Success Story: 'I Feel So Much Better Now!'*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Name: Michelle Howard (MOMMYOF2RN)
Weight Lost: 135 pounds
Hometown: Pelion, SC
Occupation: Registered Nurse

I gained weight through lack of exercise and an extremely poor diet with tons of soda and fast food. Before I had my first child in 1996, I weighed 144 pounds.  After delivery, I weighed 220 pounds. I chalked it up to part of having a kid. Life went on, and I started the ups and downs of weight loss. I got back down to 180 pounds and was fairly happy with myself.  In 2004, Baby #2 came along and I went right back to 220 pounds. By that time, I was involved with a very controlling spouse who feared that if I lost weight I would leave him, so I stayed very heavy through our whole relationship.

In 2010, that relationship ended and I toyed with the weight loss idea.  I joined Curves and started watching my calories; I even tried the Atkins diet. Then on Thanksgiving 2010, I had a gallbladder attack and wound up needing surgery.  My pre-op weight was 297 pounds! I was in shock.

I felt miserable. I always felt like less of a person because I was so large. In crowded areas, I always felt that someone was looking at me or making fun of me.  That kept me from trying new things.  Looking at my vacation pictures from the beach and Dollywood in 2011, I couldn’t believe that it was really me. The photos were horrible, but I just hid them instead of doing anything about them.  Then, when my size 2X scrubs didn’t fit comfortably anymore and I had to buy a size 3X, I felt horrible.

My biggest “A-Ha moment” was Thanksgiving 2011, when we went hiking in the mountains. I got so short-winded that I actually got to a point where I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it back.  It was very scary.  As a registered nurse, I see how poor lifestyles affect people every day, and I did not want to wind up like most of my patients. And as a mother of children who were heading in the same direction, I felt I owed it to them to get healthy and teach them to be healthy as well.

After the hiking incident, I joined a gym that is owned by the hospital where I work. They offer a huge discount on personal training to employees as well as membership reimbursement as long as you attend the gym 10 times per month for 12 months. So I figured I had nothing to lose. I met with my trainer two weeks after joining and started working out with her twice a week.  She led me in the right direction as to what to eat and how to incorporate exercise into my life.

After two months, I finally got up enough courage to try an aerobic weight training class. I liked it and began incorporating that into my routine. Then, I tried Zumba and LOVED it.  I gradually kept trying new classes and new exercises with my trainer. I just recently added running to my routine thanks to SparkPeople's Trick or Treat Trot Virtual 5K training program.

My trainer told me about, and from that day on, I have been very active on the site. My favorite thing is the nutrition tracker. I was so shocked at first by how truly bad my diet was, and how some of the so-called "good for you" foods weren’t really that good for you. I also loved reading the articles and blogs. Recently, I have become more involved in the message boards and I enjoy the interaction with other members.

Now, I feel so much better and I have a lot more self-confidence. I can take the stairs without practically dying! I don’t get short of breath anymore! My low back pain is gone. My new-found healthy lifestyle has also paid off for my children.  My oldest has lost 64 pounds and my "baby" has maintained without gaining. They both love being active with me!

Way to go, Michelle!

*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