From Bedridden to Loving Life, 240 Pounds Lighter*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)  
Weight Lost: 240 pounds (and counting!)
Hometown: Fishers, IN
What was life like before your weight loss?
I have been heavy since childhood.   I became my largest in the early 2000s.    I ate for comfort and refuge from my life.  I had a very controlling mother and watched my father die of a heart attack.  Both were abusive and very heavy, but they sure watched everything I ate.   Then, behind my mother's back, my dad would take me out and challenge me to eating contests.  In my teens and 20s, my weight was kept under control mostly by bulimia.  I always sought comfort in food, and when I got married and things got rough at times, my eating would escalate. 
At my largest, it also was the saddest time of my life.  I lived in my bedroom and could no longer walk.  I became disabled by three herniated disks, two pinched nerve bundles, fibromyalgia, degenerative joint disease, and arthritis.  I had to stop and rest just trying to get around my house to get to the restroom or kitchen.  I also had to quit my job and could no longer fit behind the wheel of a car.  Days became very lonely, as I stayed home alone for years.  Several times, I became so depressed I called the crisis line.  

What was the main motivation behind your weight loss?
My best friend, Tina, was my biggest motivation to lose weight.  She had weight-loss surgery, which I didn't want to do, but she was out having a life again.  I wanted that too!  Then, I read a book called "YOU: On a Diet."  It taught me how to stay satisfied.  My other friend, Lori, pointed me to SparkPeople and I became an addict.  Every time I feel like eating, I log on.  Let's just say that some days while I'm home alone, I'm on A LOT!

Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey:
I attempted weight-loss surgery three times, and finally achieved a "YES" from the medical staff on the third try. At the mandatory pre-surgery meetings, all of the patients were complaining of being hungry after eating, wanting to eat emotionally, and binge.  I then realized it was stomach surgery, not brain surgery. No need to cut up my stomach; first I needed to get my head right.  So, I fired my doctors and got new ones who would prescribe a new approach.

I started with in-home physical therapy, where I learned that even little movements prepare you for bigger ones. Since I couldn't walk, I got an arm bike and used it faithfully.  I also created seated exercises. I weighed and measured everything. I rejoiced at every loss, no matter how big or small, and implemented a reward system. I eventually made it out of my wheelchair and up to a walker. Once on a walker, I trained for a year and then walked a 5K with it at the mall, where I could take breaks at each end.

The SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker helped me get a realistic view of what I was really eating and Coach Nicole inspired me to move. I started logging my arm bike miles on the Fitness Tracker, and I felt proud with each entry. 

There was so much to read and earn SparkPoints for, so I kept busy like a college student learning a new lifestyle. I blogged about everything once I saw there was hope.  I wanted others to have hope, too. I've gotten so much support from the people on SparkPeople.  Without them, I fear I would fail, yet again.  They are my cause and my support. Now, I travel, holding rallies to promote SparkPeople and help people see that it can be done, no matter what shape you're in, no matter your ability level, no matter your age… you CAN do something.

What is your typical exercise routine like?
Currently, I walk a few times a week and utilize my Fitbit as motivation to increase my distance.  I also still use my arm bike in addition to a recumbent bike, yoga, and isometric exercises.  My routine varies from day to day.  Some days I’m not able to do as much as I would like to because of chronic pain from my disability, but as I always say, "Something is better than nothing!"  I sit on a stability ball at times and just make figure eights or I "bed dance" using just my upper body. It all started with lifting shampoo bottles in bed as part of physical therapy, and I’ve come a long way since then!

In what ways have your eating habits changed?
I have a few "~Indyisms" that I live by. Here are two that give you an idea of how I approach eating now: "One slice of pizza always has less calories than two" and "If you got a flat tire, you wouldn’t run around the car in a frenzy popping the other three.  You would fix the one and get back on the road."  These two mantras significantly help me.  I now stop eating before excessive damage is done and can prevent a binge with these thoughts.

I also like to say: "Life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now."  "You don’t have to be thin to act thin."

What advice would you give to someone either just beginning or hitting a rough patch in their weight-loss journey?
Forgive yourself easily and treat yourself like you would a good friend or a child.  Track your food and exercise; it really helps more than anything you can imagine.  It helps you see that you are screwing up far less than you think you are and it also serves as a confessor.  Once you write it down and confess your food sin in your tracker, you are forgiven, so move on.

How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
I went from specialty catalogs to large size stores, and now to normal stores for clothing. I went down in both wheelchair and walker sizes.  I can use a seatbelt, wear a swimsuit, fit in a booth or theater seat, and go on a plane! I feel confident and like a fighter now. My husband and I have a much better relationship now, and this helped me become much happier.  Having much more support and less stress was very freeing, I could start discovering myself without as much fear. I also felt free to try new things, explore my emotions and express myself in a new way. I want to fight for every overweight person out there to have that second chance at life that SparkPeople gave me.  I now see myself in a whole new light and have hope again.  I’m no longer trapped in a room waiting to die. I’m happy to live!

Thanks for sharing your story, Beth.

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

Editor's Note: You can read all of Beth's SparkPeople blogs here, and she has also started a SparkTeam (Team ~Indygirl) to help others.

This was her before weight loss:

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LEANJEAN6 4/4/2018
Such an inspiration! Report
LEANJEAN6 2/19/2018
Yu are truly amazing! Report
What a truly inspiring story!!! Report
What an awesome and inspiring story. You are absolutely awesome! Report
What a delightful story to read- God bless you for all of your efforts and inspiration to all of the rest of us who are struggling with excess weight. Thank you! Report
I love the "indyisms". Wrote those down in my journal so i will not forget them. Thank you for the inspiration and the motivation and congratulations. You look amazing! Report
Thank you for being so wonderfully inspiring . What a fantastic story.. Report
Thank you for sharing your story. You truly are an inspiration! :) Report
Thank you for sharing your story. What an inspiration you are! Report
You are an inspiration, and today of all days I needed to read your story....thank you....God Bless!! Report
You are an amazing woman! Thanks so much for sharing your success story and proving to the world that obesity can be conquered! A true SPARK inspiration!! Report
Congratulations on such a good job.!!!! Love your story and you are a good inspiration!!! Report
Way to go Beth! You are so awesome and I am so happy for you and your "new" life. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Keep it up!! Report
You're an inspiration!! Thank you for sharing. Report
I've read your story more than once and every time it inspires me to be grateful for what I CAN do, not have a pity party over what isn't happening. Thank you for sharing. Report
thank you for the inspiration and to never give are awesome! Report
What a brave amazing woman!! She is a hero for sharing this. It will mean so much to others who believe their problem to be hopeless. Report
God bless you girl! You are awesome and you are beautiful! Report
You are an awesome inspiration! Report
You are truly amazing!! Congratulations on your success and willingness to pay it forward Report
Thank you for sharing your story! You are very inspiring. Report
Wow! Yours is the most awesome, motivating story of success I've read! Congratulations on becoming healthy and happy again! You are an inspiration! Report
I love your story. It is such motivation. Congratulations to you! I pray that you continue to have much success on maintaining your weight. And, yes, it starts with your mindset. Condition the brain, then fix the body. Report
YOU are AMAZING! You fill me with hope and determination! Report
You are so beautiful! I'm so happy for you. You deserve a life where you can go anywhere and do anything! You should absolutely be VERY VERY proud of yourself! Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you! Report
You are such an inspiration! You look awesome! Great job!!! Wishing you well in your continued success! :) Report
You are amazing! What an inspirational story!
Good for you for chosing to change your lifestyle and way of thinking rather than using surgery to change your weight. :) Report
How brilliant you are to ditch the surgery and go for the lifestyle change! I'm so happy for you and think you are amazing, beautiful and inspiring! Report
This part right here is what I needed to hear today. Congratulations and thank you, and best wishes for continued success!

What advice would you give to someone either just beginning or hitting a rough patch in their weight-loss journey?
Forgive yourself easily and treat yourself like you would a good friend or a child. Track your food and exercise; it really helps more than anything you can imagine. It helps you see that you are screwing up far less than you think you are and it also serves as a confessor. Once you write it down and confess your food sin in your tracker, you are forgiven, so move on. Report
Your story has given me inspiration to move forward! Thanks for sharing! Report
Congratulations on your success. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Wishing you continued success. Report
Congrats on your success! Touched home for me as I have much of the same medical issues. Your story gives me hope Report
amazing success story, inspiratonal🌟🌟
You are such an amazing woman and very inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing your story and journey with us. Report
What an amazing story and an equally amazing woman. Congrats on your will-power and y our achievements. Report
You are amazing Beth! If you can do it, everyone can!
Thank you for sharing Beth! I have bookmarked your story and I am sure that it will help get me through some challenging times when I want to give up! I look forward to building a Spark friendship with you and sharing this journey to health. Report
I am so happy for you and love how you use your success to help others who may feel hopeless! Report
I am impressed by your life journey! You are a true inspiration. Report
You look amazing! You did it and I am so happy for you. Thanks for the encouragement. I have about 120 pounds to lose and sometimes it seems hopeless. But you have proven that I can do it because you were strong and you did it. Report
Thank you for sharing your story! Report
Beth u r AWESOME & such an inspiration! I miss u! Report
Amazing. What an inspiration. Report
Beth, you are such an encouragement!!! I have a little over 200 pounds to lose and I am tired of being unhealthy....thank you for sharing your success, it has really encouraged me! I also have a son that is morbidly obese and I want to help him as well...I am thankful to people like you and to SparkPeople especially!! Report
Beth, I'm so impressed and inspired by your weight loss story. Thank you for sharing your message of hope. I, too, struggle with spine problems which has recently hindered my workout regimen. I like what you said that doing something is better than nothing, and also I liked your binge eating "popped tire" analogy. Thank you. Report
ABSOLUTELY inspiring! Report
i wish........ Report
i wish........ Report
Your story made me a little teary. Congratulations-what a huge accomplishment. Report
You are amazing and very much an inspiration to me. I believe anything is possible and you have proven that.... I want to do this for me and finding Sparkpeople will be the thing that helps me succeed reading stories like yours gets me revved up... Thank you Report
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