'I Started This for My Kids, But I'm Finishing It for Me''*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Holly Petras (HOLLYS_NEW_LIFE)
Weight Lost: 140 pounds
Hometown: Fairview, PA
Occupation: Patient Advocate
What was life like before your weight loss?
Other than my kindergarten picture, every picture I have of myself is of a chubby child, a fat teenager or an obese adult.  As a kid, I used to play soccer, swim and dance, and I was always the biggest one.  When I got to college, I gained even more weight with late night pizza and beer.  Right out of college, I got married to a man who loved me so much, he thought catering to my every desire would make me happy.  All it did was make me lazy and fatter.  This was in no way his fault, but it wasn't helpful either.  When I got pregnant with my kids, it was just another excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I craved French fries with my son and pizza with my daughter, and ate them most nights.  I didn't know it at the time, but when I look back on things now, I was miserable.  I didn't do anything with my kids or our friends.  I stayed inside on the couch while my husband took the kids out to play.  I hated doing anything that made me sweat, and at that size, everything made me sweat.  I couldn't get on amusement park rides, I hated walking around the zoo, and I didn't want to leave the house.  Physically, my back and feet hurt all the time. My asthma was out of control, and I never went to the doctor.  I didn't want to be told I had high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and diabetes.  I especially didn't want to be told to lose weight.  I am 5 feet tall and at my highest weight, my waist was 59 inches around.  I was as wide as I was tall; it's not a surprise that I was miserable.
What was your ‘light bulb moment’ that made you get serious about losing the weight?
At the end of May 2010, I was volunteering in my son's class for his birthday.  We were lining up to go outside and he introduced me to one of his friends.  His friend looked at me, then looked at my son and said "your mom's fat."  My son said nothing.  What could he say?  The little boy was right.  It took everything I had not to break down and cry.  The look on my son's face broke my heart.  I knew right then, I HAD to change for my kids and for myself.  I was NOT going to be "the fat mom." My children have been my biggest motivation since day one.  I was going to get healthy for them because I didn't want them to grow up to be like me.  I wasn't any kind of role model for them.  That weekend, I Googled "counting calories" and that's how I found SparkPeople.  That's when I began the journey that saved my life.  Now as my journey is beginning its fourth year, I can say that getting to goal is a HUGE motivator for me.  I started this for my kids, but I'm finishing it for me.
Tell us a bit about your weight loss journey: 
I started this journey by watching portion sizes; I didn't really change what I ate.  I also began walking around the block, maybe five minutes at a time.  In the beginning, there were foods I couldn't have in the house, and I still struggle with them now, (pizza being the worst).  Little by little, my exercise increased, but I was still mostly walking.  After a while, I became more confident with what I was doing and knew that I was going to make it this time.  About six months into my journey, my food choices had improved and I was eating a LOT more fruits and veggies.  I was able to exercise more, and I decided I was going to walk my first 5k, the farthest I've ever gone.  Over the last three years, I've adopted a pretty healthy way of eating and I exercise regularly.  I've gotten my kids involved with grocery shopping and the whole family has done a few 5k races together.  Over all, my journey has been a total roller coaster ride.  There have been extreme highs, like making it to less than 200 pounds (“ONEderland”), and actually running my first 5k; but there have also been some very difficult times as well. I wasn't prepared for the emotional aspects of weight loss.  There is so much more to it than eating right and exercising for 30 minutes a day.  It's difficult to explain, but there were a lot of stages I've gone through emotionally, and I'm sure there are more to come.

SparkPeople has played a HUGE role in my weight loss.  I've lost weight 20 different times, but I've never been given the tools to turn it into a lifestyle.  I immediately started using the trackers for nutrition and exercise, and I gained a lot of knowledge from reading articles on fitness and nutrition. I also use the SparkPeople app for my phone, which so easy!  When I'm out of town, I can still track my exercise.  Or, if plans get changed and we go out to dinner, I can just plug in my food right at the table. But being a part of the online community is what SparkPeople is all about.  From the teams and challenges, to posting on message boards, this site has been instrumental in my weight loss.  In fact, I know I wouldn't have gotten this far without it.
What is your typical exercise routine like?
Currently, I’m working out six to seven days a week, no less than 30 minutes each day.  I have a calendar that I schedule different workouts, because when I don’t, I’m less likely to do anything.  This is something else I’ve learned over the years.  I’ve been running three miles per day three days a week, and on the other days, I’ll do a 30 minute kickboxing video, intervals on my treadmill, or take a long walk or bike ride with my family.  I also try to do strength training at least two days a week. 
Do you have a personal mantra, inspirational quote or saying that you live by that you’d like to share?
“When you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”
I ran across this quote very early on in my journey, and I believe it to be absolutely true.  I knew that in order to change my life, I had to do things that I’ve never done like working out and eating right.  This quote STILL gets me through difficult parts of my journey.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight loss program?
The best piece of advice I can give is DON’T GIVE UP! I never thought I would ever make it this far. Stay involved with the SparkPeople community, because even when you think things are never going to work, there is ALWAYS someone who completely understands what you’re going through.  You are NOT alone in this.
How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?
My life has improved dramatically since I've lost weight. I used to take four medications daily to try to keep my asthma under control.  Now I take two and it's been under control for two years.  My doctors are very happy with my weight loss and exercise program. I have done so many things I never thought I'd ever do.  I've run 5k races, climbed over rocks, and fit into amusement park rides.  My relationship with my family is better because I'm not miserable all the time.  Most importantly, though, my kids are happy and healthy because of the changes I've made.
Awesome job, Holly!

*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 SparkPeople.com? We'd love to share your story. Email us: sparkpeoplesuccess (at) gmail (dot) com

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What a great quote! I am going to adopt that one... Report
WTG! So happy you're living the life you have always deserved :) Report
I had the same look from a child. The little boy looked at me and his eyes said everything. I felt like dirt. I never want to feel that way. Now thanks to being on my healthy life style change I am feeling healthy,beautiful and good about myself. My kids are very proud of me. I want to show them that we can be anything we want to be. We just have to work hrad and we will get there. thank you for sharing your story very simular to mine. We are not alone. Report
Very inspirational and motivational story. I just wish I would of started my fitness journey sooner. My son is now 17 and my daughter is 13. So they both had to deal with the "fat mom" comments. I will make them proud by losing the weight I need to to be around for their up and coming achievements and milestones in their lives. Report
Thanks for sharing your story. You look so vibrant, healthy and self-assured in your photo. Plus, super-cute dress!! Report
Thank you soooo much for posting this! Your life seems to mirror mine....and I know I WILL do it too!! Report
Thank you for your article, it was very inspiring. I am very tired of being the "fat mom" myself and intend to follow in your footsteps. :) Report
You are an inspiration to us all, Holly. You radiate with confidence--and since I now see it's possible, I look forward to having the same confidence. Report
Looking great Holly! Report
I'm so proud to have you as my friend on Sparkpeople! What an excellent job you have done changing your life!! Way to go friend! Report
Just awesome!
Way to go Holly! :) Report
Way to go, Holly!!!

Thanks for sharing your story with us! Very inspiring.
nice work Holly.......I hear ya about the emotional side of weight loss. I have not only lost weight I have also lost a lot of tears through this journey. Good luck in this...Remember to get the butt you want you have to get off the one you have...! Report
So encouraging! Thank you Holly for sharing this inspiration!
Awesome! You are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing. Report
Thank you! I needed to hear your story. Report
I joined spark people three years ago and lost 52 pounds. i went through a very stressful time in my life, got engaged, moved away from my family and friends. I felt very alone and stopped using spark, and slowly went back to my old habits. In about a years time i have gained 30 pounds back. I know now that i need the community on spark people and the tools ever more when things get stressful. I'm back on a new path with more knowledge then my first journey and I will not be leaving spark people this time. Report
I am fairly new to spark people. Thanks for sharing your story.
It will help keep me motivated. Report
awesome!! Report
You so amazing. You make me feel like working harder than I am already. Thanks. Report
great job holly,u look amazing :) Report
I am 5 foot tall and one have inch . I hover at 135- 140 I have no waist and I hate the tight feeling on my waist. Since my heart surgery I have wanted to get 10 pounds lighter. It does not seem like much but when you are short every pound shows. You are an inspiration for me.
Kathryn Report
Very Inspiring, thank you for sharing. Report
Very helpful and encouraging. I especially like the quote, "If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done." Thank you for sharing. Report
Your story is so inspiring! Thanks! For 20 years, I have been the "fat, single mom" so I over compensated so I could be the "cool, single mom" instead, hoping no one would notice that I am fat too. My daughter is an amazing young woman, an athlete, and so very loving and supportive of me no matter what size I am. So I want to now be the healthy, fit person I should be. I want to become a "hot mama"! Report
Very inspiring :D
To share and read your story brings hope.
I've struggled as well and I am now on the road to a healthier me,
slowly but surely. Report
Wow...congrats...what a beautiful testimony! Report
Wow...congrats...what a beautiful testimony! Report
Wow- what an awesome accomplishment you have achieved! Your story was very inspiring to me; keep up the great work!!! Report
Great story and inspiration. Thank you for sharing. Report
Thanks for sharing your story. You look (and i'm sure feel) great! I also like Sparkpeople.com to help and keep me on track and motivated. Report
You look fantastic! I don't want to be "the fat mom" anymore either! Thanks for sharing your story! Report
What an inspiration, just what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing you story. Report
I loved your story! Thanks for sharing and for giving me a good kick in the butt. Report
You are amazing! You know I love you, right???
xo Report
Being fat is lonely! It was inspiring to read your story and feel a connection to someone. Thsnk you! Report
My favorite SP inspirational stories are the ones where the Sparker's example turns the rest of the family on to healthy eating and exercise--it's like paying it forward. Congratulations. Report
My favorite SP inspirational stories are the ones where the Sparker's example turns the rest of the family on to healthy eating and exercise--it's like paying it forward. Congratulations. Report
Holly - you're my bestest. I'm so extremely proud of you. You worked so hard to get to where you are and continue to work to be healthier every day. I can't thank you enough for pushing me to do this because I wouldn't have ever had the motivation to keep trying. You have inspired so many people as you go. Now, your story will undoubtedly inspire many, many more. I love you!!!! Report
Holy cow! I thought I was reading about me! 5 foot nothing and 100+ pounds to loose, "I hated doing anything that made me sweat, and at that size, everything made me sweat." Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for telling your story...this may just be the push that I need right now to get out of this funk that I'm in!!! Report
Congrats Holly!! This is so well deserved, and you should be so proud of yourself. You are an incredible role model for us!! What hard work and sacrifice!!! Report
Wonderful to read! Congratulations on sticking with it and all the hard work it entails! You did it! You're an inspiration to me and many others! Thank you! Report
Wow! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. It sounds like a long tough journey, but im really happy for you. It encourages the rest of us. Report
Congratulations!! Well done! Thank you so much for your story. I too have lost some weight over and over. I have been overweight for so long that I don't really believe I can look any different. My mind keeps saying it can't be done. I am working on getting back on track, but in the back of my mind I keep thinking, "Is it true? Will it really work? Will my body really change for the better?" I am the same height as you and probably just about the same as your starting weight. Looking at your 'before' picture you could just photoshop my head onto the picture and I could be looking at me. It's great to see the transformation you have achieved - it makes me believe that perhaps I CAN do it too! Thank you! Report
How exciting to see you on my home screen tonight! I'm SOOOO proud of you! You are an inspiration and you're still doing great even when you think you aren't. GREAT job my friend! Report
Well done, Holly! Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story! Report
Holly! I was so excited to sign on this evening and see this flashing on my screen!! I am so happy for you and all your accomplishments, you are truly an inspiration! (((Hugs))) Report
WOW! Your transformation is nothing short of miraculous! I'm so happy for you, your kids, and eveyone who comes in contact with the new, confident and fun YOU! Report
OMG Holly you just spoke right to me! Starting with both our names being Holly! I love your story and I can't wait to tell mine... I am doing this for my kids too!!! I promised my oldest that next summer will be blast because I will be healthier and able to do more! My hubby got onto me last night that he has started to notice my weight gain and it hurt but its true!!!! Thanks a ton! Report
Your story is inspiring! Thank you for sharing your journey with everyone. Congratulations!! Report
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