Barbara Lost 100 Pounds and Became a Triathlete!


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/29/2013 12:00 AM   :  59 comments   :  11,384 Views

Barbara Whitehead (ONEKIDSMOM)
Weight Lost: 100 pounds
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
Occupation: Computer Programmer/Analyst
What was life like before your weight loss?
I have been a compulsive eater since childhood, raiding my parents’ food stores and downing large volumes of candy when I could get it.  I was a fairly active child, so didn't start actually gaining the pounds until adolescence.  I lost with an unhealthy fast/feast diet cycle between high school and college, which is the last time I was in the 120s before this current lifestyle change.  I was the classic yo-yo dieter.  I’d try for a while, lose some, and then gain it all back. I was so unfit that walking five steps across the room to answer the telephone caused my mother-in-law to ask me whether I had been running.  I was afraid that if my young son would hurt himself on the playground, I would be unable to get to him to help him.
What was your ‘light bulb moment’ that made you get serious about losing the weight?
My motivation to lose weight was to save my life.  I also wanted to manage the stresses in my life in a healthier way and to be happy. The “a-ha moment” came when I realized it was not losing the weight or the number on the scale that made me happy.  It was the behaviors that gave me weight loss and a healthy weight as a side effect that truly made me happy!  I firmly believe that this is the revelation that will enable me to keep it off for life.
Tell us a bit about your weight loss journey with SparkPeople:
It has been a long road getting here, with lots of hills and valleys.  The initial weight loss that "hooked" me on taking better care of me was when I joined Weight Watchers at work.  I had to get past some resistance from those closest to me to do it, but I went anyway.  I dropped about 80 pounds that time, but maintaining the loss was difficult and after a few years of white knuckle attempts, gaining some, losing again; it all unraveled and I regained most of it.  I tried again, various times, always trying to "get back" to healthy.  Not because of the number on the scale but because of how good it felt to be able to run across a field with my young child.  I went to all the programs, read the books on the best sellers list, and was never completely satisfied, because most of them gave only lip service to what I felt the big issue for me was:  eating my emotions.  Eventually I ended up at Overeaters Anonymous, but found that played into some of my own character flaws.  I still believe in the principles of the steps they teach, and you'll find a flavor of that in what I write on my SparkPage and in my blogs. 
SparkPeople has allowed me a safe place to share my journey and to find kindred spirits.  And, it is a fantastic place to find the support of fellow maintainers.  Those of us who have lost can wear out our friends and family with how we must continue our vigilance and focus beyond the initial loss.  SparkPeople for me has been more about community support than anything else.  The tracking tools are easy to use and helpful.  However, I found that when I started blogging nearly daily--the good, the bad and the ugly--motivation started becoming far more consistent.  When I was low, there was always someone to buck me up.  When I was crowing, the pats on the back have been great.  But most importantly, it gives me a chance to offer my support, experience, strength, and hope to others.  We care about each other here on SparkPeople! 
 Barbara and SparkFriend SLENDERELLA61

What is your typical exercise routine like?
I like having a balance of activity.  My typical week includes at least one swim, one bike ride, and one or two runs.  It also includes at least one strength training session.  If I have time for more, I’ll add more.
And every day, no matter if it is a “rest” day or a workout day, includes a vitally important thing:  remembering to go to recess, like the little kids in school!  What that means is leaving the desk and walking for ten minutes, either around the block outside, or in the hallways if the weather is bad.
How would you describe your typical diet now as compared to before your weight loss?
I’m all about the fresh fruits and veggies.  I eat less, but enjoy it more.   I eat smaller portion sizes and more frequent meals, but I savor each bite.  Plus, I drink at least 8 cups of water a day (usually a lot more, because I gave up all carbonated beverages in December 2009).

What are some major personal fitness goals you’ve achieved or have coming up?
Ever since I saw the first television coverage of the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii (oh my goodness, that was decades ago!), I have been enamored of this multi-sport event.  In 2007, as part of one of my efforts to “maintain,” I challenged my siblings to do an informal one with me, and my brother even drove 1,100 miles to swim a half mile, bike 10 miles and run/walk a 5K in support of his sister.
I was really thrilled to put on a timing chip and compete in my first “official” triathlon in 2012.  I repeated the feat this past July.  I’ve been running longer distances, as well, a personal dream.  On September 7 and 8, 2013, I reached a long-time goal by virtue of a challenge race called a Double Half Mary.  This is a half marathon each of two successive days.  I won’t guarantee that someday I might chase after the full marathon in a single session.  But first, I really want to up my triathlon distance from the two sprint distances I’ve done, up to an Olympic distance race.  That one includes 1,500 meters in open water, 40 kilometers on a bike, and a 10K footrace. I’m still dreaming, and still doing, and having gotten back to fit makes it possible.

How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
My knees don't hurt.  My back doesn't hurt.  I don't stay sick as long if I succumb to a bug.  Everything is easier at this weight: running, biking, swimming, and just plain living!  I find that others relate to me differently, too.  As an adult-onset (maybe even senior-onset) athlete, I find that younger people who are near me in a race have said I am an "inspiration."
Congratulations, Barbara!

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