Family Status: Married with two children
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Location: North Scituate, Rhode Island
Height: 5 feet, 1 inch
Starting Weight: 195 pounds
Current Weight: 101 pounds
Current Waist Size: 26 inches
Donna’s Weight Loss Interview!
How much did you lose?
I lost a total of 94 pounds and went from a size 20-22 to a size 4 to 6 in pants! In uniforms, I wore an X-Large to XX-Large pants. I now wear an X-Small to Small pants! I also went from a 3XL top down to a X-Small to Small top.
When did you become unhappy with your weight?
I learned at a very young age that I was overweight and weighed 140 pounds in elementary school. When I went to middle school, I was taunted by my peers. They called me “Bruno” on the school bus and also refereed to me as “Gracie” which was the elephant in the Keebler cookie commercials. I was able to lose weight in high school, but quickly put on the “freshman 15” soon after graduating. I then married and had a baby by the age of 20. I went up to approximately 160 to 165 pounds at full-term. I was able to successfully get down to 125 pounds with diet and exercise. With my second pregnancy, I again went up to about 170 pounds. This time I tried Nutri-System for help, which got me down to approximately 120 pounds. Unfortunately, this resulted in an overactive thyroid, so I had to stop the program and quickly went back up in weight over time to at least 170-175 pounds. My job shifted to a desk job and I gained even more weight which brought me up to as high as 190 pounds at that time. I tried LA Weight Loss, and again, did the yo-yo routine and went down and then back up. I then tried Opti-Fast and went from 190 pounds down to 125 pounds, but unfortunately slipped back into old habits and went back up again to 195 pounds over time. Essentially, my weight struggle has been life-long, beginning in my youth and resulting in the yo-yo routine as an adult, culminating in a weight of 195 pounds in March of 2015.
What made you decide to lose weight?
I decided to finally lose weight for the right reasons. I began to feel the side effects which included high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain in my joints and difficulty breathing with my asthma. For the first time, I had to entertain taking medication for my thyroid. That scared me! I felt I was too young to have to begin to take medication. I took a good look in the mirror and did not like what I saw. Prior to that, I just avoided looking into mirrors. I was tired of the way I felt and looked. I was a registered nurse trying to educate patients and they were looking at me like, “Yeah, right. I should listen to you?” It is difficult to educate someone about heart health, exercise and being healthy when I was certainly not healthy and clearly not eating a healthy diet. I was no help to them or myself. I decided that I wanted to do whatever I could to be a good example for my patients, my family, and myself.
What were the most important changes you made to lose weight?
The biggest change was educating myself. I learned about tools for weight loss and had a gastric sleeve performed after much consideration. Prior to having this procedure done, I met with a dietitian, a cardiologist, and my medical doctor. I learned about healthy eating habits, healthy snacks, the importance of protein, proper portion sizes, proper nutrition, the importance of a daily multivitamin and the importance of increased physical activity and exercise. I realized my mindset was wrong. I had to commit and finally say “Yes, I can do this because I do deserve to be healthy and happy.”
What was the most challenging thing you had to deal with during your weight loss journey?
My self-esteem was the most challenging aspect. How do you go to a gym in shorts and a T-shirt and step on a treadmill in front of other people? How do you learn to step on a scale or look into a mirror when these are things you have not done for years. I didn’t do them out of fear of seeing the actual numbers and fear that I had to take responsibility for my short-comings. It is easier to avoid the issues rather than to face them head-on and fear failing again.
How long did it take you to start to see results?
I started to see results within a few months. My clothes started to fit looser. My blood pressure and cholesterol improved. I wore baggy clothes so others did not notice the results, but I did not do it for others to notice. I did it for me and it was nice to be able to zip up a pair of pants again and be able to sit down comfortably and cross my legs again!
How long did it take for you to reach your current weight?
It took my approximately 16 months to reach my current weight. Losing weight too rapidly is not healthy, and statistically, cannot be maintained. It takes months for someone to turn new choices into habits.
Did you have any issues with loose skin after losing the weight? If so, how did you deal with it?
Yes, I definitely have loose skin, especially in my thighs and arms. My neck and abdomen are actually not as bad. I can’t lie, it is a psychological issue, but I try to look at it in a positive way. I am happy to see my stretch marks since they remind me why they were there in the first place. Surgery is not an option because financially it is cost prohibitive. It would be selfish to spend thousands of dollars to have my skin removed. I can think of more important uses for the money like college education, my daughter’s wedding and food for people who have none.
How long have you maintained your weight loss and what are the most important factors for keeping it off?
I have maintained my weight loss for several months and plan on keeping it off for many years to come. I have changed, not just attempted to change. I make healthy choices now and I look at food for the nutrients they provide, not for the taste or for the act of eating it. As Richard Simmons said, and it is so true, I now eat to live, not live to eat. I have also tried to maintain my current mindset. If I eat something I shouldn’t have, it is not the end of the world. It takes more than a piece of cake to put on 95 pounds. I can have a treat once in a while, just not all the time.
What keeps you motivated to continue your weight loss success?
My motivation comes from within first and then continues for my family and my patients. I want to be healthy and I want to be successful. I want to be a good role model for my patients. I want other people to look at me and say, “If she can do this, so can I!” It’s important to believe me because it is true. I never thought I could be successful because I never let myself believe I could be successful. I was my own biggest obstacle.
How has your life changed now that you have lost weight?
My life has changed in the sense that I now have more confidence. I no longer look down when I walk. I no longer am afraid of seeing myself in a mirror or out in public. I feel like I am average and I finally blend in. I can go in a store and buy a pair of pants if I need them. I don’t have to walk around with a knot in my stomach. I can educate a patient about a heart-healthy diet and know they really are listening to what I am saying. I know that if a friend wants to lose weight and they see I have maintained my weight loss, I know they can also believe in themselves and they can be successful too because it really is possible.
Do you have any advice for others who are trying to lose weight?
Yes, make sure you do it for the right reasons! Do it for yourself and not anyone else. You need to be honest with yourself and realize you are worth it. It does not have to be a life-long dream. You should look forward, not backwards. If you had a bad day or ate something you wish you hadn’t, it is not the end of the world. It takes more than one bad choice. It takes many bad choices, one after another. The cycle can be broken and you can be successful!
How did ShapeFit help you reach your weight loss goals?
ShapeFit.com provided me with an opportunity to see that it is possible to lose weight. That by eating a healthy diet and exercising, not just pretending to exercise, you can be successful. I used to look at articles and websites like this and felt intimidated. By embracing the articles and welcoming the input, it has made a big difference!
Donna’s Weight Loss Tips!
Weight Loss Tip #1:
Change your eating habits. Focus on protein and veggies while minimizing carbs, but do not cut them out completely as they are important to your diet as well.
Weight Loss Tip #2:
Increase your physical activity. Park your car far away from the store when you go shopping. When you get inside, walk around the entire store. You do not have to be an athlete to exercise! I am not one and will never be one. Find something you enjoy and stick to it. Walk if you don’t like to run (I hate to run) and swim if you like to swim (doggy paddling is just fine).
Weight Loss Tip #3:
Portion control is key. You can eat all the healthy food you want, but too much is simply that, too much. Protein just has to be the size of your palm. You can buy a portion control sized plate on the Internet for just a few bucks (they even have ones specialized for diabetics). You don’t have to eat off it every day, but it is a great visual aid.
Weight Loss Tip #4:
Lose weight for the right reasons! Do it for you, not for anyone else or for any other reason. Don’t let anyone diminish you or your accomplishments. I have found that some people like to diminish others to make themselves feel better. That is sad, but that is also the reality of our society. Hold your head up high and be patient. Time goes by very quickly and before you know it, a year or two has gone by and you are where you want to be.
Weight Loss Tip #5:
Don’t be afraid of the scale or the tape measure. Let it be a useful tool. It is truly an objective measure of your weight loss, not just the pounds, but the inches. When you increase your physical activity you may not see a loss in pounds, but a loss in inches since muscle takes up less space than fat (pound for pound). Your clothes will fit better and you will feel better. That is the best measure! Sizes and pounds are just numbers. How you feel is what is important and what will help shape your outcome.
Donna’s Weight Loss Eating Plan!
What do you normally eat for breakfast?
Typically, I will have an omelet with egg whites, low-fat cheese and bacon. Or, a half of a Subway egg white breakfast sandwich on flatbread.
What do you normally eat for lunch?
Protein and veggies! I will have chicken, beef, spinach and broccoli. I love green beans and tomatoes!
What do you normally eat for dinner?
Dinner is more difficult. I work 4pm to midnight, five nights a week and have little time to eat. I will bring something convenient, but healthy like a chicken walnut salad, egg salad, a stuffed pepper (small amount of rice and beef), turkey, spinach or feta meatloaf. Just something that incorporates as much healthy food into a convenient meal that can be eaten on the go. I never know what is going to happen at work. Things can change on a moment’s notice and it can be a very fast-paced environment at times.
What do you normally eat for snacks?
Snacks are a must! I now focus on cheese, healthy nuts, fruit, pretzels or popcorn for a “crunchy” snack. But the key is to portion them out. I buy snack-size zip bags and prepackage my snacks. I do not eat out of a large bag because I know for me that is a recipe for disaster. Portion control is as important as making the right choices.
What type of nutritional supplements do you take?
I take a daily multivitamin (I prefer gummy chewables as I never could tolerate swallowing pills). I also take calcium and vitamin D chewables, hair, skin and nail chewables, as well as a sublingual B complex.
Donna’s Weight Loss Workouts!
What do you do for weight training?
I currently do not weight train, but I really enjoy walking outside! I will also walk indoors on a treadmill if necessary. I did join a local gym for a few dollars a month, but still prefer to exercise outside. Sometimes, I will walk the perimeter of a store or the length of a parking lot. In the summer, I like to swim whenever possible. I am not an athlete and never will be, but that is the point. You don’t have to be an athlete to be successful. You just have to find what you enjoy and do your best to stick with it.
What do you do for cardio training?
Along with walking, my cardio workouts include the treadmill, stationary bike and swimming. Most people forget that our heart is a muscle and muscles do need to be exercised to remain healthy!