Success Story: 'I Feel So Much Better Now!'*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Name: Michelle Howard (MOMMYOF2RN)
Weight Lost: 135 pounds
Hometown: Pelion, SC
Occupation: Registered Nurse

I gained weight through lack of exercise and an extremely poor diet with tons of soda and fast food. Before I had my first child in 1996, I weighed 144 pounds.  After delivery, I weighed 220 pounds. I chalked it up to part of having a kid. Life went on, and I started the ups and downs of weight loss. I got back down to 180 pounds and was fairly happy with myself.  In 2004, Baby #2 came along and I went right back to 220 pounds. By that time, I was involved with a very controlling spouse who feared that if I lost weight I would leave him, so I stayed very heavy through our whole relationship.

In 2010, that relationship ended and I toyed with the weight loss idea.  I joined Curves and started watching my calories; I even tried the Atkins diet. Then on Thanksgiving 2010, I had a gallbladder attack and wound up needing surgery.  My pre-op weight was 297 pounds! I was in shock.

I felt miserable. I always felt like less of a person because I was so large. In crowded areas, I always felt that someone was looking at me or making fun of me.  That kept me from trying new things.  Looking at my vacation pictures from the beach and Dollywood in 2011, I couldn’t believe that it was really me. The photos were horrible, but I just hid them instead of doing anything about them.  Then, when my size 2X scrubs didn’t fit comfortably anymore and I had to buy a size 3X, I felt horrible.

My biggest “A-Ha moment” was Thanksgiving 2011, when we went hiking in the mountains. I got so short-winded that I actually got to a point where I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it back.  It was very scary.  As a registered nurse, I see how poor lifestyles affect people every day, and I did not want to wind up like most of my patients. And as a mother of children who were heading in the same direction, I felt I owed it to them to get healthy and teach them to be healthy as well.

After the hiking incident, I joined a gym that is owned by the hospital where I work. They offer a huge discount on personal training to employees as well as membership reimbursement as long as you attend the gym 10 times per month for 12 months. So I figured I had nothing to lose. I met with my trainer two weeks after joining and started working out with her twice a week.  She led me in the right direction as to what to eat and how to incorporate exercise into my life.

After two months, I finally got up enough courage to try an aerobic weight training class. I liked it and began incorporating that into my routine. Then, I tried Zumba and LOVED it.  I gradually kept trying new classes and new exercises with my trainer. I just recently added running to my routine thanks to SparkPeople's Trick or Treat Trot Virtual 5K training program.

My trainer told me about, and from that day on, I have been very active on the site. My favorite thing is the nutrition tracker. I was so shocked at first by how truly bad my diet was, and how some of the so-called "good for you" foods weren’t really that good for you. I also loved reading the articles and blogs. Recently, I have become more involved in the message boards and I enjoy the interaction with other members.

Now, I feel so much better and I have a lot more self-confidence. I can take the stairs without practically dying! I don’t get short of breath anymore! My low back pain is gone. My new-found healthy lifestyle has also paid off for my children.  My oldest has lost 64 pounds and my "baby" has maintained without gaining. They both love being active with me!

Way to go, Michelle!

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

Have you lost weight and kept it off using We'd love to share your story. Email us: sparkpeoplesuccess (at) gmail (dot) com

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


Woohoo! Report
I was inspired by your story. I am ready to make a change. Joined the walkabout challenge. Report
Congrads! I've just lost 91 LBs -I now know what fabulous feels like.Keep up the good work Report
that is truly awesome Michelle. I am sure you are very proud of yourself and your kids. you are an inspriration Report
Huge congrats to you and your success!! Report
That is so great. I am down 94 pounds in my own journey and have more to go. I'd love for any of you to join my journey. Report
Very Inspiring ! Report
Very inspiring! Having a child has definitely changed my view on being healthy, I love that your kids are healthy & thriving and modelling after their amazing Mom. I hope to be able to do the same. Report
Michelle, I am 1 month into eating low carb and healthy. Do you have any pointers andvwhat worked best for
Michelle that is so AWESOME! I love it that your kids are being active too! I am getting my 3 kids & hubby on board as well! I am praying my Neuropathy will go away though so walking will be much easier! CONGRATS - u look Marvalous Daaarling! Report
Congratulations on your new lifestyle, you look fabulous! Report
Congratulations on your new lifestyle, you look fabulous! Report
Congrat's Michelle! I also am a nurse and have had wt loss challenges my entire life. When I was a single Mom of my adoptive son, I saw a picture of me holding him at his first birthday and I thought, "I'm all he has. I'm going to die if I don't take care of myself and get healthy." I chose to do gastric bypass and was 298 lbs and had a BP of 172/114 preop! I was successful losing 130 lbs and kept the majority of it off working out 6-7 times a week. Then I got married and had my daughter. I got back up to 240. 2 years later my husband didn't want to be with me anymore. I dropped to 190 in a couple mths b/c I was a mess. I decided to have my tummy tuck b/c of the loose skin and having to "start over" in the relationship dept. I was 184 with a flat stomach, but out of shape. Over the past 4 years I've gotten back up to 242. Today, I made the choice to change, PERMANENTLY. I redownloaded the SparkPeople app tonight and read your story. Thank you! You have helped me move forward. I will lose this weight the right way, and FOR GOOD! My daughter is also programmed into my bad habits and I need to change that NOW. Thank YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Report
You've faced a lot of challenges but overcame them and persevered to the finish line! Great motivation for those of us not so close to the finish line! Report
GREAT JOB!!! Your story is so close to my life, it's scary. Thanks for the motivation, it helps me to know that it is possible for me to do, just have to keep at it! :) Report
As a RN as well, I know how hard it is to tell my stroke patients that they need to do lifestyle modification to prevent future strokes. I am sure they wonder where I get off telling them to change their lives as I stand before them at 311 pounds. Your pictures and success story are amazing. I watch the videos of Zumba and I hope that one day I can do that since it looks like so much fun! Report
You have worked hard. Congratulations! Report
Hi Michelle! I am also a nurse, and I have felt like a fraud when encouraging patients to stop smoking, adhere to a med regimen, etc. I work in hospice now, and I see how people's lifestyle choices affect them at the end of life- dramatically, somtimes. It scares the crap out of me! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!!!! Report
I feel the same as the previous 2 commentors... I have a one year old and I don't think I've been in any pictures with her since she was born. It's so sad. I want her to be able to look at pictures of us together when she gets older... Which is why I'm here. Thank you for sharing your story, Michelle! Report
I'm in agreement with FOURTEEN2FOUR… your comment about "feeling less than a person" really resonates with me too! So much that I just dread going to the grocery store (or anywhere else) and running into someone that I knew **before I gained so much weight**. I avoid my friends because I'm ashamed of how much weight I've gained… and I, too, avoid having my picture taken when at all possible. Recently, my son graduated from Boot Camp in the Navy and while I was SO, VERY PROUD of him, i didn't even want to have a picture taken with him. I did, because I knew I would always regret it if I didn't but I HATED doing it and wouldn't even look at it afterwards.

Michelle, thanks for being such a GREAT inspiration! I have 127 pounds to reach my goal weight… reading your story gives me hope that I can do it too. Report
Your comment about feeling like "less of a person" really resonates with me, as well as being horrified by photos! I NEVER allow anyone to take my picture, since I've gained weight. It's very sad for my kids, because it's as if I don't exist. :-( Report
What an inspiring story, makes me want to do well also. Report
Way to go! Report
How wonderful that your oldest child has released 64#. That is fantastic. I love that you have gotten down to where you are and that you are healthy. As an RN you can certainly tell your patients to "DO WHAT I DO."
Do listen to the lectures on YouTube by Richard Bernstein M.D. as he has had Type 1 diabetes since he was 12 and he is a healthy 78 now, although he was told he wouldn't live past 42. He treats mostly Type 2 diabetics and he says all obese people can benefit from Metformin as we have Insulin Resistance. His book "The Diabetes Solution" is a very interesting book. I know I have Insulin Resistance and I've learned so much from him. Report
Very inspiring! I could related to so many of the feelings--surprise at my own weight, dislike of my own pictures, concern for what I was teaching my son, unhealthy marriage, etc. Thanks for helping to create a picture of what the future can be for me too. Report
That is an amazing story. Good for you for setting a good example for kids. I was going to skip my workout this morning until I read your page. I changed my mind and I am off to the gym....THANK YOU Report
Good for you!! I love that you shared the "before" feelings that so many of us have and sometimes cannot quite put into words. I'm just getting back on track and truly appreciate you taking the time to share your success-it inspires me that I, too, can reach my goals. Thank you- Report
Awesome! Wow, what an uplifting, inspirational story! I love it and am so happy for you!! Report
Congrats!!!! Report
Congratulations on your new body! It looks GREAT!!! Your story is sooo inspirational! I have alot of weight to lose myself and I was just introduced to this sight a wk ago. Your story has inspired me to lose the extra weight after 2 babies. Thank you for sharing! Report
wow!!! Congrats Report
congratulations! you look awesome. Lots of hard work! Report
Thank you for sharing your story! I was overwhelmed with emotion when I read that you had the same feelings of shame, guilt and being looked upon as less of a person that I feel myself. I have come to realize that it's ok to need and ask for help but there is nothing easy about this journey. You make me believe I can do this too. THANK YOU! Report
Congratulations! You look fantastic! Report
Congratulations!!!Thank you so much for sharing your very inspirational story. It sound so close to my life(My name is Michelle,I had a very controlling ex, my gallbladder causes me problems,and I feel very self- conscious in crowded places.) When I was pregnant I weighed 330. When my son was around 6 months old, my mom took a picture of me at the beach and I felt really sad when I saw my picture.I now weigh 286, I'm slowly getting there. Love Zumba and Shaun T's Hip Hop Abs. Just reading about your story gave me hope,Thank you. Report
thank you, this has really motivated me to get back on track and lose the weight I have left to loose. Report
Really appreciate your honesty. So hard to look at ourselves and be dissapointed. Harder still to make the necessary changes. You are an inspiration, on so many levels, and you look absolutely fabulous Report
Really appreciate your honesty. So hard to look at ourselves and be dissapointed. Harder still to make the necessary changes. You are an inspiration, on so many levels, and you look absolutely fabulous Report
Thanks for your story..very inspiring...just starting my journey...10 pounds down 100 to go. I will be remembering you!!! Report
Congratulations Michelle! What an accomplishment! " I felt miserable. I always felt like less of a person because I was so large." I feel like this everyday, so what a inspiration to read your story! Report
awesome job... keep it up... love the new look Report
Great job!! You worked hard and it shows!! Report
Thank you so much for sharing your story!! It's reading blogs from people like you, that keeps me motivated--you look wonderful, and have come SO's truly inspiring. Thank you!! Report
I'm so happy for you and can totally identify with your experience! I was 147lbs before I got preggers and then 225lbs after I had my son. Now I've made it to 181.6lbs and am feeling so good. It took a year for me to make it to this point so far. It seems like my body was telling me that it hated the excess weight I had put on. My hips used to give me so much pain and my legs would go numb so often. I had lower back pain and tingling in my arms and upper back. Now since I returned to sparkpeople, I have lost much of the weight and your story has encouraged me to keep going. God bless you and I'm glad you got rid of that ex-husband. There's nothing like the feeling of freedom and the removal of dead weight. Report
You truly are an inspiration to many who have been in relationships like yours. You took charge of your life and made the necessary changes, benefitting not only yourself, but your children as well. Way to go Michelle! Way to go! WooHoo! Report
What an inspiration! So glad for you!
you are amazing way to go Report
awesome attitude.....
Thanks for sharing. This is a great story. Report
Way to go ~ you've done yourself proud !! Report