Success Story: 'I Was Made for More!'*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Meet Carley Cooper (username SPARKYCARLEY), a SparkPeople member who pledged to heal her body so she could heal her mind. Read on to learn about her inspirational journey! 

What is your age?:  46

How long have you been a SparkPeople member? How did you find SparkPeople?: I have been a SparkPeople member since October of 2008. I was referred by another SparkPeople member who I had met on a support website.

What is your favorite feature on SparkPeople?:  My favorite features are the Nutrition and Fitness Trackers, as well as the support from other members. I could not have done this journey without their support.

How much weight have you lost?:  I originally lost 75 pounds, which put me at my goal weight. I gained back a little and I'm now at a loss of 62 pounds. I've reset my new goal to be a total of 85 pounds lost.

How long did it take to lose the weight?:  It took me about one year.

What was your light bulb moment that made you decide to lose weight?:   You see, I have bipolar disorder and social anxiety disorder. At one point, I was living with a disabled man. My mental health was so bad that I often couldn't take care of myself.  He took care of me, when it should have been the other way around. When I broke up with this man, I realized that I was about to land in the hospital in the mental health ward. This was terrifying, as I was newly single and alone. I was so afraid of what was to become of me. I had gotten to the point where I didn't trust the medical industry to help me.

My ''ah-ha!'' moment developed from this dark place. I had no choice but to do something to save myself before it was too late... because no one else was going to do it for me. I needed to get my future back before it slipped through my fingers for good.  In order to get into a healthier mental state, I knew I would require a healthy body, too.  The first step to that I could think of was to lose weight. ''I can't have a healthy mind without a healthy body'' was my theory, and my motivation.

What was your biggest obstacle while trying to lose weight?:   Staying motivated to work out, especially during the winter.

What does your weekly exercise schedule look like?:  In the summer, I work out outside and do a strength training video at home. I work out to SparkPeople videos during the winter, since it gets very cold here in Canada. I work out 4-6 days per week. 

What is your favorite way to exercise?: 
We have a very beautiful lakefront where I live. My favorite way to exercise is power-walking in the park near the lake.

Do you have any personal fitness goals coming up?:  My personal fitness goal is to have tight abs. It's my biggest struggle.

What does a typical day of food look like for you? How does this compare to the way you ate before your transformation?:  A typical day of food would be: 

Breakfast: Pro-biotic yogurt with almonds and berries mixed in, green tea, and a piece of fruit or a whole-grain slice of toast with butter. Other times, I may have a boiled egg, a piece of fruit, green tea, and a slice of whole-grain toast with butter.  

Lunch: A spinach salad with chicken breast and veggies, with green tea. Or, a personal pizza made on a whole-grain tortilla, tomato sauce, fresh veggies and a small amount of grated mozzarella cheese. 

Dinner: A serving of fish, chicken, or beef, with fresh veggies and a small potato or brown rice. 

Snacks: A piece of fruit, or some veggie nibblers (carrot or celery sticks, radishes, green pepper, broccoli), or maybe some nuts. 

What is your favorite healthy food?:  My favorite healthy food is spinach. I absolutely love it. I get big energy boosts after I'm finished eating a spinach salad for lunch. It keeps me going all afternoon!

What is your favorite treat food?:  My favorite treat food is a chocolate chip cookie. I allow myself one day per week to have some extra treats, like a cookie or a small piece of cake.

Who is your biggest inspiration?:  My biggest inspiration are my SparkPeople friends. They've supported me through the good days and the bad days. They keep me going, they inspire and motivate me, and they help me feel like I'm helping them right back. I feel loved and useful. 

Do you have a personal mantra/saying/quote that you live by that you'd like to share?:  My personal mantras are:

''As long as you don't quit, you're not a failure''


''I was made for more'' 

I have these written on sticky notes and pasted on my mirror and my refrigerator. These things inspire me to keep pushing myself hard and keep my goals in sight. I spent years avoiding mirrors as much as possible. At about 50 pounds into my weight-loss journey, I happened to see myself in the mirror for the first time in a long time. I was wearing just my underwear. I started to cry; I couldn't believe my eyes. I looked like one of those women that intimidated me because they look so good. Another time, I took out my ''skinny'' jeans that I had been saving as a goal. They were too big!  It was an exciting day for sure. 

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

Does Carley inspire you? What can YOU do today become a healthier version of yourself, in both body and mind?

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Wow...way to go Carly! I'm hoping that you're still Sparking these days! Report
this was very good article. Report
Just saw your story. Congratulations on overcoming your obstacles and sticking with it. You look fantastic! Report
Awesome story. You inspire me! Thank you so much for sharing! Report
Love the story and your, "Mantras"....Keep pushing!!! Report
Very inspirational!! Keep up the good work by helping others while you help yourself. God bless you!! Report
Thank you for sharing your story. I see it is years later and you are still inspiring the SP family!! Report
I just read your story and was inspired by it, I hope that you are doing well, God Bless You Report
Congratulations! I am so inspired by you, your story is so close to mine. I can't wait to get into skinny jeans!! Report
What an inspiring story and thank you so much for sharing. I loved it when you put on the "skinny jeans" and they were too big for you :).......AMAZING!! Report
What a BLESSING you are to others and what a BLESSING that has been given to you through your hard work and will. Job well done!

Very Inspiring Story. Thanks for sharing. And congrats on your success due to your hard work. Report
Well done, and thank you. Your achievement is a great encouragement to the rest of us. Report
Congratulations and thank you for your inspiring story. I too was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and am struggling with losing the 80 pounds I've gained from the medications. I have hope because of you and your journey. Blessed Be. Report
I think you look fabulous and you should be so proud of yourself and your achievement. You look half your age compared to the before picture and the current one on this site. Keep up the good work. Report
Amazing journey are an inspiration thank you Report
What a beautiful story, thank you for sharing and many more triumphs to you on your continued journey. Report
Thank you so much for sharing this. I have major depressive disorder as well as a spinal cord injury. Reading this shows me that I can lose the weight. Thank you so much! Report
Good for you!! I don't know why I have been thinking that this time I can't really lose the weight (I lost all I needed in 2008.) But you have inspired me to keep going and to also realize it took a lot of calories to get where I am now so it will take a lot of calories not eaten and exercise to meet that goal again. Report
Thank you for your inspiring. It always is hard to make the first step. But you did it in a great way. It is helping to direct myself in a positive way... Report
Carley, bravo! I loved your story and you have done a fabulous job! Anni Report
WOW! You are such an inspiration! Report
Awesome! Carley, you look terrific and happy (rock that red dress, girl!!), and you deserve every bit of it; you worked hard for it! Very inspiring story; thank you for sharing :). Report
Good for you Carley! Very inspiring story. I wish you all the motivation energy and will power you need to continue on your amazing journey!! Report
my first day here and my first success story to read. VERY INSPIRING. very real. thank you for sharing! Report
What an inspirational story! Wow! Thank you for sharing, really inspired me! Report
I am a returning member to Spark after a long absence. Your story inspired me that it was a great decision to come back. Thank you for your inspiration and good luck on your continuing journey. (I endure those Canadian winters too!) Report
Way to go Carley! Report
You go girl! You have overcome so much! And, you are such an inspiration to the rest of us. I'm glad I read your story:) Report
Very inspiring. Thank you! Report
Your story is very inspiring, Congratulations on your success...I hope to one day have a success story as great as yours. Report
Congrats! Hopefully some day I will have lasting success. Report
Awesome job! You are an inspiration to me :) Report
Wow you have really come a long way. I am glad to see that you have inspired so many others that seem to be suffering the same way. Best wishes to you on your journey. Report
Your story is an inspiration and a blessing. Thanks for sharing with us.
Linda Report
Very inspiring. Congratulations! Report
Wow! How inspiring for someone like me who struggles with bipolar and now my weight. Thank you for showing me it can be done! Report
Wow! It's amazing how weight loss can change a person's life! Report
Thank you for sharing your story.

This is my first day on SparkPeople and I was inspired by reading your story (esp the part about the mirror since I too avoid mirrors... at least full length ones). Looking forward to such an experience!

You have certainly overcome a lot and you look amazing and you have helped to take a bit of the dread off the journey in front of me.

Good luck on your new goal! Report
Love your story. Report
A true Blessing to me! Report
So inspiring. Report
hey ! u inspired me in a way ! good job, keep it uop. i wana follow you as well ! Report
you're awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am also bipolar with social anxiety. Know from experience it's a tough road, but I'm so glad to be here - I'm enjoying the support.. SO HAPPY FOR YOU...!! Report
You are an inspiration for everyone. Bless you. Report
You look great! Keep up the good work! Report
It has got to be good to read all the good wishes. I too have bipolar disorder and it has to reach a point where the only person who can save you is YOU. After that realization the rest is piece of calorie free cake walk. Best wishes for continued health. Report
What an inspiring story. You taught us an important lesson on being holistic-integrate the body and mind in all that we do!! Report
Awesome! Thanks for sharing! Report
Thank you friends for all the wonderful support and encouragement. Many blessings to each one of you. HUGS Report