Grace Jacobs has lost more than 150 pounds in the last 17 months. She trains three times a week at Training Effects in Londonderry, N.H., with Bill Eacrett, her personal trainer, who she says saved her life by helping her get fit and healthier.

For Grace Jacobs, the transition from being a fit, six-day-a-week aerobics class enthusiast to a 300-pound mom who loved to bake rich food and watch cooking shows happened so gradually, she hardly noticed.

She simply got wrapped up in the lives of her two children, the local school board and her career as a real estate agent; she stopped making time for exercise.

“You kind of get complacent and you don’t realize that the weight comes on, 20 pounds a year, 15 pounds a year,” said Jacobs of Derry, N.H.

Two years ago, when she realized she had reached 300 pounds, she decided something had to change. Diet programs hadn’t worked and she was contemplating weight-loss surgery when a friend recommended a personal trainer at Training Effects gym in Londonderry.

Jacobs called the gym and asked if she could come in for an appointment the following week. Trainer Bill Eacrett talked her into coming that day.

“I was a big girl,” Jacobs said. “To walk into a gym, this is a training facility. There aren’t a lot of 300-pound people. They’re pretty fit.”

Despite her reservations, her sense of urgency about her weight got her in the door.

“I was at the end of my rope,” she said. “I had to make some decisions. It was sort of my last resort.”

Eacrett started by taking Jacobs’ measurements and helping her set realistic goals. Jacobs said she wanted to lose 100 pounds, but Eacrett guided her toward a more realistic, short-term goal of just a few pounds in the first month. He also designed an eating plan for her that consisted of five or six small, balanced meals each day, and started her walking on the treadmill and doing some gentle strength training.

“He had me walk for five minutes, I think,” Jacobs said. “I was out of breath.”

That was March 2006. Today, at age 49, Jacobs weighs less than 150 pounds. She runs an interval program on the treadmill 30 minutes every morning and evening, averaging 8 to 9 miles per hour. She continues to strength train with Eacrett three days a week at the gym. She’s so dedicated to healthy eating that she doesn’t even like to take “cheat” days when he tells her to.

“It was really good to have somebody to be accountable to,” said Jacobs, noting that Eacrett put her on the scale at every session.

“How do you cheat when you know the next day you had to get on the scale?” Jacobs said. “He never said anything to me. He would just give me that look.”

One of the best things about losing all that weight, she said, is feeling like she’s healthier for her family.

It bothered her that for years she couldn’t take her daughter on a roller coaster because she didn’t fit in the seats.

“I loved anything fast and dangerous, the higher the better,” Jacobs said. “I’ve always been like that. I just like that thrill.”

In June, she took a family trip to Disney World and finally was able to join her 15-year-old daughter on roller coasters.

“I was running ahead of my daughter,” she said. “I was like a kid. I was running through the park.”

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