Westmont woman sheds 100-plus pounds

WESTMONT – With the amount of weight-loss programs and diet plans out there, it’s difficult to find the one that works, but a Westmont native has discovered the secret: a positive attitude.

Tracy Hermanek said people comment more on how much she smiles rather than the 100-plus pounds she has lost over the past 15 months.

“People respond better to me not just because I look better, but also because my attitude is better,” Hermanek said.

The 24-year-old began her weight-loss journey in March 2012 using the P90X fitness challenge by Beach Body.

“One morning, I woke up and said I’m going to do it,” Hermanek said. “I started out focused more on exercising, which motivated me to eat healthier. I became a vegetarian a few months after and then went completely vegan.”

Hermanek, who is 5-foot-8 and weighs 165 pounds, also removed smoking and drinking from her life.

She said weight loss isn’t always measured by numbers.

“It’s 90 percent diet and 10 percent exercising,” Hermanek said. “A lot of people exercise to eat whatever they want. Instead of exercising to eat, you should eat to exercise. Food should be fuel to exercise. Exercise shouldn’t be to make up for your nutrition.”

Around October 2012, she said she decided to conquer her first half marathon.

Her older brother, Ed Hermanek, arranged a nine-week training program for the 13.1-mile race.

“I’m a little more experienced of a runner than she is, but my goal was to be there for her and run alongside her,” he said. “Trace and I stuck together and pushed through.”

Seeing his sister complete the race almost was a metaphor for her journey, he said.

“I saw where she came from and she was this totally different person,” Ed Hermanek said. “It was motivating for me to see it and to see how happy she was.”

Within an hour of crossing her first finish line, Hermanek said she had made her mind up to find the next challenge: run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October.

Training for the marathon began in the beginning of June.

She plans to run the marathon with Team Healthy Kids, which focuses on instilling nutrition and physical activity values in children and schools.

“I don’t see anything that will ultimately stop her from completing her goal,” Ed Hermanek said. “I’ve seen what she’s done when she can set her mind to do something.”

Along with the ability to conquer her goals, the weight loss has given her a better work ethic in all aspects of life, Tracy Hermanek said.

“It’s a physical transformation of course,” Ed Hermanek said. “But more important is the mind set and emotional change.”

“I have a constant need to go beyond,” she said. “Being perceived as hard working is important to me. I was obese and lazy for a long time, and I don’t ever want to go back.”