The SparkPeople Blog

Beth Donovan

SparkPeople Member

Beth has struggled with weight issues her entire life. She became disabled by degenerative diseases at age 36, leaving her unable to walk on her own and in chronic pain. More than halfway to her goal weight, she has used SparkPeople's resources and community to overcome the obstacles that prevented her from enjoying life. She has lost 150 pounds and counting and was a featured speaker at the Spark Your Life Convention in Cincinnati. She loves meeting her SparkPeople friends, as a way to spread the word that “Life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now.” Once totally bedridden, she now walks on her own and also uses a walker she named "Freedom." Her goal is to reach out to people who feel hopeless and give them hope again, no matter what shape they are in.


Read More of Beth's Blogs:

How To Celebrate Without Falling Off the Wagon

Valentine's Day is coming soon and, for me, that means chocolate and decadent dinners. Nearly every holiday has some sort of food attachment, whether it is a barbeque or turkey feast.  So how can you go to these events and enjoy the yummy food without blowing everything you've worked so hard for?
 
Realize that a holiday or a special occasion is just one day, or maybe one week for a cruise or vacation.  Many get anxiety and start eating in anticipation of the event at hand, figuring they will just blow it on the occasion anyway.  This is where living in the moment really counts.  Instead of letting that anxiety get you off track, focus on preparing for success before the big day comes.  Getting serious about your plan before a special occasion is a great way to ramp up your esteem, make you less likely to make poor choices, and helps control potential damage.

Posted 2/10/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 16 comments   7,965 views

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Tunes That Keep Me Moving and Grooving

Music is the number 1 way to get me to exercise, and I change my playlist up often.  A real motivator of mine is to save my very favorite songs only for workout time.  That way I am starving to hear them and can’t wait to hear the next one.  It keeps me working out longer and the time breezes by. 
 
Music has always been a big passion of mine.  I like everything from oldies, punk,  and classic rock, to alternative and 80s dance. 

The set I'm sharing with you today get me moving, even when I'm tired.  In fact, there are times when I don't want to exercise, but need to, so then I use the magic of music.  It makes you want to move.
 
If you don't have an MP3 player, you aren't alone.  I just got one.  I mixed up songs on YouTube and made playlists there instead of relying solely on CDs or the radio.  It helps to not have commercials interrupt your rhythm.  You are also assured that only songs that you like are coming up next with the speed you prefer.  Pause is a great feature, too!
 
If you want to save money on an MP3 player, try some of the "older generations" of the one that catch your interest.  Usually, while being new, they are less costly because they are not the latest, greatest thing on the market.  For example, if the latest version is a "7th generation," try looking for a "Generation 6 or 5."
 
Here are a few songs from my current playlist.  They are all upbeat, as I rarely have slow songs on my list.

Posted 2/3/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 42 comments   9,868 views

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Meet Greg, 155 Pounds Down, Thanks to SparkPeople

It is my pleasure to introduce to you who don’t know him, Greg Gaul aka Ksigma1222 who has lost 155 pounds!
 
Greg is one of the most fascinating people I’ve had the honor to meet in person.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and genuinely cares about others.  He has lost so much weight and made so many healthy changes! We both spoke at the 2009 SparkPeople convention, and we have maintained a friendship since.
 
He is such an inspiration to me that I call him “Rockstar.”  He has spoken at conventions, been on local television, hosted workshops in his hometown, been featured in both SparkPeople books, and I venture to say I don’t believe he is done yet.
 
He was born in Omaha, NW, but lives in Topeka, KS, where he is the Safety and Security Manager at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.  At age 38, he is married to his wife Melinda and had daughters Hannah (9) and Rachel (7) and son Jesse (2).  His hobbies are running, swimming, cooking, playing cards, pop up books, shopping, and anything that keeps him moving and living.  He joined SparkPeople in October 2007.

Posted 1/27/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 85 comments   25,111 views

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Sometimes When I Look at Myself...

Sometimes When I Look at Myself

 Sometimes when I look at me,
I see this person looking back,
And all that I can think of,
Is everything she lacks.
 
Her hair is brown and common,
Her eyes a bluish green,
She keeps her smile to herself,
As she doesn’t want it seen.
 
She’s heavyset and not athletic,
Her body not to her liking,
But actually she’s a butterfly,
Quite beautiful and striking.
 
Breaking through cocoon walls,
Made her very strong,
She never knew she had it in her,
But she had it all along.

Posted 1/23/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 120 comments   10,736 views

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Lauren Drops 80 Pounds with SparkPeople

Recently, I interviewed Lauren Wardell (Sparkgirl32), who has lost 80 pounds with SparkPeople. She joined SparkPeople at 197 pounds but had previously tipped the scale at 211. Lauren, 23, lives near Chicago.

~Indygirl:  What is your number one health priority and why?

Sparkgirl32:  My number one health priority is making sure I am living a life of balance. I am so passionate about what I do and helping other people, I have to make sure that I am making MY health a priority. I LOVE structure, so I make sure I’m leading a life of balance by scheduling my workouts, time to plan my meals, and time [for SparkPeople]. I’ve been trying to get all my ME time (workouts, reading, meal planning) done first thing when I wake up in the morning. I find if I don’t do this, I don’t have that time for me. Me time is VERY important—it allows me to be the best me I can be! When I’m the best me I can be, I’m helping people to the best of my ability (which is a HUGE priority for me). Taking that time out for YOU is SO important and one of the most selfless things you can do! It can be hard to reprogram though, and that’s why I have to schedule my “me” time—I’m hoping eventually this won’t be the case and will be something I do automatically!

Posted 1/13/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 80 comments   18,673 views

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My Best Advice for Those Just Starting Out

One of the most difficult things to do is change.  Some people thrive on it; I’m not one of those people.  A little here and there is good enough for me.  When it comes to changing your body, we all want it fast and now, including me. Now where was that genie in a bottle infomercial number I took down last night?
 
The number one advice I have for people is to embrace your change and your journey.  Make your changes slowly and for real.  If you’re the type who cleans out the kitchen, gets rid of all the food, swears to exercise an hour a day, and starve the fat off no matter what it takes, you too will burn with passion and have some success... that is until the burnout hits hard.
 
One of my mantras is "Aim for better every day, never perfect right away."  We can all achieve better, but not one of us will achieve perfect.  So quit holding yourself up to perfect standards.  Better standards are worth aiming for--always challenge yourself.

Posted 1/6/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 93 comments   19,567 views

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A Letter to the 'Haters'

I’m not the same person I used to be and it isn’t just losing weight that changed me. It’s personal growth mentally, physically, and spiritually. There is so much that others don’t know about me.
 
People on the streets aren’t always the nicest to people who are different. I get snickered at, teased, and blatantly laughed at. I have had my picture taken with camera phones. I wish they knew something about the person they are making fun of though. For instance, although I’m still overweight, they should know I fought my way back from being bed-ridden and still have the degenerative diseases that caused the situation in the first place. I deal with severe pain daily, yet I exercise. I have also lost 155 pounds and strive to motivate others with their weight loss and health efforts.
 
Yes, I used to be the victim of my diseases. I lay in bed and my husband took care of me.  It just didn’t sit well with me, living in just my room. I decided not to be a victim anymore.  I took the bull by the horns and found out what I could do.  I could go to physical therapy at first and that progressed to walking a 5K with my walker and being taken off of insulin.  I do everything in my power to fight back.  Sometimes it is tiring, but I take a break and get back to it.

Posted 12/30/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 315 comments   21,203 views

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What I Love about My Body Now

That headline, “What I Love about My Body Now,” implies that I ever loved my body in the first place.  No, I never did.  I hated and loathed ever part of it, except my face and hair, and even those had their moments.  I can’t say that before SparkPeople I ever did love my body.  Now, I’m wowed by parts of it, blown away with what it can do, and amazed at its ability to heal.
 
Let’s start with healing.  This very week, I got off of insulin shots!  I was taking two types plus 3 oral medications.  BIG!  I remember the doctors telling me that weight loss surgery was the only way for me to get off of insulin and heal.  I’ve stopped taking my blood pressure medication and my cholesterol is good, as well.  That is proof positive to me that, although I still have chronic pain issues from herniated discs, pinched nerve bundles, fibromyalgia, bad knees, and degenerative disease, I CAN improve something.  Around my 200-pound weight loss mark, my doctors plan to help me with some of my pain issues surgically.

Posted 12/23/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 96 comments   10,076 views

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Track Your Goals in Style with 'Counting Jewelry'

Editor's note: The writer reached out to Count on Me Jewelry because she is a fan of the company, which in turn provided her with bracelets to review.
 
Count on Me Jewelry takes counting anything to fun new level.  Each piece is hand-made and unique.  You get to choose your counting charm, which moves around a set of beautiful beads subtly counting for you.  They are “A healthy reminder that you are beautiful and can feel better.”
 
I found the concept intriguing, so I tried it.  I thought it was a bargain at $14.95.  When the bracelets arrived, I was very surprised at how beautiful they were. These bracelets looked like something from an upscale department store.  You get to personalize your bracelets by picking your colors and counting charm.
 
The two bracelets I got were the 100 calorie and the 50 calorie bracelets.  You start at a heart shaped stone on each, which points the way around the bracelet.  The number of beads and spacers on the bracelet let you know whether you are counting 50 or 100 calories.  Every bracelet allows for 2,000 calories.  If you need more, the site suggests counting past the heart stone a second time.

Posted 12/16/2011  1:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 25 comments   14,824 views

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The Importance of Celebrating Every Milestone


How do you know where you are going? You have a destination. How do you know how far you’ve gone?  You have milestones.  In my weight loss journey, I have chosen to mark my milestones with different things. For losing 100 pounds, I got a ring; for halfway to goal, a porch swing; for 150 pounds, a trampoline; a bracelet for my first 5K; and now I eagerly await a sandal charm for crossing over into the 200s from the 460s.
 
My ring has an open heart on it to remind myself to keep my heart open.
The porch swing helped me rock off some weight, as I used it to rock fast for that purpose.  The trampoline provides a soft surface for my low-impact needs in exercise.  The bracelet reminds me that I can do anything I set my mind to do.  The sandal will remind me to walk and of my dream of someday walking on a Florida beach with my husband again. 
 
Jewelry is a really easy mile marker, especially a charm bracelet. It allows you to customize your milestones.  There are so many charms out there from the very inexpensive to the expensive.  Each one is a character, item, animal, activity, tag, or shape to fit any achievement.

Posted 12/9/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 41 comments   10,693 views

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Lighten Up about Weighing In

When I was younger, I would jump on the scale a good 20-30 times a day.  I was obsessed.  It was like my life’s judge.  If the scale tipped upward at anytime, I must be a bad person and a failure.  If it dipped downward, I was walking on air!   Have you ever played this game, or is it just me?
 
IF I’m lower on the scale, I’ll be good, bit if I gained even an ounce, I’m eating this _____ and lying around in sweats all day.
 
That is sure giving a scale a lot of power, almost like a god, which it is not.  It is not a judge, jury, nor executioner either.  A scale is a tool for seeing only one tiny aspect of a very complex journey.

Posted 12/2/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 72 comments   10,082 views

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Lucy Shed 202 Pounds with SparkPeople

Editor's note: Once a month, ~INDYGIRL interviews a fellow 100-pound loser. Today, she's interviewing CRAZYMAMA46.
 
Lucy Herring-Parson (CRAZYMAMA46), 49, shed 202 pounds using SparkPeople.com. The Marion, Ind., native started at 387 and currently weighs 185. She's working to maintain her weight.

~Indygirl:  How does maintaining your weight loss make you feel?

Lucy:  I feel wonderful at times and scared at times. I still have the fear of inability to keep going and the fear of hurting myself again.

~Indygirl:  Did you believe you could do it at first?

Lucy:  No

~Indygirl:  What was your “A-Ha moment”?

Lucy:  When I was in a workout class with some very young and fit people and we were struggling to do the last 30 seconds of two-minute planks. I thought I was talking to myself but some overheard me saying "You can do ANYTHING for 30 seconds." They all said afterward how much I encouraged them and that it made them hang in there when they heard me. They thought I was talking to all of them. I realized then that even when you are on your own journey it does help yourself to help others.

Posted 11/25/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 114 comments   16,915 views

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The First Day I Decided to Live Again

Today 
 
I reach
Through beams of dusty light
Falling to the earth
Through all of their prisms and geometry
Past the wind that dances on my skin...
And I want to know
Am I the only one who sees it?
Here, right now?
In this frozen moment of time?
There is something so mystical about the ordinary.
How could I have missed it yesterday?
 
The ordinary, that’s the beginning of change. 
 
Bedridden at 460 pounds, I had become very complacent. After all, there was nothing I could do, I thought.  Getting out of bed and rejoining the world seemed to be an immense journey that would take years and willpower that I just didn’t have.  I got tired and depressed just thinking about trying to get out of my situation.
 
The day I decided to live was not some miraculous moment in time.  It was a “Why the heck not try this since I’ve tried everything else” kind of moment.  Amazingly enough, the tips from Dr. Oz’s book, YOU on a Diet and SparkPeople taught me to take things slowly and work with my body instead of against it.
 
I had to learn to take things slowly, work smarter, not harder, and change up my life to include more than food.  This was crucial!  My days consisted of staying in bed eating and doing anything I could from there.  That’s a small world.  The chronic pain didn’t help.  Somehow I had to reach beyond that and find friends and support, which I found on SparkPeople.  This gave me courage to reach out in the real world.

Posted 11/18/2011  11:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 74 comments   11,100 views

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Exercise Will Stop Being a Chore and Start Being Fun--But When?

Last week, I blogged about walking my first 5K, a huge accomplishment for me.
 
At what point did exercise go from being a chore to something to look forward to for me?
 
When I quit making myself try to perform at other people’s levels, started challenging myself, began playing with workout fashion and discovered the power of music.
 
OK, so maybe I don’t always look forward to exercise, but that’s mostly because I hate working out alone.  At home, a workout feels more like a chore, so I pull out the high-powered music that MAKES me move. I throw on some workout clothes that make me feel fit, rather than like a slob.  The sum of those two things usually gets me arm biking in no time.
 
I love music! I keep a hot playlist just for workouts.  It’s my treat for working out. 
 
They are my most addictive songs of the moment.  They have to be very upbeat and leave me with a hunger to hear more.  That will keep me working out longer and harder.  If I can’t listen to my playlist, except for during a workout, you can imagine how that turns the tables on a workout.

Posted 11/11/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Beth Donovan : 49 comments   14,976 views

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If I Can Do a 5K, So Can You

I’m not a 5K kind of girl.  In fact, I use a walker and a wheelchair.  I’m in severe pain most days and not what you would call "sporty."  I do, however like a good challenge.  When I was walking to strengthen my legs, my friend Mccourtt challenged me to walk a 5K.  Well, it was on!  So I set out to walk one.
 
Cindholm talked to me about pedometers on our first mall walk.  I bought a good one with what I thought was a sturdy bull clip by Omron.  It works very well but does have a tendency to fall off, so I recommend buying the safety strap with clip for it.
 
I knew I needed help, so my nephew Josh and I would take walks over the summer for training, walker in tow.  He is quite the taskmaster!  I would do anything for him, so when he says he wants to go, I go!  That’s good inspiration.  I would count steps at first--miles were far away.  We rested frequently, as my walker has a seat and I drank a lot of water.
 
Vettechinhippie helped me train three times a week, walking with my walker through shops and malls.  We did errands, walked all of the aisles of some stores, and took rest breaks frequently.  Eventually my pace got quicker and my legs stronger. Vettechinhippie is a very sweet friend who worked out with me through thick and thin, whether I had a painful day or she had many errands.  We adjusted.
 
BB_4_ME helped me train in the water and on recumbent machines at the gym to strengthen my muscles.  She is a great source of positive energy.  She is full of ideas and has been through chronic pain herself, so she is familiar with modifying exercise to fit individual needs.
 
Kind_heart101, my husband, then set up my iPod to do very accurate step, distance, and calorie counting for me.  After seeing how much pain I was being caused by my training, and how tired he got trying to train with me ONE day, he declared I couldn’t do a 5K.  I declared if I did, I got a Tiffany bracelet! 

Posted 11/4/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 110 comments   12,392 views

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