Erika Lost 90 Pounds and Beat Depression*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Name: Erika Schnure
Amount of weight lost: 90 lbs.
Hometown: Oak Park, IL
Occupation: Meeting Planner
Age: 28
What was life like before your weight loss? Just before I lost weight, I was in a very bad place personally. I had just lost my job, I was extremely depressed, and I ate for comfort during my days at home. I used a popular weight-loss program to lose 55 pounds in 2010, but once I lost my job and couldn’t pay for the food anymore, I gained every single pound back, and then some. This landed me at 230 pounds at 5 foot 6 inches tall. I was completely miserable. In just my mid-20s, I was on the verge of being categorized as having high blood pressure, and my cholesterol was very high. I had given up. I thought my weight was due to genetics, and there was nothing I could do about it, so why try to eat healthy? Why pay for a gym when working out wouldn't do anything?

What was your ''light bulb moment'' that made you get serious about losing the weight? After losing my job in DC, I ended up moving back in with my parents in the Chicago area for about a year. Shortly after I moved home, my mother, who was also obese at the time, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Obviously, I understood the genetic implications of such a diagnosis, and I knew I was in danger of the same problem. Moving home may have actually been the best thing for me, because living in the far suburbs meant that I could not just walk a few blocks to gorge on burritos and cheeseburgers at my neighborhood restaurants like I could in DC. The closest fast food restaurants were miles away and required a car trip. I realized that eating as poorly as I did was just not worth it. As I made that realization, I discovered that eating well was not only a lot cheaper and easier, it was much more delicious!

Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey. Once I moved home, my weight loss started sort of unintentionally. As I started eating more home-cooked meals and curbed some of my old eating habits that would embarrass me to do in front of my parents (like eating an entire box of macaroni and cheese, a regular occurrence back in DC), I found that pounds were dropping off. I was motivated by the loss in itself, so I kept going and kept finding better ways to eat healthy: new recipes, new ingredients I’d never tried, and new ways to snack.

Once I’d lost about 50 pounds solely by changing my eating habits, I plateaued. I knew that I had to add in exercise. Despite never having been a runner and having always hated running, I signed up for a 5K on a whim in July 2012, and after finishing it in over 41 minutes, I felt my first ''runner’s high'' and was totally hooked. I started a Couch to 5K program the next week, and then moved on to a 10K program. I bought my own place, and then shortly thereafter, I reached my goal on April 16, 2013, weighing in at 140 lbs. I ran my first half marathon in October 2013. I didn’t just lose weight: I changed my entire lifestyle.

Did you encounter any obstacles during your journey and, if so, how did you deal with them? A runner’s worst enemy can be injury. I’ve been injured several times since becoming a runner. The trick is finding ways to compensate or work around it. Recently, I suffered a concussion, and was therefore able to do absolutely no strenuous exercise. I compensated by walking in my neighborhood instead, and by paying careful attention to what I was eating. When I had a calf muscle strain, I pulled back on my running, but focused on my upper body instead, using my kettlebells to do some upper-body strength training. There are always ways to work around an obstacle; sometimes you just have to be creative!

What tools, routines, habits, and motivators did you find most helpful to help you stay motivated?  I began tracking my running from Day 1. I always track my mileage, which is so important for me, especially when I am training for a race like a half marathon. has a great mileage tracker, and I use a few other phone apps and even podcasts to make my runs a little more entertaining. As for staying motivated, the fact that I actually reached my goal and was able to accomplish that feat keeps me motivated. I know now that I am absolutely capable of making myself the healthiest I can be, and I am so determined to never be in that miserable, depressed, obese state ever again. I never again want to be ashamed of myself like I was; I am motivated by the pride in myself that I did it.

Did you ever slip up or hit a plateau? If so, how did you overcome it? I did mention my plateau after which I added exercise, but I’ve absolutely slipped up. I think everyone has at some point. After reaching my goal, I went on a long business trip and couldn’t eat the way I usually prefer. I ended up gaining six pounds in two weeks. I felt so disappointed in myself, and I made a very conscious effort to get right back into my healthy eating routine and my running routine when I got home.

What is your typical exercise routine like? As my username implies, I am a runner! I really love running because I find it to be such a great stress release for me. When I was obese and had a bad day at work, I would comfort myself with fried chicken for dinner. Now, after a stressful day, I run instead, and feel amazingly better afterwards. When I am healthy and in training mode, I run about 30 miles a week. I usually run 4-5 miles every other weekday, and save my long run (10+ miles) for the weekend. In between, I love my kettlebells, because they’re cardio and strength training in one!

How would you describe your typical diet now as compared to before your weight loss? My diet is drastically different. My usual day before my weight loss would include: sausage, egg and cheese sandwich from a coffee shop for breakfast; double cheeseburger and large fries for lunch; and a whole medium-sized frozen pizza for dinner. And that doesn’t even count the snacks (which, in one day, would sometimes be half a box of Cheez-Its and more)! Now, I’ll usually have two frozen waffles with a little bit of light butter for breakfast on the go during my drive to work; a light yogurt and light frozen entrée for lunch; and marinated chicken with long grain and wild rice and a simple salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing  for dinner. My snacks now are maybe a handful of pistachios, a few baked pita chips with some hummus, or a low-calorie granola bar.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight-loss program? I think about how I felt when I was obese, and I would say the biggest thing to remember is the following: Do not give up. Losing 90 pounds was not easy. It was a lot of hard work that I was more than willing to put in for the sake of my health. There are always some setbacks you run into, but you can overcome them. It takes a lot of effort to lose weight, but do not let that stop you! It is the most rewarding thing in the world to put in the work and then see the results on the scale or in the fit of your jeans. The day I fit into a size 4 for the first time since middle school, I was so elated that I could not even compare the feeling. Look for delicious, healthy recipes. Find a physical activity that not only makes you sweat, but that you really love. I promise you that the results are worth more than anything.

Did you experience any other benefits (improved relationships, reaching other goals, improved self-image/confidence, improved lab work/medical condition etc.) in addition to losing weight?  My confidence, my self-image, and my mental health went through the roof as I was losing weight. My entire mentality changed for the better, but obviously my physical condition improved drastically as well. My BMI is now in a healthy range, my body fat percentage puts me in the ''fitness'' range, and amazingly, much of my cellulite has disappeared. My resting heart rate, as reported by my doctor, is 44, which is the kind of heart rate that an elite athlete would have, according to experts. My cholesterol and blood pressure is normal now, and all my other blood work results are near perfect.

How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health? I can’t even begin to describe how much my life has changed after my weight loss and my lifestyle changes. I think about how I felt before I lost weight: depressed, hopeless, helpless and completely out of control. Everything is the opposite now of what it was. As a result of my weight loss, I am much happier, much more optimistic about my healthy future, and very much in control of my own life and my own behavior. It feels really good to be in total control of yourself, since I know how terrifying being out of control can feel. Healthy feels phenomenal.
Congratulations, Erika!
*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

Have you lost weight and kept it off using We'd love to share your story. Email us: sparkpeoplesuccess (at) gmail (dot) com.

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So very happy for you!! You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your story.
An inspiring story if ever there was pone! Report
Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your healthy snack ideas, that is so helpful! Report
Awesome! Great job!!! Report
Erika, I wish I could give you a hug! Your story was SO helpful to me. I'm much older, but one of my dreams is being able to run ...even at my age! Thanks for being such a great iinspiration! Report
Thank you for agreeing to SparkPeople sharing your story with us. Your description of your process of change is enlightening and helpful to me. Report
I'm inspired, thank you. :) Hope I can achieve what you have. Report
What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. I am three weeks into SparkPeople, and had a major setback last night. A lot of emotional eating for the first time, and the scale sure showed it this morning! I am back on track this morning after my slip up and am very happy I have stories like yours to read to keep me encouraged! I also have a great deal of weight to lose and know it will be a long journey. Report
Wonderful story! So inspiring! I share many of your sentiments as my co-workers this morning just complimented me on my new dress. It's the first "6" I've bought since my weight-loss journey began. I tried it on really because I wanted to see how close I was to having it fit so when it DID fit - and fit nicely - I bought it right away! Great job and thanks again for sharing your story! Report
Very inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story! Report
What an inspiring story. This story shows there is light at the end of the tunnel. Report
Thanks for sharing your story. It really is encouraging. Report
Wow! Keep up the good work! Report
Thanks for sharing, I am in a similar spot right now (lost my job) and have to quit consoling myself with food:) Your story is great encouragement! Report
Congratulations! I loved reading your story. You certainly have something to be proud of. Thank you for sharing and for the advice to never give up. Report
I am inspired. I lost my job also and the depressing is catching up with me Report
awesome -- thank you so much for sharing Report
What an inspiring story! Report
WTG !!! GREAT JOB!!! Report
Thank you for your awe inspiring blog! Awesome job to your mom too! I am so motivated and inspired. You look fabulous! :D Great job! :D


Nola Report
Thanks for sharing. I'm about the same size as you were so this is very inspiring. Report
Amazing transformation!! Report
I've got about 90 lbs to lose also. Reading your story has been inspirational...thank you!! Report
I love reading these success stories. It reminds me that I used to like running. Motivates me to want to get back on it.
Congratulations! This is very inspiring!!
I am very happy for you for turning things around like this!!
Congrats on your amazing transformation! I feel inspired after reading this, so thanks for sharing your story with all of us. And congrats to your mom too! Report
I am so proud of all your hard work, and effort. You didn't throw in the towel and you kept going! Awesome!! I am excited at what goals I can accomplish as long as I stay focused!! Report
Your story sounds like my life eating for comfort. You have inspired me get my act together. Thank you!!! Report
Loved reading this story. So inspiring and energizing. Makes me want to keep going!!! Thanks. :) Report
This is so motivating! Thank you :-) Report
You are awesome and so motivating! Congratulations and thank you! Report
Your transformation is amazing! I've just finished my first week of walk/jog 5K because of how much your story inspired me. Report
Wow! What a great story, I totally connected when you talked about the foods you used to eat, especially the Cheezits! I am so guilty of that one. I am so glad that you shared your story. Thank you! Report
thank you this gives me hope Report
You are such an inspiration! thank you so much for sharing! Report
Thank you for sharing your amazing transformation! Report
Thank you for sharing your inspirational story Report
Awesome awesome awesome! It's stories like these that ignite the hope within myself! Report
I could use some of your strength and motivation and I am so very happy for you! Report
Wow I love your story. Great inspiration. You look sooooo good. Blessings Report
Your story really spoke to me!! Very inspirational and real. Thanks for sharing!! Report
Awesome! Thanks for sharing your story! Report
Way to go! Can't wait to have my own story to inspire others just like yours. Report
Thank you for inspiring me! Report
so awesome ,,,good for you, you look so happy. very motivational Report
Congratulations! You're truly an inspiration. I have hopes of running a 5k as well and realize that it is going to take time and lots of hard work and dedication. Seeing your success story will continue to help motivate me.

I'm so very happy for your wonderful achievement! Report
What an awesome story - thanks for sharing and congrats!!! I need to lose 40 more lbs and your story is going to help keep me on track. :) Report
Congratulations! You look amazing. This gives me so much encouragement and hope.
Congratulations on all your accomplishments!!! You are an inspiration!!! Report