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Name: Betty Lou Sweeney
Before Weight: 250 pounds
How I Gained It: I had been on diets my whole life. I'd lose weight, and then gain it back, plus more. It had become a vicious cycle for me. I must have tried every diet out there, and they all worked, I just couldn't keep the weight off.
I was an unhappy child due to being raised in more than 12 different foster homes and living in and out of the orphanage many times. I wasn't adopted until I was 15 years old. In that time, I had been abused many times. My friends were animals and food.
As an adult, I loved sweets and fast food. I would consume six donuts or rolls on the way home from work, just an hour's drive. I ate ice cream bars, lots of fried chicken, fish and chops, with all the trimmings. My potatoes were heavy with butter.
I never felt attractive and was told so often what a loser I was that I believed it. I never liked myself, except for those times when I had gotten down to a size 10 or 12. I could never maintain it, so it did nothing for my self-esteem.
Breaking Point: In May 2009, I got another bladder infection, but this time the infection went to the sac that surrounds the heart. In treating that infection, I reacted to the medication and my kidneys shut down. I put on 30 pounds of water weight overnight and was having a very hard time breathing. I became septic and my temperature soared to 106. At first, I reacted to every medicine and got sicker and sicker. Finally a medication kicked in, and I started to get better. My doctors told my husband that they almost lost me. I felt my family deserved better than this.
How I Lost It: I am a registered nurse, so I asked one of the dietitians at work to give me an eating plan they would give to a newly-diagnosed diabetic who needed to lose weight. I wasn't diabetic yet, but knew I needed to keep my blood sugars stable. On that day, I changed the foods I ate, the way I cooked them and my portion sizes. I got down to about 210 pounds when an Anytime Fitness center opened near my home. I joined, and over the next couple of months I got down to 200 pounds. The weight was coming off so slowly, so I engaged the help of a trainer. When we started, I couldn't get up from a chair to a standing position on my own. Everything hurt from my arthritic joints. Dave, my trainer, was very patient and encouraging as he slowly helped me get better.
Today I am able to do a pull-up (never could do those, even as a child!), 20 push-ups and sit-ups. I have run many 5K races and two half-marathons. I set a Guinness World Record for the longest time in an abdominal plank in 2011. Shortly after, a man broke my record, but I believe I still hold it for women. I feel younger than I have in years. I have pushed through several injuries, including a dislocated shoulder, a fractured left hand, a pulled calf and, most recently, a torn hamstring.
Now, I eat raw vegetables, fresh fruit, yogurt and protein powder to help me get enough protein in to sustain my workouts. I eat chicken breasts with no skin, fish or very lean pork. All meats are either baked, broiled or fixed in a hot air oven where all the fats drip away. I never eat sweets these days because when I did I found I craved them for almost a month. It wasn't worth the scare it put into me. I don't miss them and can be at a party and not even feel tempted anymore. I have learned to love the taste of the food itself without all the crap I used to put on top. I have more energy, I'm not sluggish anymore and I now like myself, which is something I never did for 69 years. My self-esteem has soared. I can now talk in front of a group and be at ease, as I feel I have a story to tell that could save someone else's life. I have never been happier in my life. My trainer is like a grandson to me, I love him so much. Who knows where my life will take me!
After Weight: 135 pounds The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.
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