How Losing 200 Pounds Helped Kathy Walk Again

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Losing 200 pounds is far from easy—but some would say that keeping it off is infinitely harder. With the help of SparkPeople, Kathy (KATHYJO56) has succeeded at both.
"My name is Kathy, and I'm a foodaholic," she begins in a recent SparkPeople blog post. For years, Kathy admits she used food as a crutch and a comfort. By July of 2006, she had reached her highest weight of 350 pounds, standing at five feet tall.
Kathy still recalls the looks and questions she got from people who didn’t understand how she could have let herself gain so much. How was it possible, they wondered, to let it get to that point?
"The answer is simple: I became addicted to junk food," she says. "I had things that I ate at certain times each day, like cheap peanut butter cookies, Reese's miniatures and ice cream by the gallon. I ate these things day in and day out, and told myself that I wasn't overeating. I was in a total state of denial."
In addition to her weight, Kathy faced the added challenge of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Together, both conditions severely limited her mobility. She was confined to a wheelchair, and worried that she was becoming a burden on her family. Kathy could no longer take care of basic self-care tasks, like bathing and getting dressed, without help.
"Everywhere I went, I would look to see if I was the fattest person there—and, of course, I was," she says. "I [finally] realized I was not going to live to do and see all of the things that I'd always looked forward to."
When Kathy voiced her concerns to her son, he suggested that she try SparkPeople. He helped her set up her page and join a few teams. "From that day on, it's been the ride of my life," she says.

Making a Change With the Power of Community

Kathy quickly became a positive fixture at SparkPeople, both offering and receiving support and motivation. In addition to the weight-loss help she was seeking, she also found something else that she hadn't expected: some very real and special friendships. "I wouldn't trade my experience here for anything," she says.

Kathy also drew inspiration and support from SparkPeople's founder, Chris Downie, both by talking with him and reading his book. "Through his story, I learned there were many ways of losing yourself and then finding your way back," she says.
One of the first steps in Kathy's weight-loss journey was to join a senior community center with four pools and a fully equipped gym, where she started out with water therapy. "At first, I couldn't even get into the pool by myself, let alone walk the length of the pool holding onto the rail," she says.
As she grew stronger and the pounds began to drop, Kathy started learning exercises in the gym. On the days when she couldn't make it there, she did as many moves at home as possible. She loves walking with her walker, and her speed has earned her the nickname "Hot Wheels" among her friends.
For those just starting out, Kathy emphasizes that there is always someone out there who can help. "Talk honestly to a person you trust, such as your doctor, and go from there," she recommends. "If you don't like your doctor's answers, go to another one. Let them know that you are committed."
It was that commitment that took Kathy from a wheelchair-bound, sedentary life to a fulfilled, mobile one. In total, she has lost 200 pounds, and has no intentions of looking back.

Kathy's Meal Plan

Today, Kathy still eats the same way she did when she started her journey, under the theory that "everything is okay, but everything in moderation." Her meals vary from day to day, but her staples include lots of fruits and veggies, more lean proteins, fewer "bad" carbs and eight glasses of water per day.
"I didn't know the difference between a good carb and a bad carb when I started, but by asking lots of questions and reading articles on SparkPeople, I have learned," she says. "My SparkFriends have been instrumental in teaching me about the rights and wrongs, and have encouraged me every step of the way."
Kathy feels that she'll always be a "foodaholic," but she's learned to control her compulsions—primarily by staying out of the kitchen aside from mealtimes. She still finds her gaze lingering on junk food at the grocery store, but has trained herself to make higher-quality choices, even for splurges.
"I know my trigger foods and rarely touch them," she says. "I pick and choose my treats, and don't eat them every day. I try to save them for special occasions, and I've learned that a little goes a long way. If I'm going to have ice cream, I'll eat a small portion of real ice cream. If I'm going to eat candy, it will be a one-ounce square of a decadent dark chocolate."
When eating at restaurants, Kathy carefully studies the menus and nutrition information before ordering. At the grocery store, she's learned to read package labels and avoids processed foods as much as possible.
One surprise that came with Kathy's new nutrition plan was that food tasted much better when she drank water as her beverage: "I can taste the actual flavors of the food instead of the coating that sugary drinks coat the tongue with."

Enjoying a New Lease on Life

Today, Kathy only uses a walker occasionally to help with MS-related balance issues. In fact, she's in the process of donating her wheelchair to the Veterans Association of America. Her blood pressure and sugar levels are both within healthy ranges. Kathy continues to exercise daily, and no longer considers herself physically challenged.
One important side benefit of her healthy new lifestyle is that Kathy's MS hasn't caused as much physical deterioration as it likely would have if she hadn't lost the weight.
"There is so much to life, and I want to experience all that I can," Kathy says. "I am vibrant and happy now. Most importantly, my family no longer has to worry about me."

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See more:


TSHAWGER 5/17/2021
Kathy, I love reading your story. You are a great inspiration. I would love to talk to you sometime on how you kept your motivation. Report
THINCPL2004 3/8/2021
Great inspiration Report
SNUZYQ2 9/20/2020
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Kathy! It really is very inspiring. Congratulations on your success! Report
RBARNES27 9/1/2020
What a great story! Congratulations on the weight loss and your increased mobility. I have a family member affected by MS and it is so hard to see the flair ups intervene in their daily lives, you are an inspiration so thank you for sharing! Report
DMEYER4 7/4/2020
congrats Report
your inspirational Report
Thanks for the inspiration! I started with over 200 pounds to lose and had MS too. The MS is in remission and I'm down 71 pounds, slowly. Mobility has been very difficult at times and now that I'm older strenght and energy are issues too. Please friend me and I will watch for you. Thanks! Report
You ROCK, Kathy. :) Report
Thanks for sharing your story! You are an inspiration! Report
Amazing! Congratulations! Report
Been there Report
Amazing weight loss, as someone else who both needs to lose weight and has just been diagnosed with MS I need all the inspiration I can get! x Report
Amazing story! You are an inspiration to me! Report
Great work... thanks for sharing! 👍🏻😃 Report
Very inspirational. Congrats on your successful journey. Report
Thank you for being an inspiration to us all. Report
Congratulations. You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your story Report
Very inspirational!!! You've done so well! Report
Gotta do the hard work Report
Kathy, I read your blog article today, and wish you continued good health and success. I too have been down a long road, I started at 535 and am -199.4 as of today. It has been a long read, several illnesses, retirement, and a failed marriage.
I am now calm, life in order, and stronger every day. I have a month ahead with a Physical therapist. I still need my chair when distance involved, using a walker in
my home. I can walk 100 ft. now, stand in one place 3 min. Sounds wimpy. Maybe I will do a blog on that. Again, you inspire me. Tina Report
Thank you for sharing your story! I have MS too and it's great to hear about someone with MS that took off a lot of weight! Report
Thank you for sharing your story :) Report
Congratulations and Thank you! Report
Congrats!! Report
WOW...thanks... Report
Amazing story! Report
I am so happy for you Kathy. I read your blog every day. It is not just about losing weight it is about keeping it off. If one is not making lifestyle changes as you go along, the weight will never stay off. Congrats to you for losing it and keeping it off. Report
I’m very happy for you that you were able to lose this amount of weight and keep it off. I lost 60 pounds on weight watchers in managed to gain it all back, so I’m starting over again. I was diagnosed with MS and it scared me. Eventually, they change the diagnosis to complicated migraines. In any case, I think it’s awesome what you’ve done and continue to do. Congratulations! Report
Kathy, your determination and commitment are truly amazing. I wish that my son-in-law, who is scooter bound with relapsing remitting MS would stick to proper food and exercise as you have learned to do. I keeps giving into being a victim of the disease. You are truly to be rewarded and commended. Thank you. Report
Awesome. Report
Such an amazing example of true determination. 100% inspirational!!!! Report
Very empowering story! Report
Great story - very inspiring Report
Inspiring! Report
Brava! You are amazing, simply and beautifully amazing! Report
You are amazing!!! Report
Love this article. It has touched on my heart strings. I have a best friend and a sister with MS. Thank you for sharing. Report
Thanks for sharing your story . I needed that today! Report
Great work taking control and learning new things. I had a hard time with the denial, too. I was eating and drinking everything in sight and trying to convince myself I wasn't doing too bad, others ate worse and didn't gain like I did, etc. But, until I really started logging and measuring everything... ~smh~ 128lbs down and the SparkPeople Community has changed my life, not even dealing with the weight loss. Report
I'm so glad that you shared your weight loss story! You have inspired others to take a chance on a healthier lifestyle! Report
Astounding!!! Report
Amazing! Good on Ya! Report
Congratulations on your weight lost and you're an inspiration to us all! Report
Great read and what an example to us all. Great work Kathy. Report
God bless you Kathy... very inspiring! Report
God bless you Kathy-- you are so inspiring! Thank you! Keep Sparkin' Report
What an inspiring story! Report
You are such a great inspiration Kathy! Report
You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story and continued blessings Report
Such an amazing story! Thank you for sharing! Report