How Two Valentines Lost 285 Pounds Together*


By: , – by Dani Arnold, LISTLOADRUN
  :  144 comments   :  57,516 Views

Editor's Note: Want to read more about Dani's story? Pick up a copy of the latest issue of First magazine, which features Dani and The SparkPeople Cookbook! Her story was also featured on Yahoo Shine this week.

Weight loss may not be the first topic that comes to mind when you think of Valentine's Day.  But there's really no better way to say "I love you" than resolving to get healthier, live longer and look better for your spouse, significant other, child or someone else close to your heart.  In the case of couples, several studies show that it's easier to lose weight with your partner as well as for them.  I should know.  My husband Rich and I lost a combined 285 pounds together.

We've been together almost 16 years now.  We've been through some hard times, especially losing family members and working long hours at multiple jobs to pay the bills.  We've always done it together though, which has made the load easier to bear.

But about three years ago, we looked down and realized we were both at our heaviest weight ever. I had put on a ton of weight after my mom passed away. We worked too much, took terrible care of ourselves, and weren't spending quality time together.  

So we made a commitment to each other and our marriage to make better choices.

We started small, by improving our food choices and watching portion sizes. Then I started using a free site,, for tracking foods and learning about nutrition. 

We lost a little weight, and decided we needed to get moving, too, with something we could do together.  We joined a Couch to 5K program , which helps running beginners work up to three miles within nine weeks.  As a former Marine, Rich was confident he was capable of the program, but I had never been an athlete and wasn't so sure.  I found it brutal at first, but he supported me all the way and convinced me I could do it. Before I knew it, we were running 3 nights a week together.

His struggle was with food and portion size. Since we both love to cook, we started spending more time together in the kitchen.  We knew to be successful long-term, we had to find ways to not only enjoy our food, but also enjoy the process of preparing it together, understand what we were eating, and how to best prepare it.  We used lots of healthy recipes in The SparkPeople Cookbook and on, which we also used to create recipes together. 

When all was said and done, we had lost about 285 pounds. I had gone from 266 to anywhere from 133-137 (depending on the day) and Rich had dropped from 385 to 225-230 (depending on the day).  Rich's cholesterol fell from dangerously high to normal without medication.  My resting heart rate is at an all-time low.  We've able to maintain our weight because we made a permanent transition from bad habits to a sustainable healthy lifestyle. 

Going through the weight loss together, leaning on each other and learning about ourselves as we went, has brought us closer than ever before.  We share a bond that goes beyond husband/wife/best friend.  We've seen each other at our absolute best and worst, and come through it with a new appreciation for “us”. We get to enjoy long hikes– stunning scenery, clean air, and some of our best heart-to-heart talks.

I have always respected and loved Rich for who he is, for everything from his service to our country as a US Marine, down to his integrity and kind heart. He’s smart, and he genuinely cares. I knew all of those things, but others were often hidden behind the extra pounds. As we've traveled down this new path though, I’ve watched Rich grow personally and professionally. I’ve seen him take on new challenges at work (including starting a new job with more responsibility that he is excited and passionate about) and allowing others to see more of the incredible man I have always known and loved.

Rich has also helped me see myself differently as well. He reminds me of my accomplishments and allows me to see myself through his eyes. His view of me as a smart, confident, beautiful woman is both flattering and inspiring, and has helped me continue to grow into this new improved version of me.

I'm grateful we've able to use our journey to strengthen our love and our marriage, and I hope our improved health will give me many more years to spend with my favorite Valentine.

Do you think dedicating weight loss to someone you love -- a spouse, partner, child, friend, or other someone special -- can better your chances of losing weight and getting healthy?

*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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  • 144
    While people who are important to you can certainly be an inspiration, I don't think that "dedicating weight loss" to them would typically be effective. Lifestyle changes come from within, and unless you're doing it for yourself those external motivators don't do much on their own.
    You guys are awesome; you both did what you needed to do to make yourselves stronger and healthier, and as a bonus your relationship grew too. That's wonderful! I too work out with my DH and it's a new and different bond than the one we shared before. - 4/25/2015   9:04:59 AM
  • 143
    It took me forever to find it. This picture is much better.

    - 3/8/2015   12:44:40 AM
  • 142
    I checked out your page and wow you guys look amazing! That is so awesome that you did this together and you stuck with it. Gives me hope that I can help my boyfriend though is weight loss even though I already went through all of mine - 12/18/2013   4:28:08 PM
  • 141
    Thanks for the nice comments!!

    Please know that Spark updated the article and that the top picture is not us - to see our real after pics, see my Spark page :)

    - 11/6/2013   11:27:55 PM
  • 140
    Wow! How inspiring. The older picture looks like your mom & dad. Way to go.Thanks for sharing .It's so nice to hear of a couple who still works together on their marriage. Thanks to Rich for his service to our country! - 4/4/2013   9:48:12 PM
  • 139
    You too are so good lookin'; it's hard to believe that it is you. Loosing weight and getting fit sure makes people look younger, and fabulous... - 2/13/2013   9:51:10 PM
  • 138
    AWESOME!!!!! - 2/5/2013   5:31:44 PM
    Awesome success story. - 2/5/2013   11:05:21 AM
  • PAUL2274
    What a great story and an inspiration to many others.
    Awesome!! - 2/1/2013   12:30:20 PM
  • 135
    Great blog! Wow it gives me hope and inspiration that things can change. My husband and I are both very overweight and it would be great to cook in the kitchen together. - 1/31/2013   10:10:15 AM
  • 134
    Great job to both of you! - 1/15/2013   2:10:20 PM
  • ORG1599
    Wow Awesome to see that when you work together amazing things can happen. I will have to show my husband this post :) We have joined Sparkpeople together and although he doesn't need to lose weight he needs to watch cholesterol, I need to watch sodium and lose weight so we are tracking pretty much everything. lol
    Success stories just keep us going in the right direction thanks so much for sharing ! - 1/14/2013   6:59:56 AM
  • 132
    Great job!! Amazing story - thanks for sharing. My fiance is thin as a rail but very supportive of me in my weight loss efforts. My challenge is cooking for BOTH of us in a way that's healthy - even though he's trying to put on weight and I'm trying to lose it.. it all works out. My biggest challenge is trying to get him to exercise with me. But we're making progress. Again, you two, thanks for the inspiration and you both look fantastic! You have so much to be proud of!! - 1/11/2013   10:07:19 AM
  • 131
    Great job!! Amazing story - thanks for sharing. My fiance is thin as a rail but very supportive of me in my weight loss efforts. My challenge is cooking for BOTH of us in a way that's healthy - even though he's trying to put on weight and I'm trying to lose it.. it all works out. My biggest challenge is trying to get him to exercise with me. But we're making progress. Again, you two, thanks for the inspiration and you both look fantastic! You have so much to be proud of!! - 1/11/2013   10:07:16 AM
  • 130
    Amazing! So many times you read about spouses being the worst enemies in weight loss! Congratulations to you both! - 1/10/2013   2:27:02 PM
  • 129
    Awesome story! It means so much to have someone close share in the journey. We get healthy for ourselves as much as those in our lives. Great job. Enjoy living!!! - 1/10/2013   1:29:12 PM
  • 128
    So amazing!!!! Congrats to you both! - 1/9/2013   3:33:31 PM
  • 127
    Thanks for sharing a great story! Inspirational doesn't even begin to capture how amazing you are. - 1/1/2013   9:14:54 AM
  • 126
    Inspirational. Fun to have a healthy common goal. Keep up the good work. - 12/26/2012   7:20:02 AM
    Awesome! Great couple growing, learning, improving your lives together! - 12/13/2012   10:11:18 PM
  • 124
    Very inspirational. Someday when I grow up, I hope to have a relationship where we grow healthy together! - 12/12/2012   6:55:16 PM
  • 123
    What a wonderful story. I love happy endings (grin). Thank you for sharing with us. - 11/10/2012   9:04:26 AM
    Well Done!! Thanks for sharing your story with us! :) - 10/11/2012   7:27:54 PM
  • 121
    Great story. Thanks for sharing with us. I am certain many will find this very
    motivating. - 9/16/2012   8:35:18 PM
  • 120
    This is a true "happy-ever-after" type of success story. It is very inspiring to see how you both joined each other on your weight loss journeys together, and lost the weight together. It is proof that in unity there is strength. There is strength in numbers. I have been going to the gym with my husband, and he now joins me on my walk in the neighborhood after lunch, as he has gotten committed to living a healthier lifestyle also, since I joined Sparkpeople. And it all started from my having gotten hospitalized for diverticulitis, and the doctor recommending that I go on a diet and exercise program. And, I found Sparkpeople. Cheers to you and your hubby. I know that me and my hubby will be able to get a healthier life as well, too. - 9/5/2012   10:53:06 AM
  • 119
    Great story, very inspirational! Thank you! - 5/19/2012   12:22:29 AM
  • 118
    Thank you for being such a big inspiration!! - 5/3/2012   3:27:07 PM
  • 117

    - 5/2/2012   6:51:16 PM
  • 116
    WOW, what a great success story! You guys make a beautiful couple. Wishing you continued love and success. - 5/2/2012   4:58:52 PM
  • 115
    You both look wonderful and happy. Very inspiring! - 4/30/2012   10:03:05 AM
  • 114
    Fantastic! - 4/28/2012   7:43:36 AM
    Thanks so much for sharing! True inspiration! - 4/26/2012   8:01:53 PM
    Very inspiring story! Congratulations on your success. You both look great! Best wishes. - 4/13/2012   2:26:45 PM
    Great story truly motivational to read. I hope one day I will be celebrating my weight loss success. Congrats to you both ! - 3/10/2012   11:24:06 PM
  • 110
    Beautiful story! Beautiful people! I think you are both amazing!

    In this day of tossed aside marriages, it is refreshing to hear you talk of how it was because you worked together that you had success. We truly do need each other! And when you find a great Valentine, you should hang on forever!

    Way to go, you two!
    Blessings! - 3/8/2012   2:11:18 PM
  • 109
    Wow, this is a true love story. Thanks for sharing. - 3/8/2012   9:05:18 AM
  • 108
    Great story!! Very encouraging to see a couple work together to be more physically fit rather than just "grow comfortable" with each other on the couch!! - 3/7/2012   1:13:52 PM
  • 107
    Great story! What wonderful benefits you're now experiencing from making such good decisions. - 3/1/2012   8:16:40 PM
  • 106
    I saw this story on yahoo news and it lead me to this site. Already I've lost 3 pounds and am on my way to my new life. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You guys look great together. - 2/20/2012   3:58:31 PM
  • SAS202554
    Awesome story!!! I want to try this with my husband. He is always supportive in what I want or need to do. - 2/19/2012   11:29:40 AM
  • 104
    I found SparkPeople thanks to your story on Yahoo. I couldn't be more grateful that you mentioned SP and led me here! You are an inspiration and you both look absolutely beautiful! Now I am on my own journey to health, thanks to your testimony. - 2/18/2012   10:56:53 PM
  • 103
    Absolutely WONDERFUL! Congratulations! I love the tools here as well as the idea of 'no deprivation.' I figure my favs in to my total...just being sure the more nutritional items are there first!

    Wish I could run...I'll stick to walking, though...OA in the knees and hips.

    Do be sure you wear good supportive shoes and buy new ones when you need to do so.

    Hugs... - 2/18/2012   8:44:02 PM
  • 102
    You inspire me to get my husband on this journey with me. - 2/18/2012   10:09:06 AM
    What a wonderful story - thanks for sharing.
    - 2/18/2012   9:24:42 AM
    All I can say is WOW! What an amazing transformation. You' are truely inspiring! Congrats! - 2/18/2012   7:31:42 AM
    YOU GUYS ARE A REAL INSPIRATION GARY - 2/18/2012   7:18:00 AM
    Thanks so much for sharing your story, very inspiring indeed. Great that you had each other for support on your journey! - 2/18/2012   12:57:23 AM
  • 97
    What a totally inspiring story and what a gorgeous couple you are!! WOW!
    It makes me think that you should be working as motivators for couples wanting to lose weight together. Congratulations!!! - 2/17/2012   8:21:12 PM
  • 96
    You both look amazing. Congratulations! - 2/17/2012   8:05:41 PM
    This just made me smile....congratulations to the 2 of you. Your love shows with the way you encourage each other and have carried each other through all of this. May your lives be long and happy together. - 2/17/2012   9:49:39 AM

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