My Journey: 120 Pounds Down and Halfway to Goal


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  878 comments   :  49,438 Views

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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  • 878
    Awesome! Thank you for sharing your journey with SparkPeople! What an inspiration! - 11/18/2017   6:13:35 AM
  • 877
    You are amazing! - 7/21/2017   8:19:12 AM
  • 876
    Porch Swing?? I was totally enthralled when I read that. The link didn't work, unfortunately, and it seems that your regular blog no longer has as many of your blogs (only 7 pages worth!!). I'm hoping to find out more about that! We've talked about getting a porch swing for the back yard... - 11/19/2015   12:25:21 AM
  • 875
    I've just started my journey. I need to lose at least 50 lbs. After reading this, I'm thinking this may just be possible. - 5/6/2015   6:29:16 AM
  • 874
    How did I celebrate? We started planning a trip to Greece for this summer (well, actually that was at ONEderland, which was slightly past the halfway point). I can't wait to go... - 1/28/2015   2:41:32 PM
  • JOYIS60
    I was so encouraged by you ! Thank you for sharing your journey. - 11/27/2012   7:06:05 AM
  • 872
    You rock, girl. Keep pushing. Halfway there =) - 9/23/2012   10:47:14 AM
  • 871
    Girl, I am so proud of you and all the work it took. Keep up the good work!!
    stay in touch with me!!
    Claudia Moore
    Claudiree - 4/2/2012   7:18:14 PM
  • AUGUSTA777
    Excellent progress! Thanks for posting your journey; it's wonderful that you are closer to your goal. - 4/1/2012   4:42:04 PM
  • 869
    You are amazing! Great going. - 3/30/2012   5:14:26 PM
  • 868
    Wow! What an inspiration you are to me. Hopefully before you know it, you'll have freedom from "freedom". Keep the will reach you goals! - 3/23/2012   5:32:46 PM
  • 867
    Wow, you are such an inspiration. Congratulations on meeting the halfway point of your journey. I wish you the best of luck :) - 1/26/2012   1:32:18 PM
  • 866
    Truly an astonishing transformation. Just looking at your face in the two pictures. Look how much happier you are. It shows!! Thank you for sharing your story. I pray you continue to drop the weight, and in that, heal some of the other issues. - 1/24/2012   10:59:31 PM
  • 865
    Wow! You are such an inspiration! Congratulations on reaching your halfway mark! Keep up the hard work, I'm sure you'll reach your goal before you know it! Thank you so much for sharing! We all truly appreciate it!!! (: - 1/23/2012   8:00:39 PM
  • 864
    I love that you were wise enough to know the surgery would need a mental change as well, and not do it just because the doctors told you! Your story is inspirational. You do what you can where you are, and that's great! Keep it up! We want to see you meet your goal, so we know we can too! - 1/23/2012   6:54:02 PM
  • 863
    WOW! You are amazing and have given me inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story! - 1/23/2012   3:24:06 PM
  • VBA0731
    Congrats! Your story is amazing!!! - 1/23/2012   3:04:16 PM
  • 861
    Awesome! Thanks for the inspiration. I have a long way to go and really needed to read this today! Continued Blessings on your journey! - 1/23/2012   1:49:06 PM
    Beth, I was so proud of you when I read your blog today. I'm at the beginning of what seems like a huge, daunting task--to lose 150 pounds after failing to reach my goal weight and gaining more back for almost 30 years. You give me hope, and no matter what your weight was in those pictures, you have such a sweet and lovely and kind face---I bet you are a delightful person to know! - 1/23/2012   1:37:58 PM
  • 859
    Beth, your story is incredible. I realy think you should be a story on the Dr. Oz show and you write very well so I thinkyou should write a book as inspiration to others. Congratulations on making it to Freedom and the decision to continue on your journey without bariatric surgery. You should be extra proud of yourself for all yor achievements! - 1/23/2012   12:52:05 PM
  • 858
    Good for you - great job !! - 1/23/2012   12:27:40 PM
  • 857
    i hope you buy yourself all the bangle bracelets you could possibly handle!
    you are amazing. keep it up!! you may not need 'freedom' much longer! - 10/12/2011   3:19:39 PM
  • 856
    Beth! You are beautiful! Congrats on your huge achievement! You've done the hardest part! It should only get easier from here. Keep up the great work! - 10/12/2011   10:16:47 AM
  • 855
    You have inspired me today. Thank you very much. It sure helps to know there are other people out there that struggle as I do. - 10/11/2011   9:38:22 PM
  • 854
    Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. How amazing you are to have all that you do and to come as far as you have. I just need to remember the small changes as you mentioned. One of the things my mom says to me all of the time, "Honey, did you put the weight on over night??? You cannot lose it overnight, so be patient with yourself! Keep on doing what your doing and keep us all posted. You go Girl! - 10/11/2011   12:21:08 PM
  • 853
    The swing was a great idea and treat. You are magnificent, and a role model for many. Keep it up, and congratulations. - 10/8/2011   6:27:56 PM
  • 852
    The obstacles you've overcome are huge. Thank you for sharing your story. Whenever I start to feel like I have difficulties I need to remember you and the amazing work you've done. Good luck honey! - 10/8/2011   12:27:05 PM
  • 851
    You wrote my life story right down to resistance to weight loss because I know the issue is in my head, being diagnosed bipolar and living with very severe depression ( my daughter committed suicide which has made life difficult to deal with, and then in June I lost my longtime job and there is no work out there for someone like me-old, obese, under educated). I try very hard to be involved with Spark, I try to appear very positive,I send welcome messages to as many new members as I can, but I still feel phony and empty. I will continue to read your blog for inspiration and realization that there is hope out there. Thank you for your raw honesty. I touched my soul. - 9/30/2011   1:10:01 PM
  • 850
    you are an inspiration and motivate me to keep going....I have a bad back and had surgery 3 years ago which only relieved the sharp pains but left me with nerve damage daily pain and a drop foot. I keep going everyday but some days are hard to get going...Now I have your blog to look back at! Thanks for your blog!!!! - 9/20/2011   10:01:44 PM
  • NJ_HOU
    You are an inspiration to me ! - 9/20/2011   1:14:42 PM
  • JO0926
    Good for you!!! Keep on working. You're an inspiration! - 9/20/2011   12:18:38 PM
  • 847
    I loved reading your story! You are very inspiring to me, and I'm sure, everyone who has read this blog. I think you are doing great and hope to see more blogs from you with your awesome progess! I too, thought about weight-loss surgery, but decided it's not for me as well. Thanks again for posting your blog. You are doing fantastic!!! - 9/20/2011   11:55:37 AM
  • 846
    GOOSEBUMPS!!! :) Keep on keepin on, I'm half way to my goal as well!! - 9/20/2011   9:31:32 AM
  • 845
    keep on sparking...once I got to a healthy weight all of my pain left...feels so amazing. - 9/17/2011   10:05:34 AM
  • 844
    You are an amazing and beautiful woman. Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story. Best wishes on your continued journey to better health and happiness! - 9/16/2011   5:54:41 PM
  • 843
    Keep going strong! - 8/13/2011   12:25:05 PM
  • 842
    Wow you are amazing, Thank you for sharing with us.. - 8/10/2011   4:14:15 PM
  • YOYO200983
    Beth what a courage you have. Thanks for the sharing. - 8/8/2011   7:39:47 AM
  • 840
    You are amazing!! Way to go!! - 8/6/2011   1:05:08 PM
  • 839
    WOW, what an inspiration you are!!!!! - 8/6/2011   9:42:39 AM
    Beth: Thank you so much for sharing your story. I just found this site yesterday and I'm not sure how. They say "when the student is ready, the teacher appears". You have certainly earned the title "teacher" and are still progressing as a student too. We're never too old to learn. Thank you again. - 7/31/2011   6:27:31 PM
    Wow! What an inspiration. I have similar physical limitations and understand how hard it is to "get moving" when every step, every movement you make just plain hurts. You have inspired me to get back on track. I have not quite as much weight to lose (I currently weigh 315) and am not bed ridden - but close. Keep up the hard work and stay determined. We can do this! - 7/19/2011   11:49:20 AM
    You are absolutely incredible... - 7/19/2011   11:46:03 AM
    Congrats on your success. Way 2 go! You are such an inspiration. I know its hard. I"ve been fighting this fight for a while, but finally im winning this time. Im down 45 lbs. My goal is 100 by the end of the year. - 7/18/2011   6:28:26 PM
    You are a great inspiration... wow! You can honestly say... If I can do it, anyone can! - 7/18/2011   5:29:02 PM
  • 833
    I want you to know that you are not only an inspiration, but that you have brought me to tears. I have felt pretty sorry for myself with all the yoyoing that I have done over the years, but I am healthy and able to keep moving. You have kept this up despite the pain and I will remember this every time I start fussing because I am tired of the battle.

    You look wonderful! Thank you for your willingness to share. You are in my prayers! - 7/15/2011   2:09:16 PM
    You are an inspiration to me. I always look forward to your blogs.
    Congratulations! - 7/15/2011   12:21:26 PM
    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!
    - 6/30/2011   8:30:45 AM
  • 830
    Your story is inspirational, you make me feel quite guilty for not simply doing it! - 6/28/2011   8:04:22 AM
  • 829
    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. - 6/26/2011   10:20:34 PM

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