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Before & After - A 100+ lbs success story!

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"My body is awesome, and every day, with everything I do, I will treat it as such!" --Molly Galbraith

Hi everyone! My name's Amanda and I'm a 35-year-old stay at home mom of three boys aged 14, 12, and 11. I have lost 100+ lbs and maintained that loss for over a year, so my focus now is not on losing more weight, but on learning to love my body and treat it well. I want to appreciate my body for the miracle it is, rather than disparage it for the perfection it isn't. I am strong, ...
"My body is awesome, and every day, with everything I do, I will treat it as such!" --Molly Galbraith

Hi everyone! My name's Amanda and I'm a 35-year-old stay at home mom of three boys aged 14, 12, and 11. I have lost 100+ lbs and maintained that loss for over a year, so my focus now is not on losing more weight, but on learning to love my body and treat it well. I want to appreciate my body for the miracle it is, rather than disparage it for the perfection it isn't. I am strong, fit, athletic, and healthy, and my goal is to stay that way for the rest of my life!

Note on Sparkfriends: On a regular basis, I remove inactive Sparkfriends from my list. If I know you well, I will only remove after a year of inactivity. If we've never really interacted, it will be after roughly six months of inactivity. If you return to Spark, please let me know and I will gladly re-add you! Believe me, I sorely miss my inactive Sparkpeeps!! Also, if I make a mistake and remove someone who IS active (I'm judging on last status update only!), also please let me know and I will re-add. For further explanation on why I keep this policy, please reference this blog post:


My weight loss journey was a bit unusual. I did not gain weight through overeating or sedentary lifestyle, but instead through illness and medication issues. I also didn't lose all this weight in order to be healthier or to look better, but instead to get away from a place of shame, depression, and self-consciousness. I simply wanted to look and feel like myself again!

The Journey Up:
Once upon a time, I was super thin and athletic. I weighed 125 lbs, ate fairly healthy foods (though never enough produce), and was reasonably comfortable with my body. Then, in August 1998, I had a procedure done on my teeth that led to 11 years of hidden infections. In that time, I had all sorts of seemingly-unrelated symptoms, including constant throat illness, hypoglycemia, allergic reactions to pollen I wasn't allergic to, and bipolar disorder symptoms. My weight also suffered, going on a bizarre roller coaster: holding steady for months at a time and then jumping up or down 20-30 lbs over the course of a few weeks (or even a few days), without any changes in my diet or exercise. My doctors gave me every test and medication imaginable - I used to call myself a walking pharmacy - but nothing helped.

The details on how those infections were found are far too long/complicated to post here. I will just say they involved a miracle-worker chiropractor, colloidal silver, a lot of record keeping, and a really fantastic endodontist. In September 2009, the last of the infections were cleaned out. Within weeks, the allergy symptoms, hypoglycemia, bipolar symptoms, and throat illness disappeared completely, never to return again. The only thing that didn't disappear, sadly, was the 130-lb net weight gain.

The Journey Down:
I began my weight loss journey at 255 lbs on November 27, 2009. In my first year, I really had no idea what I was doing. I managed to lose 20 lbs in 5 months, but then through a combination of laziness, depression, and lack of support, I stopped working hard. My weight held steady until Thanksgiving 2010 came around. By then, I was depressed and hopeless about ever being thin and fit again. The worst was the morning I woke from a dream that I was writing a memoir about the four things fat women can�t do without being ridiculed: eat, exercise, think, or enjoy themselves. When I woke up, I knew I felt that same shame during my waking hours, and I regained 5 lbs through shame-eating over the next few weeks.

In 2011, I started over, after seriously considering (but ultimately ruling out) weight loss surgery. I began small: more sleep, more water, more fruits/veggies, regular exercise, and always paying attention to my hunger cues. I lost 12 more lbs before I discovered Sparkpeople at the end of Feb 2011, making my total pre-Spark loss 27 lbs. By the time I reached November 27, 2011 - two years after I'd begun my journey - I was down to 189 lbs, a total loss of 66 lbs and only 4 lbs from being overweight (instead of obese).

Right around that second anniversary, I hit a wall with my weight loss. I kept going, kept doing what I was supposed to do, but my body started holding onto everything it could, and I started having a lot of health problems (most notably SEVERE insomnia). Despite all the barriers put up in my way, I lost a further 29 lbs in the third year of my journey, taking me to 95 lbs lost total. In a year where weight loss was very difficult for me, I had some great NSVs: running a full 5K for the first time in my life; maintaining my weight during a 12-week exercise ban due to stress fracture; getting to where I regularly ate 5+ freggies a day (something I once thought was impossible for me). It was also in this year that I stopped feeling FAT and started to feel like ME again.

Three months after my third weight loss anniversary in November 2012, I reached my original goal of 155 lbs (100 lbs lost), and switched into maintenance mode for the rest of 2013. In January 2014, I underwent abdominal surgery to repair the muscles and skin damaged by my pregnancies in 2000-2004. The rest of the year was spent recovering from surgery and a cross country move that summer.

I passed my fifth year weight loss anniversary on 11/27/14, and will reach my two year maintenance anniversary in Feb 2015. After two years of maintenance, I'm beginning a second journey to lose another 15-20 lbs, to take me firmly to the middle of a healthy body range (135-140 lbs on my 5'6 frame). I also want to improve my strength and my relationship with food in 2015. Here's to a fantastic 6th year on this journey!

Eat well. Move often. Speak kindly. Celebrate life.

Setting out to lose 100+ lbs can be daunting and feel impossible. I felt that way back in the beginning! But there are five things that I learned throughout my journey that became the pillars of my success, the things that helped me to lose 100+ lbs and keep them off, and I thought I'd share them for anyone who might be struggling with that same daunted, impossible feeling.

1. Slow = Permanent. At the very beginning of my journey, I made a decision to never eat at a severe calorie deficit. I do not have a fast metabolism, but I ate an average of 1700-2100 calories per day and still lost. Yes, it took longer to lose the weight that way, but it gave my body time to adjust and my lifestyle changes to become second-nature. It's easier to eat at a 250-500 calorie deficit than a 1000-calorie deficit, for sure, so it was much easier to stick with it and not give up (ie, I was not hungry all the time!). And, because I lost slowly, I do not gain back quickly, and maintenance has been a piece of cake! Totally worth the trade-off!

2. Determination, not Motivation. Motivation is fantastic! I used it every moment I could get my hands on it. But motivation never lasts very long, and I could not rely on it permanently. I had to draw on determination to succeed. A person does not need motivation to go to their job every day. They simply go, because they have to. I treated weight loss the same way. It was my job, something that had to be done even if I just didn't feel like it. I decided I was going to lose this weight, and nothing was going to stop me. Motivation = fickle and fleeting. Determination = control and empowerment!

3. Support support support! I can't say just how important this has been. My first year losing weight, I had no support system, and I failed. A HUGE part of my success in my second year and beyond has been thanks to my family and friends and Sparkfriends and Sparkteams. The more I put into building my support network, the more successful I - and others around me - have been.

4. Experimentation breeds Knowledge. Many times on my journey, things have started going wrong for me. I could have just kept doing what I was doing, hoping eventually things would go right again, but I didn't. Instead, I explored, questioned, and experimented. In doing so, I discovered new things about my body which enabled me to get past hurdles and move onto the next part of my journey. Just like I never let my body become sedentary, I never let my brain sink into torpor, either.

5. Never give up, no matter what! This should be obvious, but so many people let obstacles - big or small - derail them. I hit so many hurdles on my journey. Stress fracture, two-year plateau, eighteen months of severe insomnia, three car accidents in a year, surgeries, foot/ankle injuries...the list goes on and on. It didn't matter what life hit me with, though. I never gave up, no matter what. I kept going, and that has kept me on the path of success.

Best way to get to know me is through my blogs. Here are links to some of my favorites, including major accomplishments and milestones along the way:

Loose skin removal:

Life...with Vegetables!

Conquering a 13-year-old fear:

I'll know I'm done when...

Earning a Caribbean cruise:

I am overweight!

100 lbs lost forever!

Also: My success story was featured on the Sparkblog!
Read More About POOKASLUAGH (Updated April 20)



My Ticker:

33 Days until:  Homeward Bound

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Recent Blogs:


Member Since: 2/25/2011

SparkPoints: 117,392

Fitness Minutes: 65,322

My Goals:
- lose 50 lbs in 2011 - 11/8/11
- lose 100 lbs - 2/21/13
- maintain for 1 yr - 2/21/14
- maintain for 2 yrs - ongoing
- lose 120 lbs (on hold)

255 - start - 11/27/09
240 - getting serious - 1/1/11
228 - joined Spark - 2/25/11
205 - 50 lbs gone - 7/16/11
199 - ONEderland! - 9/6/11
185 - no longer obese - 1/4/12
175 - pre-pregnancy - 5/24/12
155 - 100 lbs gone - 2/21/13
154 - healthy BMI - 3/18/13
140s - 10/13/13
135 final goal (on hold)

NSV Goals:
- 25+ full pushups - 4/30/11
- fit into my wedding ring - 5/12/11
- 1 min jumping jacks - 5/26/11
- ride a bike again- 8/2/11
- RHR under 60 bpm - 10/4/11
- weigh less than my DH - 1/7/12
- run a full 5k - 3/25/12
- wear a normal swimsuit - 9/15/12
- run a full 10k - 1/12/13
- abdomen repaired - 1/13/14
- fit in my wedding dress -1/25/14
- 5+ pullups

My Program:
I am a paleo convert! Following a basic paleo food plan with roughly a 50% fat, 25% each carbs/protein ratio, averaging 1750 calories per day. I do moderate exercise 4-5 days per week, drink tons of water, and try to get 8 hrs of sleep per night. Been following this plan since 9/20/14 and it works really well for me both in terms of the scale and in how I feel on a daily basis.

Eat well.
Move often.
Speak kindly.
Celebrate life.

Personal Information:
Married stay at home mom (for now). Writer and bookworm. Liberal agender bisexual agnostic human secularist. I'm always curious about a Sparker's height, so putting mine out there - I'm 5'6. My username is a mix of two fairies: pooka, a happy fairy, and sluagh, a sad fairy. A sort of bi-polar combination. :D

Other Information:
Fav Band: Stiffs Incorporated
Fav Book: Possession by AS Byatt
Fav Movie: The Hours

Other things I love: writing, reading, chocolate, fountain pens, men's formal hats, classic lit, gothic aesthetics, NCIS, b&w German Expressionist films like Metropolis, tarot cards, autumn, champagne, well-written fantasy novels, French language and culture, gingerbread houses, calligraphy, henna, piano, chiropractors, sunsets and harvest moons, snow, Harry Potter, sleep, and my whole big extended family.


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Member Comments:
3/2/2015 10:00:18 PM

emoticon Belated Birthday wishes, Done Girl! emoticon I hope you had a fantastic day! emoticon

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3/2/2015 8:53:59 PM

Hope it was a great day on your birthday yesterday!

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3/2/2015 8:49:55 AM

Happiest of Birthdays Done Girl!!

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3/1/2015 8:52:04 PM

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