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Elaine Armster has seen the future, and it is a purple, halter-back cocktail dress that she hasn't put on since the Atlanta Olympics.
"The last time I wore the dress was in 1996. That purple cocktail dress is going to represent the ultimate achievement. It hangs up as an ultimate reminder," Armster said.
Armster, whose story started last month in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has agreed to serialize her efforts to squeeze herself into that purple frock. The nearly 6-foot urban planner made a New Year's resolution to lose weight and train for the Peachtree Road Race in July.
Armster was a high school athlete in Thomasville, near Valdosta, and worked at staying fit while in college. But like many professionals, she ran out of time to work out and put on weight in her increasingly sedentary lifestyle.
In her first month of dieting and exercise, she is down to 240, a 10-pound drop. She spent the past month adjusting to her new diet, which has left her feeling more energized and downright giddy.
"I can feel the molecular change. Atoms and motions are realigning themselves," she said. "I'm becoming more concave in the waist again.
"As a matter of fact, the first clothing evidence was a black suit that had been peacefully resting in my closet for about two years. After the third week's result, I said 'Let me try this out.' "
"It was an easy fit. I just stood in the mirror and stared at myself," said Armster, a volunteer member of the Marietta Housing Authority board.
The diet has been critical. Armster's childhood friend, Dr. Audrey Mitchell Wooten, who practices in Jacksonville, developed a lower carbohydrate "diet of moderation" for her. Potatoes, white bread and enriched flour products are out. Greens and skinless chicken are in.
"She told me one time I was her worst patient. I think that was the time I was trying to include carrot cake and some other things," said Armster, 37. "She said to me, 'If you will be diligent, I promise you you will see the results you're looking for.' . . . I've started seeing results that are, frankly, pretty amazing."
Armster said keeping a daily journal has kept her honest. Each day, she plans her meals --- the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with two or three snacks. The goal is to avoid being at mealtime without something healthy around.
A friend promised her a special computer program to track her performance, but that didn't come through. She moved to Plan B. "Spiral notebook, pen and pencil," she said.
This month, Armster plans to ratchet up her physical training. She said she has been exercising over the past month to get ready for more rigorous running. Now she'll be working on running a few miles to build up for the 6.4-mile Peachtree.
"In February, we start the 'no more Ms. Nice Girl' thing. I'll probably spend the first week doing some distance running," she said. > Follow Armster's victories and struggles on the first Thursday of each month in this community section, and read her weekly e-mail updates at www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/cobb/index.html
Copyright 2004 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution