My Journey: 120 Pounds Down and Halfway to Goal

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)

When I started Spark People, I honestly never expected to lose 10 pounds, let alone 120. Iíve known people who have lost 100 or more pounds, I was just never one of them. I was one of those people that would lose weight for a few months and then regain it with a vengeance. It took a week of eating to undo a month or two of dieting

I was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease, herniated disks, pinched never bundles, fibromyalgia, knee problems, osteoarthritis, neuropathy, hypothyroidism, diabetes, bipolarism and the list continues sadly. It became a daily battle just to get out of bed. Reclining in bed was the only was to relieve the pain, so I spent nearly all of my time in my bedroom where my body hurt less and steadily gained up to 460 pounds.

Me, at 460 pounds

As a child, I was very obese by third grade and teased unmercifully until senior year of high school and college. By then I had developed bulimia to control my weight and felt in control for the first time in my life. The sad part was that I was just above 200 pounds and never did see myself for the pretty girl that I was. By the time I got help and my bulimia was ďcured,Ē I found myself binging and not purging. Excessive weight became even more of an issue as I reached over 300 pounds.

At this point I started trying different diet centers with short lived success. I went to Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, Physicianís Weight Loss, and L.A. Weight Loss, some of them two or more times. Nothing ever really stuck as a lifestyle change, it was always a diet. A diet is something to get on and off of, not the same as a new way of relating to myself and food. Thatís what I really needed.

I tried gyms, too. I joined several over the years, and to tell you the truth, they were more effective at keeping weight off than the diet centers. I mostly stuck to water aerobics, the elliptical trainer, track, and treadmill. I also enjoyed the weight machines for strength training. Over time, I quit going little by little as a membership would expire or life would get in the way.

Progressively my body became more painful over the years and when I hit my desperation point. My body literally seemed to be falling apart, and I was crying alone in my bedroom most days afraid that I would be stuck there to die. I could no longer shop or go out with friends. My whole life was in my bedroom, and I was depressed, very depressed.

Every doctor I saw begged me to have weight-loss surgery, but I didnít have the right mindset. Itís stomach surgery, not brain surgery, and most of my issues were in my head. I did attend some surgery group meetings where I became convinced that surgery is right for some people, just not for me. I already had enough pain going on and had digestive issues already due to diabetes and irritable bowel. A few people at the meetings were also complaining of the same issues I had: the desire to keep eating after they were full, wanting to eat when they werenít hungry, and not wanting to follow their diet plan. That didnít seem that much different from me without the surgery.

Spark People came into my life about that time in a serious manner. I had heard about it before and thought it was probably the same old junk as everything else I had tried. I didnít give it much thought until that desperation point I was telling you about, which happened to coincide with my investigation into weight loss surgery. I read about a tip of changing to organic milk to avoid growth hormones that might cause weight gain in Dr. Ozís book ďYou on a Diet.Ē That was my very first SparkPeople Fast Break goal, and I lost about 10 pounds just doing that alone. From there I started using 9-inch plates instead of dinner plates, drinking more water, eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain, ordering small and moving 10 minutes a day minimum. Each of these things were added one at a time Fast Break style. As I succeeded at making SparkStreaks, the weight came off.

I followed the SparkPeople meal plan to the letter, which is not so much a diet, but a way of setting up successful streaks, setting up your environment, learning healthy habits, and helping others become healthier too. Itís through following those steps that I learned to stop dieting and make a lifestyle change.

Controlling my appetite was very difficult. I had to learn to eat the right things, like lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and dairy. While I didnít eat strictly, I ate better than I had. I cut out as much processed junk as I could because it made me hungry. Anytime I indulged in really sugary food, I got cravings for more, so I am sure to eat extra fruit after that to squash the cravings. Nuts and water seemed to help control snack cravings, as did apples and peanut butter. Basically I looked for a protein and fiber mix to stop hunger and add fruit for a sweet touch.

Exercise was seemingly impossible at 460. I basically got tired of my old doctor and interviewed a few doctorís offices on the phones, especially those that were internists or dealt with bariatric patients. I asked point blank if the doctor had trouble dealing with fat people and if I could count on the office for my whole health care. I found a doctor who was an internist and was also affiliated with a bariatric hospital. After running many tests, it was determined I was too disabled to even go to physical therapy, and they had home physical therapy brought to me. Thatís where my exercise started.

Today I am beyond the halfway point between 460 and 225. Iíve lost 120 pounds. I use an arm cycle to exercise because my legs donít work well and have gone up to 16 miles in a day. Iíve come from bed ridden to a wheelchair, to a walker named ďFreedom.Ē I walked short distances on my own, despite the pain. I donít eat perfectly, but I eat better than I used to and I am so much more picky about what I allow into my body. I no longer treat it like a garbage disposal for leftovers or stuff it to clean off a plate. Itís the little things that got me here.

As a reward, I got a porch swing. Not only does it get me outside, but it burns calories when I rock. I can also do leg extensions by placing my feet directly under me and then pushing back until my legs are straight. Just rocking toe to heel will work the calf muscles and none of it is standing. Iím sure Iíll invent more exercises with my new toy. I also plan to buy a bangle bracelet because at my heaviest I was not able to wear one. It would be a great reminder of how far Iíve come.

I still have pain and I still spend most of my time in my bedroom to relieve the pain, but I have hope and much more variety in my life now. I am actually more in control of my body again. Maybe I canít cure the incurable, but I can make my life the best it can be.

The lessons I learned from all of this are that small doable changes work, while sudden life overhauls donít. Consistency is going to show. It doesnít matter if you do 10 more minutes of exercise or eat just one or two less things a day. It will make a difference. Life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now!

How did you celebrate when you hit your halfway point?

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You are such an inspiration! I am sending this one on to friends who complain about their lives! I bet you're words will encourage them.
Keep up the drive!
Your story is inspirational, you make me feel quite guilty for not simply doing it! Report
You touched my heart. Thank you for your inspiration and courage on this journey. I, too, have Fibromyalgia and Osteoarthritis and understand your pain. May God bless you always. Report
Way to Go!!! You ROCK!!! Keep it UP!! Report
Amazing! Weight to go!!! Report
I feel like I could really connect to your story and how you dealt with your weight issue in school and a little beyond. Good for you, you should be SO PROUD! Report
Beth; Thank you for your blog... It's truly an inspiring story, and I'm glad I came across it...
I pray that God blesses your continued weight loss/lifestyle change journey, and that one day you'll be able to walk far with no pain!! Maybe I'll see ya out on the road even, one day... You never know!!

Blessings, Ted Report
Fight the good fight...the fight for a wonderful life that you truly deserve Report
Way to go, don`t give up and hopefully all your aches and pains get less as the pounds come off. Report
I'm so proud of you! What an inspiring and very helpful blog post!
I would like to suggest one more small change down the road for you, and that is to eliminate wheat gluten. I did it a few months ago, and I was amazed at the positive changes in my health.
You couldn't pay me to eat an item with wheat gluten in it now!
Just something to think about as it does cause a lot of problems like hormone/bipolar/fibromialgia/IBS/au
to immune disorders and so many more.

Well done for your 120 pound loss! YOU SO SPARK!! Report
You are fabulous! Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story!
Chris Report
Beth, congratulations and thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration - keep up the good work; you can DO IT!!!
I am so happy I ran across this article and I am so glad that you shared with all of us. You are very inspirational. Hang in there and keep on trucking. Report
Thanks for sharing your amazing story congrats! Report
You are a very inspiring, strong woman!!!! Wish you the best in your ongoing journey. Report
Amazing story, Inspirational words to live by. Report
Thank you so much for sharing. Just the inspiration I need. keep up the great work. Report
I am going through a rough patch with my food, eating food that is junk...your blog is an inspiration...I hope I can get back to the clean food I was at a month ago Report
CONGRATULATIONS!! It's success stories like this one that gives me the incentive and the motivation that it is possible. Rather it's 5 pounds or 600 pounds to lose it can be done. Great blog.! Thanks for sharing. Report
I can feel your pain and happiness. I have and still am where you were. I started this journey a few years ago and still working it. I have just lately come to the conclusion that I have to live and be important in my own life. You are a true inspiration! Keep up the good work girl!

Take good care of you,

Kristin Report
i wish you continued success! Report
Your blog made me stop and pay attention. It made me cry. I am having trouble beginning this program. I go on when I remember it. After reading about how you changed your goals little by little, I think I will try harder.Thank you so much for your words of encouragement.
Lizzi Report
120 lbs is amazing!! Way to go! Report
WOW you are a very special woman to have gone through what you have and then to turn your life around in such a positive way that will help others see that they too can do it.
God Bless
Carol Report
Thanks for sharing/inspiring/motivating! Report
Very inspirational! You give me the courage to face this challenge head on...and the confidence that I know I can do it! Thanks for sharing. Keep up the great are beautiful! Report
YOU ARE AMAZING!!! Wonderful Blog! Keep it up, and enjoy the new women you are becoming! Thanks for sharing! Report
Thanks for sharing!! Keep it can do it!! Report
Wow - contests and thanks for being an inspiration! Keep up the great work!!! Report
Just wanted to thank you for the reminders to start small, and that small changes add up. I'm enjoying your blogs! Report
Thank you for your your words of wisdom. It is wonderful that you have done so well and are helping others by sharing your path to success! Report
Your story is very inspiring. I'm going to quote you on my visual motivation list of quotes and phrases-"Life is happening now, not ten pounds from now!" Report
Your an inspiration to me!! Report
Wow.... thanks for sharing your story. Found it really really motivational. Report
I love are amazing...others would have given up and suffered more but you tried and are moving forward....I have to agree its the small changed that matter and help so has helped me so far...and SparkPeople has helped out a lot, so many stories to keep you going just like yours...thank you for sharing and keep moving forward...Congrats on your success and future success and your new life style :) Report
Thanks for sharing your story, it is trully inspirational and congratulations on your weight loss Report
Awesome job on losing the weight and changing your lifestyle!!! Report
thank you for can do it!! we all can... Report
Wow! What an awesome story. Thank you for sharing. Report
What an inspiration you are! Keep up the good work and may God bless you! Report
Wow, what a blessing you are to the Spark community. Your tenacity and courage is overwhelming. I wish you the best and as your weight continues to drop I know your health will continue to improve. Thanks for the pep talk. Report
You are an absolute inspiration, Beth! I have read your blog numerous times and you never fail to amaze me with your courage and strength! Congratulations on your success so far and good luck for the future. I too have passed the halfway point and I haven't given up, but your stories just make me want to work harder to achieve my goal. Thank you! Report
Great blog! Keep up the great work! Report
Very moving. You're a great inspiration, keep up the good work. Report
Beth, you are my new hero! Great job! I will look forward to more posts!!! Report
You are such an inspiration. Report
Good going now you have proved to yourself that you can do it. I have a lot of weight to lose and I will be sure to celebrate when I am half way. Congratulations on your journey to a healthier you!

Melinda Report
Kudos to you.....I had weight loss surgery years ago. I really respect your decison to choose a path that was right for you. What most poeple do not realize that it is only a tool. I truly enjoy your blog. As you said previously, if your minds not right you basically ill not succeed. Or maybe it was what I took from it. Have a peceful day!!! Report
I, too, loved your blog. You and I have similar stories. If you can do it, I can do it too.

Keep up the wonderful work - you look GREAT!

Jen Report
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