said, though she said no actual goal weight was in mind when she started the program. She was doing it "day by day," she said.

"I was just determined I was going to get my weight off, I was going to be eating better…and I was going to get off medication," Strack said.

Strack was taking medications for both blood pressure and cholesterol, but is now off of both, she said.

Eventually Strack chose a goal weight of 160 pounds with encouragement and guidance from her family doctor and Grisham, she said.

Strack became a lifetime member of Weight Watchers when she reached her weight loss goal, which means she only needs to check in every month. As long as she maintains her weight, she doesn’t have to pay to participate in the program.

"That is a big accomplishment," Grisham said. "She has done a fabulous job."

But Strack continues to attend meetings every week, where she continues to learn new things, she said.

"It just kind of keeps me in line; I just enjoy what’s going on there," Strack said.

Though Strack attends the meetings to encourage herself, she also encourages the other members, Grisham said. She gives input, brings recipes and health articles, and is always looking to improve, Grisham said.

"She’s just really rock solid in what she does and how she takes care of herself," Grisham said.

Strack also believes her accomplishment has inspired others close to her, including her sister, who started an exercise program, and a friend who recently started Weight Watchers.

And Strack has a few tips for those looking to get healthy.

"To lose weight, you have to want it," Strack said. "If you go off, don’t say ‘I’ll get back on tomorrow.’ I get back on track with my next meal, not the next day."