Kimberly Dropped 100 Pounds and Took Control of Her Health by Making Small Changes *

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Name: Kimberly Pinney
Username: KIMBERLY0916
Amount of weight lost: 100 pounds
Hometown: Logan, OH
Occupation: Student
Age: 38
Kimberly Pinney transformed her life and her body by making one small healthy choice at a time until they turned into habits that helped her lose 100 pounds and take control of three serious medical conditions: bipolar disorder, IBS and fibromyalgia.

What was life like before your weight loss? As my weight increased, I became slower, sluggish, insecure, mentally instable and I had a lot of overall health issues. I became withdrawn and, at some point, I lost my personality; my identity. I lost interest in doing anything and wouldn't even have focus or motivation to do previously favorite activities.

What was your "light bulb moment" that made you get serious about losing the weight? I finally got sick of being sick and tired. I realized that no matter the long list of health diagnoses and medications, I wasn't going to get better or find solace or be saved by someone else; not even medical professionals.

Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey: I'd been on for quite a while just spinning for daily points, occasionally reading random nutrition articles, and mostly lurking on some SparkTeams. I started trying to walk a quarter mile a couple of times a week. Yes, sometimes I'd call mom for a ride home because I was out of breath and exhausted, even at such short distances. Of course, it became easier and ultimately some hills I once thought ridiculously impossible became my warm up for long walks.

I've always been a water drinker but I started paying attention to how much I was drinking per day and logging it and food consumption on the SparkPeople trackers. I cut down and then cut out energy drinks. I'd stopped drinking most all soda as a college freshman 20 years ago because during a checkup the doctor explained the chemistry of how my body processed all the soda I drank.

I slowly made healthier food swaps. For example, I started comparing nutrition panels while grocery shopping and figured out there was a turkey variety of bologna instead of the regular stuff I'd always bought. Well, at first I bought one of each kind "just in case," as in "just in case" the healthier version is really gross. Well, it wasn't that bad and I figured everything was an acquired taste so why not give the healthier stuff a shot. Soon after, I only bought the turkey variety, then switched to a lower sodium version, then instead of a slice as a snack every hour I cut down to a slice every few days. Eventually, I stopped buying it altogether because I had added other snacks.

Did you encounter any obstacles during your journey and, if so, how did you deal with them? Even before I got serious about starting this journey I was taken off some of my medications because they weren't working. Slowly, I weaned off most all of my medications (with some professional oversight) which was not easy by any means. I believe because I was so heavy and unhealthy that the medicines couldn't work as intended.

I wanted off the "med roulette" as I called it because there was never evidence a medication was going to work or not. I feel taking some meds to counteract side effects of another med just became an unnecessary uphill battle.

Because I was no longer depending on medications for mental stability, I worked harder and was more diligent about learning and practicing new approaches to thinking. I really must thank my DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) leader and my caseworker for helping keep me sane, literally and figuratively. Where once I could turn to isolation or food for comfort, I was able to verbally vent my frustrations about life events while learning to find and focus on positives.

What did you find most helpful to keep you motivated?  I continue to read SparkPeople articles about nutrition, I add random exercises here and there and I maintain Team chatter including leading a SparkTeam. I can add a habit a lot easier than I can restrict myself. I have learned I have little to no willpower so if I think about a particular food or get a craving for something I'm better off having a small portion of it.
That's really the main thing I motivate myself with, I think. Nothing is off limits, nothing is restricted, but I don't need to overindulge in anything and a small portion of something is a lot better than nothing. That goes for unhealthy and healthy foods and activities; there needs to be a balance.

My driving motto for the longest time was "be kind to yourself" which could mean anything from get out there and walk a mile because it'll help strengthen my lungs and my legs to take it easy because you don't feel well  to I don't need to stress myself out just because I ate a brownie bite.

Did you ever slip up or hit a plateau? If so, how did you overcome it? Since I don't consider anything off limits, I don't really consider any behavior to be a slip up. Life is a journey and this is a lifestyle change, not a graded test. So I guess you could say that's how I move past plateaus or weight gains--I know I can immediately choose a healthier action than I was doing. Things are reversible and all the small healthier actions will snowball into healthier results; into a healthier me.

What is your typical exercise routine like? First let's throw the word typical out of the question; I like to have fun. I enjoy dancing even if it's just a random song playing and I get up and dance like a maniac for a few minutes. And now, as a student again, I regularly walk a mile to and from housing and classes; I can actually walk it faster than a vehicle can drive the distance because of the construction on the main intersection. I really want to add some strength training to my "routine" because I think that having stronger muscles, in addition to my stretching exercises, will really help me feel better on a regular basis and help regulate my sleep.

How would you describe your typical diet now as compared to before your weight loss? With the help of nutrition articles I learned there are certain foods I can eat to help with my IBS-C and bipolar disorder. I can also choose to cut out a lot of sodium from most foods just by rinsing them. I started trying new foods, too, even stuff I maybe once tried and didn't like. I now eat a larger variety of foods. Of course, I used to only eat frozen/fried foods so having an avocado in the fridge or a tri-bean blend and brown rice in the pantry is radically different. I often say I've never been a "veggies and salad" girl and I don't plan on being one even on this weight-loss journey. I am proof that it's possible to just eat healthier without being a health fanatic or even a veggie lover and still lose weight and gain strength and confidence.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning a weight-loss program? Let go of what people say you should do or eat and find what works for you. I tend to think as soon as I set a specific target goal that I'm setting myself up for failure. It's all psychological really, but like with most things, one must do what works for them. I've had great success with just seeing how far I can get (or lose) by doing something healthier; a healthier food or activity than I've previously chosen.

Did you experience any other benefits in addition to losing weight?  I am able to get out from behind the keyboard and be social and travel. My self-confidence has grown considerably. Instead of being a quiet bookworm, I have become the life of the party. I would rather look goofy and make new friends than quietly melt into the wallpaper. My high school friends didn't recognize me at our 20-year reunion because I certainly was more outgoing than I ever was back then.

I feel healthier and have more energy than ever before and I don't get sick nearly as often. I fight off small illnesses quicker than ever and I heal faster (bruises, cuts, scrapes, etc.), too.

I have far fewer regular doctor visits and required medications. I still have a few issues to deal with like IBS-C, fibromyalgia and bipolar 1 disorder but I feel better equipped to tackle issues with physical movement and nutrition rather than a pill. With my fibromyalgia, that was only diagnosed at my heaviest but I've probably had it for 20+ years. I've figured out that if I maintain healthy nutrition and stretch often and "keep the blood flowing" that I hurt a LOT LESS and I don't rely on muscle relaxers or pain pills to get thru the day.

How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health? In 2013, I not only walked my first 5K (Electric Run) but I also kayaked for the first time (at Bioluminescent Bay in Fajardo, Puerto Rico). I am able to go on vacation and not worry about how much walking is needed. I also don't feel guilty if I indulge in some dessert or decadent dish.

I am able to attend concerts again and can dance for hours instead of just watching from a corner table as I'd done in the past. I am more mentally, physically emotionally, and financially stable than ever before.

I weigh about the same or less than I did in high school! (This one still amazes me.)
I feel more confident, not just with my looks or buying clothes (size 8, after once being a size 28) but with new circumstances and situations.
What a wonderful example of how small changes can make big differences!

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

* 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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ALABAMASUSAN17 2/27/2018
I'm very glad that Kimberly has had success with her illnesses, but weight loss does NOT cure BiPolar Disorder or Fibromyalgia! Very misleading! Report
JANET552 11/13/2017
Thank you for sharing your story!! Report
Congrats!!! Report
Congratulations, Kimberly! Report
Your story is truly amazing! I also have bipolar and right now can only dream of getting off the medications. But maybe dreaming is the first step! One thing you said that made a lot of sense to me was: "I slowly made healthier food swaps." I liked your step by step explanation of how you gradually made your diet much healthier. Congratulations to you on your wonderful achievement and thank you for sharing! Report
Hello. I found your story to be truly amazing! I also have bipolar and right now I can only dream of getting off the medications. But maybe dreaming is the first step! One part of your story that made a lot of sense to me was: "I slowly made healthier food swaps." And I liked your explanation of how you accomplished a much healthier diet step by step. Thank you for sharing your story. Report
So many of your words resonate with me. I'll be thinking about your story for a long time to come and using several quotes to help me on my way.

Congratulations! Report
You are indeed an inspiration! Thank you for your courage and your willingness to share your journey with the rest of us! Report
Kimberly, you are an true inspiration and love your outlook and life attitude! I am at a plateau and was feeling very frustrated, but now I know that I will get through this challenge by using your pointers and just keeping going! Congratulations on your journey to a healthier life! Report
Congratulations for finding your path. I like the concept of the journey, so no mistakes can be made. Thank you. Very inspirational. Report
This is a very motivated and motivating woman. Thank you for sharing your story. Report
Congratulations on a big achievement- your story is inspirational! Report
Congratulations Kim. Ditto to what everyone else said! You are a real inspiration!
What a great story, a bit different than most of the blogs here but really puts a light on previously unmentioned health issues. Report
What an inspiring story. Thank you for sharing. And congratulations! Report
Well done, Kimberly! Report
You are an inspiration! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I got quite a few "take aways" from it. Report
I very much enjoyed this article on your weight loss journey. I feel like I am at the beginning of my journey - with what seems like endless false starts. thank you for sharing. It is much appreciated. Report
" Life is a journey and this is a lifestyle change, not a graded test." - My new quote! Congratulations and thanks for the inspiration! Report
So happy for the healthier and more confident you! I agree with you that thousands of little good choices lead to big good end results. Best wishes. Report
You are such a motivation to me! Thanks so much for sharing your story. Report
Thank you for sharing your incredible story. You have such determination. Very inspiring. Report
Great story and inspiring. I want to lost 25 lbs. by end of August and your story tells me I Can Do This. Congratulations! Report
Very inspiring!! Report
You are such an inspiration! I reposted this on facebook, I pray someone will read this and be inspired. Report
I love the positive attitude regarding your journey! "Life is a journey and this is a lifestyle change, not a graded test." - Love it, and totally will be mentioning this phrase at my TOPS meeting tonight! :0) Report
you are truly an inspiration. thank you for shareing Report
Thank you for sharing your story. I pray that I will someday be a success story to inspire someone else to just make a start. Thank you so much. Miss Fluffy Report
Great post you have made awesome changes in your entire life, something I am trying to do. Thanks for the motivation 🌉🌉🌉

You are such an inspiration! Report
Kimberley, you look awesome and you probably feel even better. Thanks for the honest answers you gave. Your story is inspiring to me! Report
I too suffer from multiple illnesses, including bipolar disorder. I kind of always knew that becoming healthier would help, but I wasn't a true believer. You are proof that a pill does not have to be your only way out, and I thank you helping me realize that. Report
So proud of you and for you! I just started my journey again here. You give me inspiration. Thank You!!!! Report
You go girl!! Just started (or re-started) my journey about 3 weeks ago, makes me look forward to what the future WILL bring, opposed to "might" bring... I love how your message conveyed to pretty much embrace your own journey, and not what others will try to tell you... thanks for sharing!! Report
i love the way you said you don't notice plateaus, because it is now a lifestyle journey.
Also that nothing is off limits--a bite of a brownie is fine.
I found that one gumdrop a day helps me with the taste I crave and I don't need to eat a handful and get a stomach ache.
The last thing that came out at me that you wrote is don't go by what people say you should do, but do what works for yourself. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful journey of yours. Report
Congratulations on your success. I like the way you just intertwined the new healthy into your life. Report
Thank you for sharing! What a wonderful inspiration! Report
Thank you for sharing your story...I've been inspired! :) Report
Great Story! You are an inspiration! Report
Congratulations and I loved reading about your journey! Report
Thanks for sharing! It's really amazing to realize that the little things really do add up (like walking the extra 10 minutes from class -- or anywhere -- rather than catching a ride) and can make a difference in the end! Report
You look amazing! Your story sounds so similar to what I am going through health wise. I hope to one day break free and be able to say I did it. Thanks for the encouragement and I wish you continued joy and health.
Way to go Kimberly! I have Neuropathy, Plantar Fasciitis, Tennis Elbow & a pinched nerve. I am currently in physical therapy so I can defenitely relate to having multiple health issues. You r my inspiration! Report
Thank you for your honesty and congratulations on your success! Report
awesome story I am eating healthy my self and counting calories and exerciseing 5 days a week walking 2 miles a day I have health issues to wtg on your weight loss awesome job gbu Report
Congratulations...I really needed some inspiration today! You are amazing! Report
Kimberly your story really resonates with me. I am in the same situation you started out with. You will be my hero and my inspiration. Report
Wonderful! And congratulations on your success! I love your explanation of the plateau and this being a journey. We all make mistakes, but every one is a learning moment.... or a time when we just accept that we will indulge, rest up, etc. Thanks for sharing your story! Report
I wanted to cry when I read your story...I too am on a lot of medications and I am sick of it. I am a mom of 3 young kids and it hurts me that I get so winded when trying to play tag or other games that I avoid trying to go outside with them. I signed up this morning because I am ready for this change...I need this change for my health and my family. Thank for you for sharing your are my inspiration!!!! Report
Thank you for sharing your story. Report
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