How Two Valentines Lost 285 Pounds Together*


By: , – by Dani Arnold, LISTLOADRUN
  :  144 comments   :  57,572 Views

Editor's Note: Want to read more about Dani's story? Pick up a copy of the latest issue of First magazine, which features Dani and The SparkPeople Cookbook! Her story was also featured on Yahoo Shine this week.

Weight loss may not be the first topic that comes to mind when you think of Valentine's Day.  But there's really no better way to say "I love you" than resolving to get healthier, live longer and look better for your spouse, significant other, child or someone else close to your heart.  In the case of couples, several studies show that it's easier to lose weight with your partner as well as for them.  I should know.  My husband Rich and I lost a combined 285 pounds together.

We've been together almost 16 years now.  We've been through some hard times, especially losing family members and working long hours at multiple jobs to pay the bills.  We've always done it together though, which has made the load easier to bear.

But about three years ago, we looked down and realized we were both at our heaviest weight ever. I had put on a ton of weight after my mom passed away. We worked too much, took terrible care of ourselves, and weren't spending quality time together.  

So we made a commitment to each other and our marriage to make better choices.

We started small, by improving our food choices and watching portion sizes. Then I started using a free site,, for tracking foods and learning about nutrition. 

We lost a little weight, and decided we needed to get moving, too, with something we could do together.  We joined a Couch to 5K program , which helps running beginners work up to three miles within nine weeks.  As a former Marine, Rich was confident he was capable of the program, but I had never been an athlete and wasn't so sure.  I found it brutal at first, but he supported me all the way and convinced me I could do it. Before I knew it, we were running 3 nights a week together.

His struggle was with food and portion size. Since we both love to cook, we started spending more time together in the kitchen.  We knew to be successful long-term, we had to find ways to not only enjoy our food, but also enjoy the process of preparing it together, understand what we were eating, and how to best prepare it.  We used lots of healthy recipes in The SparkPeople Cookbook and on, which we also used to create recipes together. 

When all was said and done, we had lost about 285 pounds. I had gone from 266 to anywhere from 133-137 (depending on the day) and Rich had dropped from 385 to 225-230 (depending on the day).  Rich's cholesterol fell from dangerously high to normal without medication.  My resting heart rate is at an all-time low.  We've able to maintain our weight because we made a permanent transition from bad habits to a sustainable healthy lifestyle. 

Going through the weight loss together, leaning on each other and learning about ourselves as we went, has brought us closer than ever before.  We share a bond that goes beyond husband/wife/best friend.  We've seen each other at our absolute best and worst, and come through it with a new appreciation for “us”. We get to enjoy long hikes– stunning scenery, clean air, and some of our best heart-to-heart talks.

I have always respected and loved Rich for who he is, for everything from his service to our country as a US Marine, down to his integrity and kind heart. He’s smart, and he genuinely cares. I knew all of those things, but others were often hidden behind the extra pounds. As we've traveled down this new path though, I’ve watched Rich grow personally and professionally. I’ve seen him take on new challenges at work (including starting a new job with more responsibility that he is excited and passionate about) and allowing others to see more of the incredible man I have always known and loved.

Rich has also helped me see myself differently as well. He reminds me of my accomplishments and allows me to see myself through his eyes. His view of me as a smart, confident, beautiful woman is both flattering and inspiring, and has helped me continue to grow into this new improved version of me.

I'm grateful we've able to use our journey to strengthen our love and our marriage, and I hope our improved health will give me many more years to spend with my favorite Valentine.

Do you think dedicating weight loss to someone you love -- a spouse, partner, child, friend, or other someone special -- can better your chances of losing weight and getting healthy?

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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    You are an inspiration! You both look so happy! My husband and I are doing Spark together too. We take nightly walks around the neighborhood and talk. Hope we can look as good as you two! - 2/17/2012   6:58:50 AM
  • 93
    Fantastic.. My wife and I are on a similar path. - 2/17/2012   5:39:25 AM
  • MJ7DM33
    Thanks for sharing! Congrats! - 2/16/2012   9:02:49 PM
  • 123ELAINE456
    Congratulations!!! The both of you look fabulous. Way To Go. God Bless the both of you. Have a Wonderful Week. - 2/16/2012   8:25:04 PM
    Such a sweet story. Perfect for Valentine's Day! - 2/16/2012   3:28:50 PM
  • 89
    I love this article. - 2/16/2012   2:35:28 PM
  • 88
    I loved your story and shared it with my significant other. I hope we can say the same. Way to go guys! - 2/16/2012   7:21:02 AM
  • 87
    Most amazing! - 2/16/2012   4:19:49 AM
  • 86
    Wow......I am totally inspired! Both of you look amazing. Great job, especially doing it together! Thanks for sharing your huge accomplishment. - 2/15/2012   8:54:45 PM
    What an Inspiration!! You have no idea what this blog has meant to me. My husband and I are both on a "get healthier" journey. He only needs to lose between 20-30 pounds, and I need to lose about 100, but we are going at it equally. We cook together, we plan meals together, we even grocery shop together. He doesn't come to the gym with me, but we go swimming together.

    Seeing your success gives me confidence that we can make it too. Thank you so much for this blog. Perfect timing!! - 2/15/2012   8:09:02 PM
    You two look like you could be on the Red Carpet with all of the celebraties! Congratulation -- I know it's a tough battle! Great that you did it together! - 2/15/2012   6:22:23 PM
  • 83
    Good Job, great blog. You both look fab! My husband I work out together but it sometimes gets tricky becuse he is into adding mass and bulking up where I am trying to lose.. we definitetly don't eat the same and when we go to they gym together he does his thing and I do mine. But it is comforting knowing that he supports me as I do him. Always great to have in home cheerleaders. - 2/15/2012   5:39:08 PM
    I think it is strange that 2 ordinary people can go to movie star beautiful, just by losing weight! You inspired me! - 2/15/2012   3:39:04 PM
  • 81
    Thanks for sharing. Beautiful. My husband supports me in my weight loss and would like to lose weigh himself but he does not like to have to watch everything to strickly to reach that goal. He cooks healthy for us and eats those items as well but he is not committed as I am. This is a wonderful blog of two people helping each other on their life journey together. - 2/15/2012   3:23:09 PM
  • 80
    This is a very inspiring & romantic story. Thank you both for the motivation. - 2/15/2012   3:15:20 PM
  • DIETER27
    You both look amazing. Thanks for sharing your story you both are an inspiration! - 2/15/2012   3:00:48 PM
  • 78
    What an inspirational story! Congrats to you both, you look incredible! :) - 2/15/2012   2:34:17 PM
    You both are an inspiration to others! Thank you for sharing your story. You both look fantastic!! - 2/15/2012   2:03:46 PM
  • 76
    Amazing story! Kudos to your husband and you! - 2/15/2012   12:56:33 PM
  • 75
    Thanks so much for sharing your story!! What an inspiration! - 2/15/2012   12:50:43 PM
  • 74
    I love reading blogs and finding inspiration....but this is the best yet! Thank you both for doing this journey together and sharing it! - 2/15/2012   12:31:09 PM
  • 73
    Great blog! So awesome that you could do that as a couple! - 2/15/2012   12:04:27 PM
  • 72
    This is so inspiring to me. Thank you very much for sharing your story. - 2/15/2012   11:35:24 AM
  • 71
    Amazing story...thank you for sharing. This is truly inspiring. - 2/15/2012   11:13:08 AM
  • 70
    i REALLY enjoyed reading this story! - 2/15/2012   11:05:06 AM
  • 69
    This is great you both look wonderful. This gives me the motivation to never give up and to encourage my husband to join me in my journey to a healthier me. Thank you for sharing. - 2/15/2012   10:50:29 AM
    Wow you look fabulous - 2/15/2012   6:01:38 AM
    A great story to see! My wife has lost over 25 pounds and I've lost 110 since joining SP. So we know that supporting each other makes for a healthier relationship. - 2/15/2012   6:01:12 AM
  • 66
    I was SO EXCITED to see this story featured as a top story on Yahoo this morning! W00T! Hooray for both of you, AND for Sparkpeople!! - 2/15/2012   5:36:09 AM
  • 65
    Fantastic. Well done, you both look amazing. - 2/15/2012   5:28:37 AM
  • 64
    I think dedicating one's weight-loss journey to a loved one can be a great motivator as long as they don't become an excuse for failure. The responsibility always lies with each person, what the choices are. - 2/14/2012   8:47:44 PM
  • 63
    congrats! what a great way to take your life back. - 2/14/2012   7:29:09 PM
  • 62
    Congratulations on all your successes. You are a beautiful couple. Nice to see a couple in love. I've been married 41 to my best friend too. Good luck. - 2/14/2012   6:59:09 PM
  • SHINTON1618
    That is really inspiring to hear. My fiancee and I are trying to do the same thing, and I am glad to see it working out so well for someone else. - 2/14/2012   6:01:35 PM
  • 60
    Did one of you have to convince the other to do it? I would love it if I could get my husband to join me on my healthy journey. Any tips? - 2/14/2012   5:19:12 PM
    Congratulations! You both look amazing! - 2/14/2012   5:02:52 PM
  • 58
    Congrats!! This is really awesome in every sense of the word :-) - 2/14/2012   3:23:07 PM
  • 57
    Awesome inspiration and CONGRATS on taking life back! - 2/14/2012   2:05:56 PM
  • 56
    Very, very inspirational!! Congratulations!!!! You guys look totally AWESOME! :) You've been saved to my favs!! God Bless!! - 2/14/2012   2:03:54 PM
    Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing! - 2/14/2012   1:53:56 PM
  • SUNSET09
    Well, you could have dressed up in the before picture! LOL! Way to go and you both are an inspiration. Than x for sharing! You did it! - 2/14/2012   1:25:45 PM
  • 53
    You two are awesome! And look amazing! - 2/14/2012   1:11:37 PM
  • LORTHOM2001
    my goodness! how wonderful you two look...seriously! kudos :-) - 2/14/2012   1:03:30 PM
  • 51
    What a great story you two Valentine's have! Such an inspiration and a great idea to do it together! Thank you for sharing. - 2/14/2012   12:47:50 PM
  • 50
    Read this on Yahoo this morning! What an inspiration you are. Thank you and congratulations! - 2/14/2012   12:32:18 PM
  • 49
    What a wonderful Valentine's story of love and committment. I am glad that the both of you have improved your lives together so that you will have many more memories and holidays together! - 2/14/2012   12:21:08 PM
  • 48
    Congrats! So happy for you and to see this story featured on Yahoo! Awesome! Keep Spreading the Spark! - 2/14/2012   12:20:17 PM
  • 47
    What a wonderful story, it shows how supporting each other always work. Happy Valentine's Day - 2/14/2012   12:18:08 PM
  • 46
    Your story is absolutely amazing, and I'm sure you worked incredibly hard! Congratulations, and thank you for the inspiration. - 2/14/2012   12:08:27 PM
  • 45
    What a wonderful story you've shared! Thank you for the encouragement; you both look amazing! - 2/14/2012   11:32:57 AM

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