My Goal: To Do Better

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Beth Donovan aka ~Indygirl

It has been a long journey from 460 pounds to 316 (check out my before-and-after pictures above), but one that's well worth it. It has taken me since January 2005 to lose that much weight. I was a member of under a different user name when I started. When I got super serious, I became ~Indygirl.

When I first started my journey, I felt truly hopeless. I had tried everything before. I had tried five diet clinics (a few of those more than once), gym memberships, prescription diet pills, books, tapes, videos, supplements, and fad diets. Nothing ever lasted, and I always gained back more weight than I lost. I was convinced that my metabolism was broken and that the only way to lose weight was to torture myself and starve through yet another diet. Reasoning, however, told me that it was only a matter of time before that diet would fail and I would be fatter than I was before.

There is a heartbreak that comes with gaining weight back. It is hard to suffer it alone, but the world, your family and friends also watch you do it. That was an unbearable pain for me. Every time I would fail, I not only failed myself and suffered my own admonishment and disappointment, but I also suffered the looks and comments of those around me. The wondered “Why did I do that to myself? Why would I regain the weight?” Well, it wasn’t as if I set out to do it, it slowly happened because I couldn’t keep up with the diet.

I’ve now successfully kept 100 pounds off for two years and have even lost more. How, though? I was never the one to lose weight like that; I was the friend or the person who heard about the person who lost the weight. I credit SparkPeople for teaching me how to make true lifestyle changes, rather than how to go on a diet. I knew how to diet. Lifestyle change takes time and patience and is a very emotional journey, one that is never really over. As one of my blogs said, “Fitness is a journey, not a destination.” That mindset made me realize that I needed something that was so individualized that I could live with it for my whole life. There could not be a “wagon” to fall off of, so to speak.

I don’t set typical goals. My goal this year is the same as always, to do better.

That leaves open so much more possibility than setting just a number on a scale. Another standard goal is a higher fitness level. I’ve come from being bedridden to a wheelchair, a walker and now a cane due to all of my disabilities. I want to spend more time using the cane and walking more. I do start with a minimum goal, however. My minimum goals are 30 pounds a year lost and 10 minutes a day of exercise. That is what I consider my springboard to launch myself higher. I like having the challenge of outdoing myself and breaking my personal bests. Open-ended goals leave me room to run free and exceed what I even might have thought possible.

If you are having trouble with “diet and exercise,” my advice would be to set minimum goals for yourself that are EASY to maintain. Those are your go to goals on stressful or busy days, or even days when “You just don’t feel like it.” Next, toss out the concept of a diet. Diets are things to go on and off of, not something that sustains you. Start thinking of things you can do in your life that will permanently fix the problem.
  • Could you eat on smaller plates most of the time?
  • Could you usually order small?
  • Would switching to less processed or whole foods suit your palate?
You have to make an individualized plan that suits your needs and likes. Planning around someone else’s likes or goals may not work for you because we are all so unique. That’s why so many "one size fits all diets" fail us. This truly is a journey of self discovery.

My career goal this year is to keep working. If you read another of my blogs, you know that I went from disability to part-time work. It is challenging and exhausting but very rewarding at the same time. It is wonderful to feel like part of the world again after a long medical hiatus.

This year, I have an exciting event planned. I’m involved in planning a Spark Rally in the Cincinnati area on May 2, 2011. It is keeping me very motivated. We have a great team of people working on this project, and you are welcome to join our team or come to the rally. The nice thing about being involved in planning or attending local rallies is that you get to meet other members and exchange ideas and motivate one another. Find more info here.

Another goal for the year is to write more blogs and articles that I hope will relate to people in a significant and helpful way. Many of you have written me and told me that my words have really touched you, and I am grateful for that. When I write, I try to do so from the heart. I hope this year that my blogs will be better and my writing much stronger. I enjoy being creative.

Evolving is what 2011 is going to be about for me. I want to do some self discovery and find what truly makes me happy. I want to connect with people, find creative outlets, let go of inhibitions, reach a higher fitness level and get further toward my goal weight than ever before. This year I think I will explore organic and whole foods a little more than I have before and take a plunge into a few fitness endeavors that I might have thought impossible in the past. That tree pose in yoga that I thought I couldn’t do last year, well 2010 was the year I did it. Now it’s on!

What did you do last year that you never thought possible? What will you do this year to top it?

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You have, and continue to accomplish amazing things. You inspire many. You have the courage and honesty to tell it like it is. Your summations of your journey do reach the heart.
I wish you the best as you continue your efforts to best yourself. Report
Wow... You are amazing! Thanks... Report
Always enjoy your blogs. Thanks for sharing! Report
Just read your inspiring you are! I've been on the diet yo-yo for many years and to know that your patience and consistency is paying off is quite inspiring. thanks for sharing Report
You are AWESOME!
Keep Goin! Report
I agree with most of what you have said except with a few exceptions that do not fit me personally. I to have been on may diets in my lifetime only to fail. I have been on Spark for 1 year and lost 64 lbs to date. I also vow to "Do Better" but I have to set goals that are not easy but with effort is attainable. I need to always challenge myself to lose an average of 2 lbs/ week. If I can lose 2.5 lbs/week great. I have been on this road long enough to feel safe in losing 2.5 lbs/week.
You are inspiring indeed and keep up the good work. Don't think I can make a SparkRally in Ohio but if it comes to the West Coast I will try to make the Rally. Report
Way to go!! I really enjoyed reading your blog. I found it very encouraging and motivating. Report
Stay the course! Report
"There is a heartbreak that comes with gaining weight back. It is hard to suffer it alone, but the world, your family and friends also watch you do it. That was an unbearable pain for me. Every time I would fail, I not only failed myself and suffered my own admonishment and disappointment, but I also suffered the looks and comments of those around me."

Yes. That is where I am now. Having lost 140 pounds, I'm almost back to where I started. I find myself avoiding public places because I don't want to run into people that I know that I haven't seen in awhile. Most don't say anything with their mouths, but have plenty to say with their eyes. Report
I'm new on Spark people and your blog was my first that I've read. Thank you for your amazing words and keep going "do to better". I'll return to read more about your experience. Thank you Report
I totally agree...exercise is a habit and starting easy but consistently doing it is key!
As a "rebounder" on Sparkpeople, what I've done this week (week 1 of the year!) was
1. Tracking my food
2. Walking 30 minutes 5 times a week (I used to do hours of Zumba, but I had to let go of my gym membership)
3. Shooting for 1500-1800 calories a day.

I can't diet anymore. I hate the feeling of hunger and deprivation. But I usually eat toward the higher end of my calorie range which makes it easier to be consistent and gives me more choices.

Coming off a major holiday junk food binge, it feels great to eat normally again! Basics, easy does it, patience, it all works! I know you'll have a great new year and reach new goals, Beth! Report
thanks for sharing. and thanks for the reminder that individual goals & results are the answer. i want to be inspired and motivated by others, but i want to do it for myself. Report
You inspire me !! Thank you for sharing with everyone - it makes it easier knowing we are all in this together and are not alone !! Report
I very much enjoyed reading your blog and congratulate you on your success in figuring out how to "do better." Moment by moment, it's what we all want....and need. Report
Wow, great job! And you look great, your face just glows :) Report
Hi Indygirl! congratulations on your success! AND THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME TO START SMALL AND CHANGE THE LITTLE THINGS....AND THE REST WILL COME!! :-) Report are an amazing, dedicated woman and I truly feel like anything is possible after reading your story. Thank you so much! Report
You are truly inspiring! Keep your positive attitude! Thanks for reminding me to set challenging but realistic goals for myself. Report
Thanks for this blog and sharing your insight and personal
journey. Pat yourself on the back - you are doing great and I know you will have continued success. Report
REALLY enjoyed reading...thanks so much for sharing, and keep up the wonderful work! Report
Wow! Thanks for sharing your story. You are an inspiration to us all. I'm confident you will succeed! Report
Hi Beth - absolutely beautiful blog as always. Here's to a spectacular 2011 and another year of building success to reach your goals! Maizey Report
Beth, this blog got me so excited!
"I like having the challenge of outdoing myself and breaking my personal bests."
"That tree pose in yoga that I thought I couldnít do last year, well 2010 was the year I did it. Now itís on!"
I LOVE the attitude! This is the viewpoint I've chosen for myself this year, and I can't wait to see where it takes me. You go, girl! And thanks for letting us share your journey!
Well, I'm definitely proud of you. You've done one heckuva life changing move. Keep it up! Report
Congrats! You're doing a great job, keep up the good work!! Report
Congrats! You're doing a great job, keep up the good work!! Report
I got a promotion! I'm going to keep stretching myself and growing so another promotion can come my way (or at least a raise). :) Report
You really are inspiring, and give great advice appropriate for those of us with major weight loss issues, for whom the Julian Michaels type approach can be daunting to the point of despair. I cheer your resolution to walk more, which has so helped me. I know how challenging that can be. You mention a walker but not what kind. I found a bariatric Rollator at cosco with 8 inch wheels that will go on lawns and gentle trails as well as inside & began walking a block at a time. I weighed 350 lbs. then, 3 years ago. I'm down to 260 now, can walk 3 miles or more in one day despite arthritic knees & ankles. I still use it for safety & a good sturdy chair when & wherever I need it, tho I sometimes use Nordic poles now to go on rougher trails. The Rollator has also proven an effective work horse for hauling groceries, library books, etc., back from my walks. Give one a try. Mine was only $150, but I think they are nearing $200 now. Well worth renewed health and freedom! Keep on writing - we need your encouragement. You are right, this is a long haul. God Bless! Report
Oh Wow - thank you so much for your invaluable advice. I have only just commenced my journey on SP and find your blog truely inspirational!

You are doing well. It definitely helps to just focus on making healthier choices. Also, include exercise to help lose more fat. If you want dessert, there are healthy versions to try. It's even better to resort to two fruits a day. Report
God Bless you! You are truly a testament to having determination. I'm working hard to get my fitness level higher again as well. After reading your blog I've pasted copies in the kitchen and in my workout area to remind me that I can do it. Report
The thing I did this last year that I have never done before was exercise. I joined a gym and I go at least 2 and usually 3 times a week and I really like it! I asked for a treadmill for Christmas and I plan to use it every night I don't go to the gym. For someone who just sat on her bottom all the time, this is a radical change. I feel like a whole new person. Report
I love to read blogs and see how other people are doing in there journey!! I am one that I think sometimes sets my goals to high and then never seem to make it happen:(! Something I've wanted to try was Zumba my friend teaches it and has been trying to get me to go to one of her classes for over a year and finally about 2wks ago I went for the first time it was fun and kind of hard to get the hang of especially if you are not coordinated like me lol but I've done it 3 times now and plan to continue! So I have to say I tried at least 2 new things in 2010 I starting going to the gym and can't complain its free threw my husbands work and I'm doing zumba I really hope this will help me get past this very long plateau!!

Congrats on your success and keep blogging!!! Report
Congrats, your doing great! Report
Truly inspirational! Thank you for sharing! :))))) Report
Beth, I hope you don't mind if I "friend" you...I feel like your thoughts fill a void in my own thinking, if that makes sense. You have such a wonderful way of visualizing things and setting goals for yourself, and those are areas in which I struggle. You are so inspiring! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Report
Tree pose is quite an accomplishment - maybe crow in 2011? Yoga is amazing...hope you keep it up! Report
Thank you for sharing, you are an inspiration. Report
WOW! What an incredible inspiration! Just added this one to my favorites.

God Bless you on your journey to health. Report
Great Blog and Great story. Thank you for sharing. Report
You look maaarvvveeelllous!!!!!! Report
what did I do last year I thought I would never do? I gained back 2/3 of the weight I had lost over 5 years ago! The goal this year?? To take it back off! Report
This is such an encouragement to me!! Thanks so much. Report
WOW!! You have done a great job!!!!You are an inspiration!!!! Report
What a huge difference! By the are gorgeous! Report
Indygirl as I said before you are an inspiration. I really need to take some lessons from you in setting my goals for this coming year. Report
Beth, thank you for sharing. I am joining you in the resolution: TO DO BETTER!
Esther! Report
Way to Go! You inspire me! Thanks for your story. Report
You are an inspiration, and your efforts are outstanding. Thank you, and happy 2011! Report
Great blog!! You are amazing and so inspiring!! Keep up the great work...and I love "To Do Better"...that's what we need to remember!! Report
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