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Beth Donovan's No Weight Loss Surgery, No Gimmicks
Story of Making Healthy Happen...

Pounds lost 230 and counting...

If you are reading this thinking YOU can't lose weight and get healthy because you're disabled or so far gone and hopeless, this is for you...

An Interview with Beth Donovan (~indygirl)
What was life like before your weight loss?

I have been heavy since childhood. I became my largest in the early 2000s. I ate for comfort and refuge from my life. I had a very controlling mother and watched my father die of a heart attack. Both were abusive and very heavy, but they sure watched everything I ate. Then, behind my mother's back, my dad would take me out and challenge me to eating contests. In my teens and 20s, my weight was kept under control mostly by bulimia. I always sought comfort in food, and when I got married and things got rough at times, my eating would escalate.

At my largest, it also was the saddest time of my life. I lived in my bedroom and could no longer walk. I became disabled by three herniated disks, two pinched nerve bundles, fibromyalgia, degenerative joint disease, bone on bone knees and arthritis. I had to stop and rest just trying to get around my house to get to the restroom or kitchen. I also had to quit my job and could no longer fit behind the wheel of a car. Days became very lonely, as I stayed home alone for years. Several times, I became so depressed I called the crisis line.

What was the main motivation behind your weight loss?

My best friend, Tina, was my biggest motivation to lose weight. She had weight-loss surgery, which I didn’t do, but she was out having a life again. I wanted that too! Then, I read a book called "YOU: On a Diet." It taught me how to stay satisfied. My other friend, Lori, pointed me to SparkPeople and I became an addict. Every time I feel like eating, I log on. Let's just say that some days while I'm home alone, I'm on A LOT!

Tell us a bit about your weight-loss journey:

I attempted weight-loss surgery three times, and finally achieved a "YES" from the medical staff on the third try. At the mandatory pre-surgery meetings, all of the patients were complaining of being hungry after eating, wanting to eat emotionally, and binge. I then realized it was stomach surgery, not brain surgery. No need to cut up my stomach to feel how I already feel, first I needed to get my head right. So, I fired my doctors and got new ones who would prescribe a new approach.

I started with in-home physical therapy, where I learned that even little movements prepare you for bigger ones. Since I couldn't walk, I got an arm bike and used it faithfully. I also created seated exercises. I weighed and measured everything. I rejoiced at every loss, no matter how big or small, and implemented a reward system. I eventually made it out of my wheelchair and up to a walker. Once on a walker, I trained for a year and then walked a 5K with it at the mall, where I could take breaks at each end.

The SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker helped me get a realistic view of what I was really eating and Coach Nicole inspired me to move. I started logging my arm bike miles on the Fitness Tracker, and I felt proud with each entry.

There was so much to read and earn SparkPoints for, so I kept busy like a college student learning a new lifestyle. I blogged about everything once I saw there was hope. I wanted others to have hope, too. I've gotten so much support from the people on SparkPeople. Without them, I fear I would fail, yet again. I want to share back with people now. I want people to see that it can be done, no matter what shape you're in, no matter your ability level, no matter your age… you CAN do something.

What is your typical exercise routine like?

Currently, I walk a few times a week and utilize my Fitbit as motivation to increase my distance. I also still use my arm bike in addition to a recumbent bike, yoga, and isometric exercises. My routine varies from day to day. Some days I’m not able to do as much as I would like to because of chronic pain from my disability, but as I always say, "Something is better than nothing!" I sit on a stability ball at times and just make figure eights or I "bed dance" using just my upper body. It all started with lifting shampoo bottles in bed as part of physical therapy, and I’ve come a long way since then!

In what ways have your eating habits changed?

I have a few "~Indyisms" that I live by. Here are two that give you an idea of how I approach eating now: "One slice of pizza always has less calories than two" and "If you got a flat tire, you wouldn’t run around the car in a frenzy popping the other three. You would fix the one and get back on the road." These two mantras significantly help me. I now stop eating before excessive damage is done and can prevent a binge with these thoughts.

I eat less processed food, more organic food, more real whole food, drink more water, count my nutrients with my tracker, make sure to get enough protein and take my supplements.

I also like to say: "Life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now." "You don’t have to be thin to act thin."

What advice would you give to someone either just beginning or hitting a rough patch in their weight-loss journey?

Forgive yourself easily and treat yourself like you would a good friend or a child. Track your food and exercise; it really helps more than anything you can imagine. It helps you see that you are screwing up far less than you think you are and it also serves as a confessor. Once you write it down and confess your food sin in your tracker, you are forgiven, so move on.

How has your life changed since losing weight and improving your health?

I went from specialty catalogs to large size stores, and now to normal stores for clothing. I went down in both wheelchair and walker sizes. I can use a seatbelt, wear a swimsuit, fit in a booth or theater seat, and go on a plane! I feel confident and like a fighter now. My husband and I have a much better relationship now, and this helped me become much happier. Having much more support and less stress was very freeing, I could start discovering myself without as much fear. I also felt free to try new things, explore my emotions and express myself in a new way. I want to fight for every overweight person out there to have that second chance at life that SparkPeople gave me. I now see myself in a whole new light and have hope again. Now I’m a Certified Life and Health Coach rather than a terminally disabled person in bed. I am no longer trapped in one room waiting to die. I’m happy to live!

Those are just the tip of the iceberg of the lessons I learned while losing over 200 pounds. My Spark mail can get pretty backed up at times, so if you don't hear back from me, write me at Bethd101@comcast.net. If you REALLY NEED someone to talk to that gets it, my text number is 317-964-3202. I would be glad to hear from you.

Join me on Team ~Indygirl and NewSparkDebbie

Member Since: 1/18/2008

Fitness Minutes: 67,851

My Goals:
Lose 25 pounds a year on average
Focus on healthy habits, not the scale.
210 by 2019

My Program:
Tracking and Healthy Habits

Personal Information:
Beth Donovan
Bethd101@comcast.net is my email
317-964-3202 for texting

Other Information:
New Beginning!
New Mindset!
New Focus!
New Start!
New Intentions!
New Results!
~Beth Donovan's new mantra

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