Big loser becomes big winner

  • Mimi Brei has maintained a 150-pound weight loss by learning to cook more nutritious meals.

      Mimi Brei has maintained a 150-pound weight loss by learning to cook more nutritious meals. Photos by JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

Updated 11/16/2010 11:42 AM

Mimi Brei wasn't a contestant on NBC's popular weight-loss reality show, but she's a big loser. On Dec. 23 Mimi will celebrate seven years since she had gastric bypass surgery and lost 150 pounds in 18 months, dropping to 177 from 327. She lost another 12 when she moved to Buffalo Grove and was able to walk to work as a scheduler at a doctor's office.

It's quite an achievement to keep weight off that long even some bypass surgery patients regain the weight if they're not careful. But Mimi is committed.


"It transformed me from cooking to eat, to cooking to create," says Mimi. "I totally love it."

To help those pounds melt off Mimi changed her cooking habits. Instead of deep-frying four times a week, she'll do it "maybe once a month." Sauteing and broiling became her new preferred methods, and she added pounds and pounds fresh vegetables to her meals.

"I don't sacrifice much, I just don't eat as much," says Mimi. Instead of a sleeve of cookies she eats one; instead of half a pizza, she limits herself to a slice.

"I will never eat to the point of that Thanksgiving ache. That's what keeps my weight maintained," she says.

Breakfast and lunch are very simple: half a peanut butter sandwich for the one, half a ham sandwich for the other. .

For dinner she likes "good old, homemade, comfort food." That might mean chicken breasts rolled up with stuffing and baked with cream of chicken soup, baked fish, or as a treat, chicken chimichangas with cheddar, deep fried and served with a dab of sour cream.

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This week she invites us to try a family-tested recipe for pork chops smothered in sauerkraut and mustard sauce.

For holiday parties she suggests two more: Rueben Shots, an appetizer that combines the famous sandwich ingredients into a spread for mini pumpernickel slices; and caramel corn with almonds and pecans that's also perfect for gift-giving.

Since overcoming her own weight-loss challenge Mimi has created a wonderful, new life for herself. Where once she was kicked off a roller coaster at Great America because of her size, she now can slip into the back seat of her son's car to click her grandson into his child seat. She can fly comfortably on an airplane and climb stairs without gasping.

"I feel better physically, emotionally and spiritually," she says. "I'm not attached to the almighty dish and spoon; I don't go to bed thinking I can't wait to get up and eat."

Did I say she's a big loser? More like a big winner.