How Gail Lost 100 Pounds and Found Her Strength

By , SparkPeople Blogger
"I had to reach the bottom to come up again, but now that I'm on top, I'm grateful for this journey, for these lessons and for my strength to get here."

Every weight loss journey is unique, but almost all of them begin with an "a-ha" moment. Some might call it a rock bottom, an epiphany, a crossroads. For Gail, the turning point was a broken ankle.

Gail had been overweight for most of her life. Food was always a focus—she ate to celebrate, to banish boredom and to curb anxiety. In addition to the extra pounds, she carried around plenty of embarrassment and resentment. "I lived in a perpetual cycle of eating and then feeling guilty for eating, then feeling anxious that I ate and then eating some more," she says.

Like so many others struggling with their weight, Gail was angry at herself for not being strong enough to change her situation. Over the years, she tried every diet imaginable—from pills and shakes to pre-made meals and point systems—but the weight always came back.

And then, suddenly, her marriage of 21 years came to an end, and Gail found herself on her own for the first time in her life, with the additional responsibility of caring for two kids and running a household. More anxiety led to more food. Gail ate to try and diminish the sadness, the stress and the fear of being alone.

"I was anxious and depressed, going through the motions of life, eating my way to death."

Then came the night that changed everything. While out with some friends, Gail tripped off a curb and broke her ankle—a misstep that would send her into a downward spiral of physical and emotional turmoil. Weighing in at 297 pounds, Gail couldn't use crutches because she wasn't strong enough to hold herself up. She rented a scooter and needed assistance with everything from driving to getting up and down the steps of her home.

If there was a silver lining to those tough months of recovery, it was that they allowed Gail to slow down and reflect on her life, goals and dreams. "I knew I was unhappy," she recalls. "I had allowed my weight to handicap me. I chose not to participate in activities because I didn't have the confidence and feared I would get hurt or have a heart attack. I felt a sense of hopelessness and started to feel stuck."

"I describe it as feeling frozen because I wasn't sure what to do, even when I knew what I had to do."

At her lowest point, Gail got the nudge she needed during a visit with her out-of-town brother. During a family pool day, Gail's six-year-old niece swam up and told her she looked like Ursula from The Little Mermaid. "She wasn't being mean intentionally. She was just calling a spade a spade. I wallowed in self-pity for a few days and then realized that I had a choice: I could accept that I was overweight or stop making excuses and make an honest effort to lose the weight."

"I remember looking at my kids, thinking how I'd been overweight most of their lives. I wanted to be there for them long term, for them to be proud of me."

This time, Gail committed to a lifestyle change. She started educating herself, tracking her food and using exercise videos. After spending thousands of dollars on a string of failed fad diets and struggling to adhere to unrealistic food restrictions, she started eating what she wanted, but within her calorie range. "Over time, I learned how to make better choices, eventually substituting healthier options that helped me navigate to success," she says.
For breakfast after early-morning exercise, Gail usually eats four egg whites with cheese and onion and an apple. Lunch is usually a salad with protein or a sandwich on light bread. For snacks throughout the day, Gail grabs yogurt or veggies with hummus. Dinner varies, but is usually a protein with veggies. When she has the urge for something sweet, she indulges in Skinny Cow Caramel Truffles.

Gail has learned to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. Now, when she feels hungry emotionally, she makes a cup of hot tea with some sweetener and a drop of creamer. "It's an indulgence that's low in fat and calories, but allows me to sip slowly, get the sweetness I crave and think about why I felt the need to eat in the first place."

That doesn't mean every day is easy. Gail faces her share of challenges, particularly when she travels for business, attends social events or has a tough or stressful day. A self-described sugar addict, she still struggles to avoid her trigger foods and control her daily cravings. When temptation looms, she uses these strategies to stay focused:
  • Staying active. Gail squeezes exercise into her schedule as often as possible to stay on track and feel good.
  • Eating mindfully. Although she's not perfect, Gail tries to be mindful about what she puts into her body. "There are always healthier options, in every situation," she says.
  • Indulging once in awhile. Gail believes that to deny yourself is to set yourself up for failure. "If you want to have some ice cream, eat a lower-fat option or a much smaller portion, so you don't feel deprived," she suggests. "Depravity can lead to binging, and then the cycle continues. The key is to learn to indulge periodically."
  • Having faith in her ability. "Your mindset will make a huge difference throughout this process," says Gail. "Believe you can do this and you will."
"When you have weight to lose, whether it's 20 pounds or 100, the thought of going down that path can feel overwhelming."

For Gail, the biggest surprise in her weight-loss journey was that losing more than 100 pounds wasn't as difficult as she'd anticipated. "I ate what I wanted, exercised and never gave up on myself," she says. "I set small goals and rewarded myself along the way."

Aside from the weight loss, Gail's biggest accomplishment has been learning to care about herself. After so many years of putting the needs of others first, she's finally prioritizing her own wellness, which includes exercise and healthier food choices.

"Every day, I make a conscious effort to get to the gym, eat my proteins and stay away from my trigger foods," she says. "And every day, I remind myself how good I feel and how healthy I've become, so I'm less likely to reach for the cookie or sleep in and skip my spin class."

For those just starting their own journeys, Gail's advice is to start with a single decision. "Once that commitment is made, follow through by eating mindfully, tracking calories and moving every day, and you'll succeed."

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_CYNDY55_ 1/22/2020
Thanks Report
CECELW 1/12/2020
I love this blog! It is an awesome story Report
Thank you for telling your Great Inspirational story. Report
SNUZYQ2 1/3/2020
Well done Gail. Your story is very inspiring! Report
Lived your blog Gail. Congratulations on doing so well!!! Report
AWESOME blog! Report
NETTY129 6/11/2019
Beautiful story. You should be very proud of yourself!
WTG You are truly inspiring Report
Fantastic article! Enjoyed reading it again! Report
You are truly an inspiration to the rest of us who have so much weight to lose. Congratulations on your progress so far! Report
Congrats! Keeping the weight off is the problem most of us have after losing! You have done it for 5 years so I know there is hope for the rest of us! Thanks for sharing! Report
Great job, Gail. I am working to lose 100lbs myself. You look wonderful, and I'm so proud for you! Report
Beautiful Blog! Great Blog ConGrats on your success Report
Congratulations on your successful journey. Report
Awesome job, Gail! You are an inspiration to many people! Report
thanks Report
Great inspiration. Report
Way to go! You are a inspiration! You look great! Thank you for sharing your blog! Report
Its nice to read that you didn't starve and deprive yourself and srill succeeded in your goals. That has been my focus instead of catching the next fad diet wave. Thank you for sharing Report
I am a lot like the former you, Gail. I have been "dieting" for 47 years now, and have gained 110 lbs since my first "diet" at age 13. I've done everything from being on my own, weight watchers, medical shake programs and even gastric bypass. Every now and then I return to Spark People as I really enjoy the program. I'll continue to take it "a day at a time" and try to utilize the program daily. My only plus is that I exercise pretty frequently. If I had not I'd probably be up 220 lbs since my first diet! Thank you for the inspiration. Report
thanks for sharing Report
Thank you for your story. It really reminded me of myself at times. It made me feel like there was hope for me yet. Thank you Report
Thank you for sharing your story! It was so encouraging to me and reminded me that I don't have to make drastic changes all at once. Report
I'm not sure why there is a duplicate comment. Sorry. Report
I just read this inspiring artlcle again and found it helpful. You give me hope. Thank you. Congratulations on your success! Report
You look fantastic! I just saved your article on Pinterest as an inspiration. Report
Very inspiring & motivational thank you Report
So proud of you. Report
Inspiring success story. Good for you! Report
I am very happy for you! Report
Congratulations on you new healthier lifestyle! I know all the work & flub-ups that can happen! Been there done that just like I would say 99% of over weight people! You are certainly right about it your mind isn't in the positive attitude lane failure is surely to happen! Thank you so much for sharing! Report
So proud of you!!!!! Report
Congratulations! Your story is inspiring! By reading it, I have come to realize that if you can lose 100 pounds by following through with your commitment to track your food and exercise, then I can lose 30! Thanks for motivating me today! Report
Thank You for a great article. Report look fantastic Report
Great inspiration Report
Wow! What an inspiration you are! Report
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I'm so proud of you. You are such an inspiration!!! Report
Congratulations on your weight loss and your healthy lifestyle! Report
Thanks for your words and encouragement!! Report
Good for you! Report
You are an inspiration to me! Thank you for sharing! Report
You look good, stay focus and keep up the good work Report
This is fantastic. You are such an inspiration. Keep on Sparking. Report
Thank you for sharing your story. I started this week and your story is very motivating for me. Report
You are truly an inspiration for those of us that have 100 pounds to lose. Thank you for sharing your story! Report
very good articles Report
That is amazing Gail! I am so happy for you. I hope that one day I will be able to tell a similar story. Thanks for the inspiration. Report
Love this!!!!! I finally had My " A ha moment, and said, this is it!!!! I'm doing exactly what You did, thank Yoy!!! You are a true inspiration and now I know I will do this!!!! Thank You again for sharing! Report