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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Congrats!! I'm very happy for you! I have lost 47 lbs since Dec 2011 and my goal is to lose another 47 lbs by July of next year. I tell my friends and family that I am not on a diet... I am learning to eat healthier and learning to take care of ME!! Report
Great job!

my tip: never give up trying to change your habits Report
I think what you've done is phenominal .... and you are an inspiration to everyone who reads this. Best wishes for maintaining it. Report
Way to go! You are an inspiration! Walking and Curves circuit trining work best for me. Thanks for sharing. Report
Succeeding alway starts with believing Report
Way to Go! :) Report
You are such an inspiration! Report
This post is very encouraging and uplifting. Congratulations on your dedication and determination. Report
Way to go! In today's fast paced mindset, it's hard to remember that a healthy lifestyle takes time to master. Great job making this your life, not just some quick fix! Report
OMG I loved your blog!! I too began exercising because of diabetes - it was when I saw 34 years old (wow, that was 30 years ago!) and my mother lost a leg as a side effect of her diabetes. I determined then that I might not be able to escape diabetes (though from more recent research I believe I CAN!) but I could make sure I wouldn't lose a limb to it if I kept my circulation healthy with exercise. Don't you know how happy its making our parents that we learned from their disease? Blessings!! Report
Congratulations on your weight loss and adapting a healthy and fit life style.
I used to be a gym rat, couldn't get enough of the classes and equipment. But I have started walking, power walking and some jogging and I am having a hard time getting back into the gym. Especially in the nice weather, love being outside in the fresh air and the natural environment. I walk .jog 2 to 3 miles daily. Report
Wonderful inspiration, both in your weight loss and maintenance! Report
Truely inspiring... AWESOME job! Report
Great job very inspiring!
You look amazing!! Great job!! Report
I too began with a pedometer and walking! Gradually increased until 8-10,000 is now my minimum, and one day a week I try to do a LONG walk of 7-8 miles with a friend. Congratulations on maintaining for seven years, that is fantastic! Woo hoo! Report
Congratulations on finding what works for you, and doing it! Report
How wonderful to maintain for seven years, since only 5% keep the weight from coming back again. Congrats. Report
Ellen what a great inspiriation your are!! I am finding the high impact exercises don't make me feel that great afterwards, so I am going to stick to walking and some weights myself. Yoga too! Report
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