Down 143 Pounds, Ann Shares Her Story*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Editor's Note: EMMABE1 has lost 143 pounds and counting with SparkPeople. Ann, who is from Australia, recently answered ~INDYGIRL's questions via email.
~INDYGIRL: What was your a-ha moment when you decided to finally lose the weight?
EMMABE1: As far as one single a-ha moment – I really didn’t have one! It sort of snuck up on me.  There was a huge media blitz on "healthy living" and this maybe had some effect. I was also having problems with osteoarthritis in my knees and ankles, so my doctor was talking "knee replacement."  The risks were too high at that weight; however I knew that one day the time would come.  With weight loss, healthy eating and exercise, I have managed to stop all pain in my knees and at this time, replacement is definitely "off" indefinitely!

~INDYGIRL: How much weight have you lost?
EMMABE1: 65 kg (143 lb approx.) I had lost 35 kg (77 lb approx.) in the 7 yrs before joining SparkPeople, but was just "fiddling about" reducing the amount of food and calories I was eating, but not changing my lifestyle.  Consequently I was still wearing the same size clothes despite the weight loss, and because of this I was totally fed up with what I viewed as yet another failed attempt. Then in 2009, I was pointed towards SparkPeople.  In the last 2 1/2 yrs I have lost 30kg (66 lb approx.) but also I have lost a total of 70" off my body from changing my lifestyle.

~INDYGIRL: What made this time different in your mind?
EMMABE1: At first it wasn’t! I was very skeptical that this would work after a lifetime of failed attempts.  The mental change was gradual. At first I hated disturbing my day by getting up and moving, staggering through one exercise in pain, but then the inches started falling off, and as they did the support from the site members increased.  Gradually, "I can’t" became "maybe," then "I will."

~INDYGIRL: What did you do differently this time?

Exercise has never figured in any of the many weight loss programs I have attempted before; they all worked on lowering calories and starving.
Track my foods
Planning in advance and tracking to ensure that the macronutrients and calories are balanced works well for me.  

Increase the amount of vegetables we eat, particularly green leafy veggies and low carbohydrate vegetables.
Portion Control
At the start I was amazed by how little a portion was, having gotten used to large meals. These days I use small plate for meals and find the amount I eat is plenty to keep me full.

~INDYGIRL: How did SparkPeople help?
EMMABE1: The myriad of articles, weight loss tools, information and support available and freely given has made it easy.

~INDYGIRL: Were there any tools that were especially helpful?
EMMABE1: The Nutrition Tracker – I always plan meals for the next day on the day before, though I plan our main meals up to a month ahead. By planning in advance, I can save a lot of money and ensure they are balanced within my calorie allowance – after all, it’s too late after you have eaten the food and then discover you are over calories or unbalanced!

~INDYGIRL: What foods are your go to foods now?
Water – if I am hungry or late preparing a meal, I will have a glass of water. That often takes me to the next planned meal or gives me time to prepare food.
Canned tuna – always in the pantry – use for salads, and a great tasting and very quick Tuna Curry.
Healthy muffins are often in the freezer – my favorite ones – Savory Muffins.

~INDYGIRL: What exercises are your favorites?
EMMABE1: Zumba – I love the rhythm, and because I can do it! I do it at Curves, but also have a DVD set I use at home. I use Chair Exercises often too.  I do Chair Yoga 3 or so times a week, and often get up early and do a Chair Dance DVD before I start the day. I go to Curves 3 times a week now, but for 18 months I only did Chair Exercises, and it is from doing them that I am now able to cope with Curves and do Zumba.

~INDYGIRL: I know you run the Chair Exercise Team, can you tell me more about that?

EMMABE1: There are a plethora of great exercise video links on SparkPeople, however there are a section of society who are unable to use those exercises for many reasons.

Anyone who is handicapped by physical problems, or who is very obese has particular problems with mobility that often prevents any form of standing or walking exercise.

Also people who are excessively overweight have mostly been living a sedentary life often for a time, and the idea of exercise, even of moving much at all, can be totally daunting.
Because the leaders have all been obese, and have physical problems of their own they understand these problems so they can gently guide the members and encourage regular movement that can be done seated, in the safety of their home. That can vary from stretches, through strength, to Chair Dancing and Chair Yoga.

In many cases members start with Chair Exercises and then continue on to "main stream" exercises because the Chair exercises have given them the mobility and flexibility to be able to cope with other forms of exercise.  Others find they get a great workout from Chair Exercises and don’t need other exercise!  Having said this, we have a number of other members too, who find that Chair Exercises solve their exercise requirements, maybe for exercise they can do at their desk, or in their lunch time, or while the children are asleep, or even with the children who love dancing along to the music, as well.

~INDYGIRL:  What advice do you have for those out there wanting to lose weight?

EMMABE1:  To do it! Don’t put it off, thinking you will start next week or next year, waiting for "the right time" because the "right" time never comes – life always gets in the way! Do it for yourself, for your own reasons, but know that once you have made the change to healthy living you will never look back and you will always wonder why you didn’t do it earlier!
Have you put off losing weight for "The right time?"

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