Success Stories - Michele

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I have worried about my weight since junior high school. I entered college in 1990 slightly overweight at 165 pounds. On my wedding day four years later, I weighed 190 pounds. A year later, I was at 206 and starting to panic. I tried a few diets, only to give up when I realized there was no way I could eat that way for the rest of my life. I threw out the scale and decided to concentrate on maintaining my weight.

A year and half later, I went to the doctor. The nurse asked me to step on the scale, and I was shocked to hear her say "236". I was very embarrassed. How could I have allowed THAT to happen? A diagnosis of hypothyroidism explained some of weight gain, but the doctor said I would have to lose it the hard way - with diet and exercise. 

A year later, my husband and I found out we were expecting a baby. Although I enjoyed every moment of my pregnancy, near the end I started to worry about my weight. I didn't gain a lot, but still weighed a whopping 251 pounds. To make matters worse, doctors weren't sure I would be able to receive an epidural if I wanted it. The weight limit for an epidural was 250 pounds. I was planning on a natural birth but wanted the epidural available if I needed it. I was terrified to think that I might need the pain relief and that it might not be given to me because I was so overweight. Luckily, I had an easy labor and the epidural wasn't needed. However, I was humiliated when the nurse said my weight in front of my husband. I had hidden it from him for years, and now he knew just how fat I really was. 

I was thrilled to lose the pregnancy weight within six weeks of my daughter Jenna's birth in October 1998. After that, the weight loss stalled and I stayed around 236 pounds for a year. It was the pictures of Jenna's first birthday that shocked me into trying to lose weight. There were many pictures of us together, and I hated every single one. I looked horrible! And even worse, I felt horrible. My knees ached when I walked, I had difficulty sleeping, and I started to have heartburn. At 27, I felt like I was falling apart.

I looked at those pictures and started thinking of all the things I wanted to do with Jenna that I would be too embarrassed or just plain unable to do because of my weight. I wanted to take her swimming, bike riding, hiking, skating. I realized if I didn't do something soon, I could miss out on all of that. I immediately went on a diet. I quickly lost 15 pounds but then started to gain again. I finally realized I could not do it alone. I asked a friend to join Weight Watchers with me. She agreed, and on January 12, 2000, we signed up and my life changed forever. It was embarrassing to weigh in at 221 pounds, but I held my head high, knowing that this time I was going to do it!

I was shocked to find how easy this plan is! The first week I lost 4.8 pounds. I was thrilled. I started walking on the treadmill and doing little things to put more exercise into my life, like parking farther away and taking the stairs. Before I knew it, the pounds were melting off. This summer I did things I never thought I would do. I took a swim class with my daughter and bought my first swimsuit since I was 15 years old. The suit was a size 14, one size smaller than the swimsuit I had bought 13 years before! I even bought a sleeveless evening gown for my brother-in-law's wedding. I'd never worn anything sleeveless in my life. I must say, I looked sensational and, more importantly, I felt beautiful.

I truly believe that this is a lifestyle change. Whenever someone asks me what diet I'm on, I say, "I'm not dieting, I made a lifestyle change!" A diet is temporary. A lifestyle change is permanent. I really believe this is an important distinction, one that will help me keep the weight off for the rest of my life.

I have had wonderful support, and I believe that support is SO important. Weekly meetings are absolutely essential. My leader, Anne, lost 80 pounds on Weight Watchers 12 years ago. She is phenomenal . a real inspiration and a source of unending support. My husband has been wonderfully supportive, enduring my endless recipe experiments and my incessant talking about points. My friends have been great, cheering me on every step of the way. Allison, the friend who joined with me, made Lifetime several months ago and yet still attends weekly meetings with me.

I have now lost 65 pounds on Weight Watchers, for a total of 80 pounds since my daughter's first birthday. I am 6 pounds from my goal. My aches and pains are gone, as are the heartburn and sleeplessness. I love shopping now and can't wait to buy my new fall/winter wardrobe!

My daughter's second birthday is in a month, and I can't help but smile at the thought of how different those pictures will be from the ones taken a year ago! 

(11/5) I found out just a few days after you put up my story that I will have to leave weight watchers. I'm pregnant! I'm sure once morning sickness sets in I'll lose those last 5 pounds! The great thing is, I'm not worried at all about gaining weight. I told my doctor about how I eat and he said that it was fine as long as I drink another glass of milk and add a protein and basically eat more points (300 more calories than needed to maintain). He was impressed that I already eat based on the food pyramid as he tells pregnant women to do that all the time. :) So that's my update! :) I'll keep you posted on how everything goes.

Just wanted to let you know, everything looks great with the pregnancy. I have had two ultrasounds

(2/18)My pregnancy is going well.  Still no word on the gender, but we're hoping to find out in March.  I have gained about 15 pounds now at just over the half way mark.  I'm trying not to think about it too much!  I know I can lose it after the baby is born. 

Up to this point, I have received over 200 e-mails from people who have read my story.  I do write every single person back, although it sometimes takes me a while to get a response out.  I have to say what an inspiration these e-mails have been to me!  I have saved every single one of them so that when I start this process again after my pregnancy, I can look to them for encouragement and inspiration.  If I can lose 81 pounds, I can certainly lose the 30 I'm sure to gain with this pregnancy!

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Photos - L-R: "before" 5/99; "before", 10/7/99; "after" photo; 80 lbs GONE!;
at my daughter's 2nd birthday party;pregnant with my 2nd child

Michele's Email

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