I Lost 105 Pounds!*

By , By Woman's Day Staff
Before (1998): 235 lbs

After (2012): 130 lbs

One small purchase changed Ellen Brenneman's life. The 42-year-old painter from South Bend, IN, shares her secrets to amazing weight loss.

My weight issues began in college—I had a difficult time adjusting to the lifestyle and pressures. I started overeating as a way to deal with my insecurities and the stress of fitting in with other students. I soothed my emotions with food and mindlessly snacked late at night. By the time I graduated, I was officially overweight, and the number on the scale went up from there as I started my life in the real world.

Turning Point

My father was heavy and died in 1998 from diabetes complications. At the funeral, people who hadn't seen me in years looked stunned at how big I was. Then it hit me: At 5'2" and 235 pounds, I was larger than I realized. I became afraid that I would develop diabetes and die young if I didn't make some lifestyle changes soon.

My Crucial Tool

A month after my dad's death, I made a $12 impulse buy: a pedometer. I'd read that you should do 10,000 steps a day to maintain a healthy weight, so I made it my mission to reach that goal. A few months after I began walking, I started eating more fruits, veggies and whole grains and limited my sweets to only one or two small treats a week.

Success! By 2005, I reached a healthy weight of 130 pounds. Instead of setting out to lose a certain amount by a certain time, I adopted healthier habits slowly, which made them feel more like second nature.

Keeping It Off

In September 2010, I started a blog to meet other health-minded people and keep myself accountable.

I've maintained my weight over the past seven years with regular exercise and a diet full of veggie burgers, Greek yogurt, fruit, tofu, hummus, chicken, high-fiber cereal, whole-wheat pasta, couscous and almond milk. Today I feel strong and confident—two words I never thought I would use to describe myself. Above all else, I'm proud that I'm healthy and no longer at high risk of developing diabetes like my father.

My stick-with-it secret: Push beyond your comfort zone with exercise.

The more traditional forms of fitness, like running and going to the gym, didn't appeal to me, so I made a point of trying new things. I learned how to kayak and ride a bicycle for the first time at 41! If you make exercise fun, you'll look forward to it.

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What is your best tip or “stick-with-it secret" for your weight loss and/or health journey?
*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program. 

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Way to go Ellen! Report
Well done ! Way to go ! Report
I find that slow and steady definitely works for me. I'm making my new habits into things that are second nature. Report
Wow! This is encouraging. I'm getting a pedometer! Report
Amazing dedication. My next purchase = pedometer. Congrats on the achievement of keeping the weight off and maintaining healthy life choices.
Awesome blog! I too bought a pedometer and hope to get/stay healthy too :] Report
So glad I read this blog. Good inspiration! Report
WOOHOO! Report
Wow! Way to go! Report
Congratulations! Wonderful story! Report
Thank you for your story, it really has inspired me Report
Very Inspiring! Report
Thanks for sharing your story - and CONGRATULATIONS. A big step to lose 100 pounds, but probably a giant step to maintain it for so many years. What an inspiration!! Report
What a wonderful story and so motivating for others. Report
Wow you look great.. very inspiring :) Report
WOW. GREAT...... Report
Sometimes the motivator cannot only be number on the scale. We should start at some point and move forward to achieve it... Inspiring one. Report
Congratulations to you. You are proof positive that lifestyle changes work! Thanks for sharing your motivational story! Report
This WILL be me! Report
Very motivating! : ) Report
I love this! You've encouraged someone who has declined in motivation recently. Report
Great blog about doing what works in a sane way. Good for you. Thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks for the article! I am almost 60 days into my weight loss journey. My goal is to be healthier for one but also to lose 50 pounds, Iíve lost 10 sitar. Thanks for the great ideas, I am going to put them to use!

howtolose20poundsinaweek.org Report
I am so impressed with you!! Report
WOW I want to congratulation you.
You are AWESOME !
Congrats on your life change!
Yes, slow and steady wins
in the weight/health game.
I absolutely agree with the effectiveness & simplicity of walking...After almost completely becoming immobile,after knee surgery I discovered the joy, solitude & cardio benefit of walking. You pointed out that you don't need a gym membership to lose weight & live a healthy lifestyle...I am maintaining too, & can't wait until I am at the 7 year maintenance level....My best investment was a little gadget called a fitbit that tracks all your activity levels from most movements to sleep etc. It is fantastic & has me challenging myself daily to outwalk my last stroll...My record so far has been over 27,000 steps in a day....I regularly walk 15 miles a week, lovin it with my tunes....
Your connection to others also is a double blessing...it shares your success as well as keeps you accountable....that's what I find....

You said everything I feel...I couldn't have said it better!!! Report
What a great inspiration, thank you so much! I need to get back into walking because I remember how much I enjoyed it. Nothing better than getting out in nature and stretching your legs... Report
Thanks for sharing...I too see the value in walking...Thanks for inspiring me to use the pedometer I already have. Report
Awesome story. Thanks for sharing. Report
Great blog! Report
You asked what my 'stick to it' tip was and I would have to say it is to give thanks to the Lord above each and every morning for being given the chance to really live. When we have Hope, we have Everything. Report
Inspiring. The fact that you took your time and changed your life not just to lose weight but to become a healthy, strong person is the most inspiring thing of all. Report
What an inspiring story! It's awesome to have lost 105 lbs and to have maintained that weight loss for 7 years! Well done! Report
Your blog is a motivator that I can take off my extra 100 pounds by just continuing healthy habits. It won't be an overnight change but if I continue I WILL change.
Thank you. Report
Your blog was excellent because it shows it does not have to be "fancy" to lose weight. Just doing the right things to change your life works. A pedometer is a very inexpensive item. Awesome! Report
That is grrrreat and so inspiring! Thank you for sharing! You look fantastic! Way to go! Report
Very Positive Thanks for sharing! Report
Awsome!!! Congratulations!!! I really enjoy reading your story. Report
Very inspiring. Put a link to your blog in here.. Report
Great story! I agree that changes toward a healthier lifestyle are the best way to go; the weight will come off gradually but FINALLY if you do so! Great work! Report
Congrats!!!! you look great Report
What a wonderful blog thanks for sharing Report
A pedometer has helped me a great deal too. Thank you showing us that a person can take it off and keep it off! Report
That's so great and keeping it off all these years is even greater. But when the healthy lifestyle becomes habit what do we have to fear. I thinks thats a big concern for so many of us. Maintenance!! Congratulations, you look great, just great!!! Maggie Report
Great job! Report
How very inspirational you are - not just for losing weight but for also maintaining that loss for a period of 7 years. There was a great blog on SP about being a "maintainer" and you should read that and feel proud of yourself even more. Good for you and thank you for sharing... Report
I, too, am a great believer in the power of that little, inexpensive pedometer. Thanks for posting a great story demonstrating the power of incremental changes over time. Report
What I love is that the pedometer was the starting point. Once we start doing SOMETHING, the next step will appear.
Congrats on dramatically improving your health, and thanks for sharing your SUCCESS! Report
Congrats! You look great! Report
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