From Bedridden to Loving Life, 240 Lbs. Lighter

220SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/11/2013 6:00 AM   :  198 comments   :  26,376 Views

Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)  
Weight Lost: 240 pounds (and counting!)
Hometown: Fishers, IN
 
What was life like before your weight loss?
I have been heavy since childhood.   I became my largest in the early 2000s.    I ate for comfort and refuge from my life.  I had a very controlling mother and watched my father die of a heart attack.  Both were abusive and very heavy, but they sure watched everything I ate.   Then, behind my mother's back, my dad would take me out and challenge me to eating contests.  In my teens and 20s, my weight was kept under control mostly by bulimia.  I always sought comfort in food, and when I got married and things got rough at times, my eating would escalate. 
At my largest, it also was the saddest time of my life.  I lived in my bedroom and could no longer walk.  I became disabled by three herniated disks, two pinched nerve bundles, fibromyalgia, degenerative joint disease, and arthritis.  I had to stop and rest just trying to get around my house to get to the restroom or kitchen.  I also had to quit my job and could no longer fit behind the wheel of a car.  Days became very lonely, as I stayed home alone for years.  Several times, I became so depressed I called the crisis line.  

What was the main motivation behind your weight loss?
My best friend, Tina, was my biggest motivation to lose weight.  She had weight-loss surgery, which I didn't want to do, but she was out having a life again.  I wanted that too!  Then, I read a book called "YOU: On a Diet."  It taught me how to stay satisfied.  My other friend, Lori, pointed me to SparkPeople and I became an addict.  Every time I feel like eating, I log on.  Let's just say that some days while I'm home alone, I'm on A LOT!

Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey:
I attempted weight-loss surgery three times, and finally achieved a "YES" from the medical staff on the third try. At the mandatory pre-surgery meetings, all of the patients were complaining of being hungry after eating, wanting to eat emotionally, and binge.  I then realized it was stomach surgery, not brain surgery. No need to cut up my stomach; first I needed to get my head right.  So, I fired my doctors and got new ones who would prescribe a new approach.



I started with in-home physical therapy, where I learned that even little movements prepare you for bigger ones. Since I couldn't walk, I got an arm bike and used it faithfully.  I also created seated exercises. I weighed and measured everything. I rejoiced at every loss, no matter how big or small, and implemented a reward system. I eventually made it out of my wheelchair and up to a walker. Once on a walker, I trained for a year and then walked a 5K with it at the mall, where I could take breaks at each end.

The SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker helped me get a realistic view of what I was really eating and Coach Nicole inspired me to move. I started logging my arm bike miles on the Fitness Tracker, and I felt proud with each entry. 

There was so much to read and earn SparkPoints for, so I kept busy like a college student learning a new lifestyle. I blogged about everything once I saw there was hope.  I wanted others to have hope, too. I've gotten so much support from the people on SparkPeople.  Without them, I fear I would fail, yet again.  They are my cause and my support. Now, I travel, holding rallies to promote SparkPeople and help people see that it can be done, no matter what shape you're in, no matter your ability level, no matter your age… you CAN do something.

What is your typical exercise routine like?
Currently, I walk a few times a week and utilize my Fitbit as motivation to increase my distance.  I also still use my arm bike in addition to a recumbent bike, yoga, and isometric exercises.  My routine varies from day to day.  Some days I’m not able to do as much as I would like to because of chronic pain from my disability, but as I always say, "Something is better than nothing!"  I sit on a stability ball at times and just make figure eights or I "bed dance" using just my upper body. It all started with lifting shampoo bottles in bed as part of physical therapy, and I’ve come a long way since then!

In what ways have your eating habits changed?
I have a few "~Indyisms" that I live by. Here are two that give you an idea of how I approach eating now: "One slice of pizza always has less calories than two" and "If you got a flat tire, you wouldn’t run around the car in a frenzy popping the other three.  You would fix the one and get back on the road."  These two mantras significantly help me.  I now stop eating before excessive damage is done and can prevent a binge with these thoughts.

I also like to say: "Life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now."  "You don’t have to be thin to act thin."

What advice would you give to someone either just beginning or hitting a rough patch in their weight-loss journey?
Forgive yourself easily and treat yourself like you would a good friend or a child.  Track your food and exercise; it really helps more than anything you can imagine.  It helps you see that you are screwing up far less than you think you are and it also serves as a confessor.  Once you write it down and confess your food sin in your tracker, you are forgiven, so move on.

How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
I went from specialty catalogs to large size stores, and now to normal stores for clothing. I went down in both wheelchair and walker sizes.  I can use a seatbelt, wear a swimsuit, fit in a booth or theater seat, and go on a plane! I feel confident and like a fighter now. My husband and I have a much better relationship now, and this helped me become much happier.  Having much more support and less stress was very freeing, I could start discovering myself without as much fear. I also felt free to try new things, explore my emotions and express myself in a new way. I want to fight for every overweight person out there to have that second chance at life that SparkPeople gave me.  I now see myself in a whole new light and have hope again.  I’m no longer trapped in a room waiting to die. I’m happy to live!


Thanks for sharing your story, Beth.
Editor's Note: You can read all of Beth's SparkPeople blogs here, and she has also started a SparkTeam (Team ~Indygirl) to help others.

This was her before weight loss:





Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
 

NEXT ENTRY >   VIDEO: Coach Nicole Answers Fitness Questions on Google+

Great Stories from around the Web

Comments

  • CTJGIRL119
    198
    Congratulations on your success. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Wishing you continued success. - 11/3/2014   12:43:57 PM
  • 1HOTPEP
    197
    Congrats on your success! Touched home for me as I have much of the same medical issues. Your story gives me hope - 11/3/2014   2:33:10 AM
  • KAYTSUE
    196
    amazing success story, inspiratonal🌟🌟
    775;
    - 9/25/2014   3:17:31 PM
  • CTJGIRL119
    195
    You are such an amazing woman and very inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing your story and journey with us. - 9/5/2014   5:38:28 AM
  • 194
    What an amazing story and an equally amazing woman. Congrats on your will-power and y our achievements. - 8/17/2014   7:40:38 PM
  • RILEYMOM24
    193
    You are amazing Beth! If you can do it, everyone can!
    - 8/4/2014   12:46:38 PM
  • 192
    Thank you for sharing Beth! I have bookmarked your story and I am sure that it will help get me through some challenging times when I want to give up! I look forward to building a Spark friendship with you and sharing this journey to health. - 8/1/2014   11:36:44 PM
  • 191
    I am so happy for you and love how you use your success to help others who may feel hopeless! - 7/21/2014   6:45:41 AM
  • OFATCAT1
    190
    I am impressed by your life journey! You are a true inspiration. - 6/16/2014   12:36:30 AM
  • 189
    You look amazing! You did it and I am so happy for you. Thanks for the encouragement. I have about 120 pounds to lose and sometimes it seems hopeless. But you have proven that I can do it because you were strong and you did it. - 6/2/2014   3:41:58 PM
  • TECHCHICK1109
    188
    Thank you for sharing your story! - 5/27/2014   9:40:11 AM
  • 187
    Beth u r AWESOME & such an inspiration! I miss u! - 5/20/2014   11:56:12 AM
  • 186
    Amazing. What an inspiration. - 5/18/2014   8:28:10 PM
  • 185
    Beth, you are such an encouragement!!! I have a little over 200 pounds to lose and I am tired of being unhealthy....thank you for sharing your success, it has really encouraged me! I also have a son that is morbidly obese and I want to help him as well...I am thankful to people like you and to SparkPeople especially!! - 2/15/2014   2:06:38 PM
  • 184
    Beth, I'm so impressed and inspired by your weight loss story. Thank you for sharing your message of hope. I, too, struggle with spine problems which has recently hindered my workout regimen. I like what you said that doing something is better than nothing, and also I liked your binge eating "popped tire" analogy. Thank you. - 1/28/2014   6:49:16 PM
  • 183
    ABSOLUTELY inspiring! - 1/16/2014   12:57:32 AM
  • 182
    i wish........ - 1/15/2014   9:12:09 PM
  • 181
    i wish........ - 1/15/2014   9:11:53 PM
  • ABEDORE
    180
    Your story made me a little teary. Congratulations-what a huge accomplishment. - 12/24/2013   11:15:55 AM
  • 179
    You are amazing and very much an inspiration to me. I believe anything is possible and you have proven that.... I want to do this for me and finding Sparkpeople will be the thing that helps me succeed reading stories like yours gets me revved up... Thank you - 12/2/2013   10:40:29 AM
  • 178
    What an inspiring story! I am sure you will help many others by sharing your experience. - 10/31/2013   8:56:59 AM
  • JANETLEE55
    177






    Very inspiring!!! I have a lot of weight to lose, and I am not sure how to get motivated since I have started so many times. I have had gastric surgery and sabotaged the surgical part by not working on my head. It is just a tool, not a catch all for losing weight. I am currently 100# overweight, have fibromyalgia, arthritis, back problems, knee problems with all of this excess weight on a 5'1 frame. I am miserable and in a but time rut, sometimes I am not sure if I can even carry on....the depression and self depreciating is really hard. I do hope I can do something fast!!! Good luck to you, you look great!!!


    - 10/31/2013   7:40:06 AM
  • QOFHXO
    176
    Your glowing smile says it all!
    The willingness of "sparkers" to share is what makes this site so special.
    Thank you for sharing your journey.
    You inspire me!
    - 10/20/2013   6:57:49 PM
  • 4TRUMAMA
    175
    Dear Beautiful Lady,

    Thank you for your courage in sharing, your persistence, and your positive attitude. You have really inspired me tonight! - 10/17/2013   9:37:37 PM
  • 1NEATA
    174
    AMEN!!! - 9/19/2013   6:38:55 AM
  • PINKWANTSTOLIVE
    173
    Fantastic job congratulations - 9/16/2013   7:54:43 AM
  • BUBBLETOES165
    172
    Your story is very inspirational. Thank you so much for what you do! :) - 9/14/2013   3:32:29 AM
  • JANIS84
    171
    Thumbs up, lady! Great commitment! - 9/13/2013   2:56:30 AM
  • 170
    I've read my fair share of success stories and yours is one of the best. Thank you for being so candid and for sharing! Kudos to you too, btw, you look great!! - 9/12/2013   9:45:55 PM
  • 169
    AWESOME!!! - 9/11/2013   12:33:36 PM
  • 168
    Keep up the good work!
    - 9/7/2013   4:14:56 PM
  • BRILINGRA3
    167
    I am so proud of you! Your devotion serves as an inspiration to all! - 9/7/2013   3:46:46 PM
  • 166
    Girl, you're killing it! Congrats on making so many positive changes in your life! - 9/5/2013   1:46:19 PM
  • PRITTLE
    165
    I have no excuse you're awesome and amazing. - 9/4/2013   12:50:18 PM
  • DEGAGAL
    164
    Hi Beth: My name is Teresa Sewell, I just finished reading about how you lost your weight, I guess I am asking for some advice from you for a problem that I have I have a nephew who is 25 years old, he has a job that requires mostly sitting all day long he currently weighs over 400 lbs and I am really afraid that he is really damaging his health due to this enormous weight, he does not like any veggies except for potatoes and corn he has a lot of difficulty with portion control and he really does not like to exercise but he has begin to walk with my son who is 20 years old and somewhat overweight he probably weighs 220lbs or something like that, my nephew really does not think he has a problem but I know deep down it has to bother him can you give me some advice on how you got started and was able to keep your motivation up and what type of foods you ate. Thanks so much for the help. - 9/4/2013   10:36:39 AM
  • DEGAGAL
    163
    Hi Beth: My name is Teresa Sewell, I just finished reading about how you lost your weight, I guess I am asking for some advice from you for a problem that I have I have a nephew who is 25 years old, he has a job that requires mostly sitting all day long he currently weighs over 400 lbs and I am really afraid that he is really damaging his health due to this enormous weight, he does not like any veggies except for potatoes and corn he has a lot of difficulty with portion control and he really does not like to exercise but he has begin to walk with my son who is 20 years old and somewhat overweight he probably weighs 220lbs or something like that, my nephew really does not think he has a problem but I know deep down it has to bother him can you give me some advice on how you got started and was able to keep your motivation up and what type of foods you ate. Thanks so much for the help. - 9/4/2013   10:36:38 AM
  • 162
    Reading this again and again. You are amazing! - 9/4/2013   7:46:01 AM
  • SMCLEAN0
    161
    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is so motivational!
    What an accomplishment!
    So proud of you! - 9/3/2013   6:49:47 PM
  • 160
    Thank you so much for the details you gave. I cannot walk for longer than about 3 minutes at the moment. It really helps me to hear how you were able to exercise without walking. You are an inspiration - 9/2/2013   1:40:12 PM
  • DIANERZEBET
    159
    YOU are SO rocking girl! Congrats on the weight loss, your new life and style! You inspire me and I have moderate impairements and 60 lbs to loose! Thank you so much for telling your story. - 8/31/2013   7:13:28 PM
  • SONYASK1
    158
    well done to you. Thank you for sharing, I have decided today is the day I stop making excuses and get back on track. You look amazing - 8/31/2013   4:39:42 PM
  • HAN1978
    157
    I'm so glad I come on these success stories pages!! I'm only in day 2 of my 140lbs weight loss journey and your two mantras are helping me already!! I've already eaten too much for breakfast, but of course thought I was fine. However, it's ok! I now know that I need to rethink it again and I'm alright with that!! Weightloss is trial and error and it's taken me 20 years to realize that you can't succeed in the trials without the errors! Thank you so much for helping me see that with your story! God bless! - 8/30/2013   8:37:17 AM
  • BLESSED15
    156
    You are a testament to what a person can achieve if they only believe and work toward their goal with no excuses and determination. Thank you for sharing. - 8/29/2013   2:52:14 PM
  • 155
    You are a wonderful inspiration! You have made me realize that some movement is better than no movement! I have had it in my head that if i couldn't exercise for x amount of time, then it wasn't worth it. Thank you for proving me wrong. - 8/28/2013   8:04:25 PM
  • 154
    What a wonderful, wonderful testimony! Thank you so much for sharing your story and inspiring those of us who are just starting. - 8/27/2013   1:11:05 PM
  • 153
    Awesome! - 8/26/2013   7:20:05 PM
  • 152
    All I can say is wow! When I go to the gym and see people who are 100+ lbs overweight I marvel at their courage. Your story is just amazing. Good for you for realizing the problem was not in your stomach and walking away from surgery too. Most of all thank you for sharing your story and helping others! - 8/26/2013   12:35:05 PM
  • SEREIA9
    151
    Thank you for reminding me that even small changes make a big difference. You are very inspiring! Congratulations for all your hard work!

    I also have arthritis, and through trial and error I am finding that sugar, dairy products, and wheat seem to set it off for me, as recently as last week. But when I climb back on the wagon and eat healthy foods again, along with flaxseed, it goes away. Finally I feel in control again, and it's a wonderful feeling. - 8/25/2013   11:51:05 PM
  • 150
    Your story is remarkable! You speak for so many of us that binge and loose out on life. I hung on every word in your story! You look beautiful, happy, and very healthy!!!! Congratulations on achieving the well-deserved body that you've worked so hard for!
    - 8/24/2013   7:45:01 PM
  • 149
    God bless you! - 8/21/2013   11:16:44 PM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Join SparkPeople.com

x Lose 10 Pounds by January 10! Get a FREE Personalized Plan