132 Pounds Down, 'I Have Nothing to Lose But the Weight'*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
"Ryan, there's a story inside your heart that people need to hear," said Annette Plante, a registered nurse and fitness trainer from Meriter Home Health in Madison, Wisconsin. "And that story is that you have believed a lie all your life. And the lie that you've believed is that you are not valuable and that you are not worthy of being loved and accepted for who you are."

When the scale read 800 pounds, Ryan (SparkPeople.com member MADTOWNBUDDHA) decided it was time to change his life. Hundreds of pounds from his ultimate goal, you might think that Ryan feels depressed and overwhelmed by the journey ahead of him. But that couldn't be further from the truth. His positive attitude is infectious and he's made real progress in just a few months. And with the help of SparkPeople, his hometown, and Annette, his home health nurse, he's well on his way to reaching a healthy weight for the first time in his life.

Recently, Ryan sat down with WISC-TV in Madison to share his story and ask for help. ("A lot of this seems to be about being willing to let people in," he says.) We wanted to share Ryan's story with you because we think he is a true inspiration. If you have trouble viewing the video below, visit the Channel3000.com website.

After seeing this video, we immediately reached out to Ryan to offer our support and to learn more about his journey. We think that his can-do attitude and progress so far is nothing short of amazing. While Ryan is the one asking for help, we think that he is going to help so many more people by taking this journey himself and serving as inspiration that they can do it, too.

I had the opportunity to interview Ryan via email last week. Here's what he says about his a-ha moment, his workout routine, and how he maintains a positive attitude.

Coach Nicole: It sounds like reaching 800 pounds was your "a-ha" moment. Was it the number on the scale itself or something else that triggered you to change your life?
Ryan: It was absolutely the number, I could not believe that my weight had gotten so high, I was devastated emotionally and when my doctor said that my most recent blood work showed that I had developed diabetes, that was it. Things needed to change way before this, but that was my turning point—even though at that time I had no idea on how to make these changes on my own.

CN: How has asking for help made a difference in your weight loss this time around? Do you have any advice for others about seeking support or asking for help?
R: My fiancé took the initial critical action by getting me hooked up with a local hospital's home care agency. Since we started working with them, and allowing these changes to happen, it has become crystal-clear that any success I'm having is credited to a team of people, not just me. I really want to be successful with this, and surrounding myself with loving, supportive people who know how to help me get there has been key!

CN: Many overweight and obese individuals struggle with exercising because it can be painful, uncomfortable or tiring. In the video, we see you exercising under the direction of your nurse/trainer. What are your workouts like and how often do you exercise? What advice do you have for people who struggle to get active?
R: I've made a lot of progress in these last few months with being able to move more, feeling comfortable on my feet and mentally becoming friends with exercising. I am currently doing sit-ups every morning (I do them on the edge of my bed), keeping my core tight, breathing, helping my back muscles and getting a nice warm up to get up and do my walking cardio. I do 5-8 laps back in forth in our apartment building hallway, each session shakes out to about 100 yards on my feet, so a football field—not as much as many people, but I'm going for consistency and endurance burning. I do this every day. Later in the day, I usually do either some weight training sets with dumbbells and/or resistance bands.

I have to always remind myself that I have to push myself to do more, but also to balance that drive to lose all my weight by next week with the reality of my situation. Steady consistent progress so I won't get burnt out or injure myself, so that I can keep going. I try to look for all the progress I am making instead of focusing on what I can't accomplish YET. I would just say that making these new habits, folding them into my busy day-to-day life, needed to be at the top of my to-do list—period. Having a plan, feeling fired up and just starting to try and move more is how I started. I had to accept that this is for the long haul and what I'm learning now is just like training for the future. So I try to exercise every day. My trainer has told me to take one day off and also to work at mixing it to avoid getting burnt out.

CN: What are some of the small, simpler changes you made that have made a difference in your lifestyle and weight loss?
R: Well, I eat. Sounds crazy, but I never used to eat multiple meals each day, so a big change has been starting each day with breakfast and eating when I'm truly hungry. Being able to identify genuine hunger cues took a little time. I'm also drinking plenty of water and moving as much as I can. Tracking my food every single day helps me learn to understand more about what my body needs for fuel.

CN: Beyond losing weight, what are your bigger goals? How will weight-loss help you achieve these goals and dreams? Does it help to focus on the bigger picture rather than the weight loss alone?
R: Big goals would be to get healthy enough to expand my business life and be able to afford a modest home with an in-ground pool in a beautiful, warm climate. It helps to look ahead and dream, and feel the hope growing in me that if I can be successful with changing my life and losing all of this weight...there's probably not much I can't do in my life!

CN: How do you maintain such a positive attitude?
R: I've been through a lot in my life and I've always been an observer, looking at people that seem happy despite life's ups and downs. It helps to look at everything I do have going for me instead of everything I'd like to be different. There's just no other way to be. I have to keep my head up, don't get me wrong. I do struggle with getting discouraged, sometimes a little bit each day, but I've made it to the other side of a lot of really painful stuff in my life. So in my mind, there really isn't anything to be scared of anymore. I have nothing to lose but the weight!

CN: How has SparkPeople.com helped in your journey?
R: SparkPeople has been a huge tool. It has provided me an anchor in this whole process. I really try to use it for everything it has to offer more and more. I've gained some new SparkFriends that consistently support me and I've done my very best to share my day-to-day happenings honestly and openly. SparkPeople has given me an outline, a framework to learn, to track and see my progress and a real encouraging place for me to huddle up with other people who fighting the same battle. I could never get it done on my own, but by being an active member of SparkPeople, I get to tap into that extra strength and hope I never had on my own.

CN: What is the biggest obstacle or setback you've overcome so far?
R: Just mentally sticking with it every day. For a month or so at the start, I really had no faith in myself. Today, I trust that by following the plan and trusting the process, I can and will be successful getting healthy and losing weight one step at a time. It's still my biggest obstacle, but I'm able to navigate my way through the crap my head tells me and make the healthy choices today. Huge—absolutely huge—for me!

CN: Anything else you'd like to share with the people who are reading this?
R: Hang in there. Don't give up no matter what. Push yourself. Give yourself a chance to learn about how you can change, ask for help and make a solid decision to be tenacious. Go into this new beginning with clarity, clear thinking and some compassion for yourself. You are going to struggle; it's going to be hard and confusing. But if you expect that going in, it's a little easier to roll with. I have a long, long way to go and by no means do I think I'm qualified to be telling anyone anything about how to do this, but this has been my experience so far. I've lost 85 pounds since Sept. 2009 and 132 pounds since Jan. 2009. My A1C has come down from 11.6 in Sept. 2009 to 6.2 as of early Feb. 2010. My blood pressure was 112/68 last Thursday at my weekly weigh-in. All of those changes help me believe that the change is real, I can continue making progress…it's just going to take some time.

Can you relate to Ryan's story? Does he inspire you?

*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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Positive attitude and never giving up! Your story is such an inspiration! Report
CECELW 1/25/2020
that is awesome Report
OPTIMIST123 9/14/2019
Truly inspiring hope your journey is still going well🤗 Report
THINCPL2004 5/14/2019
That is totally awesome!!!! Very inspired by your story!! Report
Great attitude. One does need to expect hardships along the way, and one just keeps on going. Kudos! Report
Congratulations Ryan on your weight loss! You're awesome and I am positive that with your healthy attitude you will meet your goals. Report
"I had to accept that this is for the long haul and what I'm learning now is just like training for the future." was one of your quotes. How well I can relate. Bravo for you. You're an inspiration! Keep on keeping on. Report
WHAT an amazing story! I love that he is so real and allowed himself to be interviewed mid-way through his fitness journey. It helps people to see that it's about the path you are on, not always the end game. Report
Hey Ryan, I hadn't checked on your progress in a long long time. Great to see your progress! Congratulations you have done real well. This is wonderful! Report
This article is 10 years old! Can we get an update? Report
Oh my goodness, such an amazing inspiration!! Report
Ryan, you're such an inspiration. Report
You can do it! Report
You have made a great start, Ryan! Keep up the good work. An inspiring story to many. Report
Congrats! Report
Congratulations. You are such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your story! Report
Quite a feat! Report
way to go Report
Great article Report
Great article Report
Great piece! I hope you're still Sparking! I wish you happiness and peace of mind in your journey to better health and fitness! Report
Inspirational! Report
What an inspiration you are!!!!! You make it sound so worth the effort. I love SP and all the informational articles, blogs, videos and awesome inspiring Sparkers that encourage and inspire those around them!

Thank you for sharing your story! SparkCheers... Great Job!!!!

Nola Report
2 thumbs up!!! Report
ryan, your story was very moving and exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Report
Saw you on the Channel 3 news this morning. Rock on! You are amazing and and inspiration! Look forward to hearing more about how you are doing. Report
wow! ryan! keep up the hard work! you are worth it!
you are doing great!
i go to water fitness class 2-3 times per week and it is a good thing!
good health to you! Report
How Inspiring!

I must disagree with you on one thing however . . . you credit your success to your team of supporters but I don't think you are giving yourself enough credit! It doesn't matter how many people you have helping, YOU are the one that is making the change in your life and YOU are being successful! Your humility is to your credit but I think you deserve a big WAY TO GO RYAN! Report
Hello Ryan I want you know we SP are behind you and truly an inspiration to us.
Keep it up and take one day at a time. You are definetly in prayer! Report
You are amazing! And over a hundred pounds lighter because of your own efforts and hard work! Keep it up. You are doing great. Report
Thank you for sharing your story with us :) Report

Congratulations on your intestinal fortitude! Great work and wonderful attitude. God Bless, and best of luck on you new life journey!

Bonnie Report
I can totally relate to Ryan. I have lost 118 lbs, so far. It really is reminding yourself that this is a journey that you are on everyday of your life. Some days may be harder than others, but in the end, it is worth it. Way to go Ryan! Report
Wow, Ryan! You made my day! I've really been struggling with getting my health back in control and kept using the excuse that being 100 pounds overweight with arthritis in my back, hips and knees and constant pain in my feet made it difficult to exercise. After reading your story, I realized I have absolutely NO excuse. If you can do it starting out at 800 pounds (and I'm sure it's painful for you as well), then I can make it a priorty, too. Thanks for sharing your story. I've added it to my favorites and will follow your journey and can't wait to hear about your progress.

After I get back from food shopping, I promise I'll spend at least 10 minutes on my recumbant bike. Thanks for the motivation! Report
Ryan, thank you so much for sharing your amazing story! You are doing so great in such a short period of time! I think we will all have days where we get discouraged but we can't let that take over..we have to look at what we've accomplished so far. There is no doubt that you will achieve your goal because you have such a great attitude! I'm so proud of you for being willing to open up and share your heart with the rest of us!
Keep up the good work! You are such an inspiration to me and so many others. I am excited to be able to keep up with your weight loss journey on Spark People. I'll be praying for you along the way. You are awesome!!
Simply amazing, and oh so strong! Ryan, I wish you all the success in the world.! Report
Wow you are on an inspirational journey. Thanks for much to you and your team for sharing the story. Report
Ryan, good luck on your journey! Nothing is impossible as long as you take a chunk at a time. It's the journey that's most important, the destination is bragging rights! Report
Thanks for being so real & transparent and for sharing your story!!! You ARE an inspiration. You ARE a valuable and amazing human who deserves the best! I pray you have continued success on your journey! Again, THANK YOU! Report
good job Ryan....glad you are doing so good.....you are truly an inspiration.... Report
WAY TO GO RYAN! You are an inspiration to so many already. I wish you success in your journey and I believe you will reach your goals! Report
Ryan:) Thanks for sharing your story with us you are awesome and you are doing great keep up your great work you are being heard we are all here for you & knowing what you are going though you are and inspiration to me thanks. Report
Hi Ryan,
Just wanted to let you know i will be thinking about you and sending positive and encouraging thoughts your way.
Keep on going, this is a journey that you will succeed.
I too am on the same journey ..
=^..^= Report
You really are an inspiration. Congratulations on your progress so far, and best of luck getting the rest of the way there! Report
Ryan congratulations and thank you for sharing your story to date. Annette Plante should also be congratulated as she realized what a very valuable person you are and certainly worthy of being accepted and loved. Through your efforts we can all have more faith in our selves. Report
Great work Ryan. Thanks for sharing your story and your positive attitude. Maizey Report
I myself too, have been through a lot in my lifetime. I'm only 30 years old, I have two busy busy boys, and yet I'm not fullfilled. I have always had issues with my weight. I currently weigh over 320 lbs and have gained over 100 within the last 4 years. I keep telling myself tomorrow, or next week....maybe someday. I sometimes cry because I selfishly didn't want my kids to get made fun of cause their mom was "big". I am not using the "f" word.....I dislike that one greatly. I have made unhealthy choices which allowed me to become the way I am at this moment. I was reading your story and every time I try to think I can do it, something in my head says "you'll never get there, it's too much". I am glad to have read your story for it has given me faith, hope, and has encouraged me. My boys don't need to suffer because of my choices....I'm a paren't they're going to have to "suffer" anyway with my choices. I was picked on because of my size as a child, and my mom was a bigger lady so I was picked on for her choices. I do NOT want my kids to go through that pain and carry that with them. I just want to thank you again! Hang in there and you are doing a great job!!!

Thank you,
Melissa Report
Don't look back and keep going!!!!! An inspiration to all of SP. Report
Go - Ryan - Go! I'm so impressed and encouraged by your determination, success and positive outlook! This is just the beginning of wonderful changes in your life I'm sure. Report