Bits 'n' Pieces: Vancouver woman loses 220 pounds

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Losing more than 200 pounds is not for the faint of heart, and it’s not anything you can do quickly.

It took Janet Swayze of Vancouver nine years to reach her goal weight of 120 pounds, but on June 6 she finally hit her mark, with a little help from the weight-loss group TOPS Club, she said.

“On July 12, 2002, I turned 60 and I weighed 340 pounds,” Swayze said. “I got my feet underneath me and I decided, ‘I’m going to be thin.’”

Swayze had gastric bypass surgery, which led to some complications in the first few years.

After regaining her health, she was thrilled to watch as her dress size slowly shrank from a 24 to an eight, she said.

“I had a lot of my favorite clothes in my closet that I was too big to wear,” Swayze said. “When I lost weight, I tried again, put on my favorite dress and I found it was way too big.”

Even her shoe size dropped from a size 9 to a 7½.

“It’s been quite a trial and it’s taken a long time to get to my goal, but I’m so happy to be thin,” Swayze said.

Local woman represents county at state pageant

Miss Clark County 2011 Katie Parsons competed at the Miss Washington pageant in Renton last weekend. She didn’t walk away with the crown, but she did leave with new memories and friendships.

“I had a phenomenal time,” said Parsons, 23, a La Center native. “You don’t know what you’re capable of until you get out there on a stage in a swimsuit and rock it.”

Parsons competed in the preliminaries on July 1 in the swimsuit, talent, evening gown and on-stage question rounds. For the talent portion, she sang George and Ira Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

Parsons did not make it into the next day’s final round. She did, however, get to participate in three group numbers that night.

“So everyone got a chance to sparkle on stage,” she said.

Parsons will continue on as Miss Clark County through December. She graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in political science in 2010, and plans to go to graduate school to earn a master’s degree in international relations.

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Courtney Sherwood at 360-735-4561 or e-mail features@columbian.com.