HEALTHY LIVING
06/30/2014 08:28 am ET Updated Jun 30, 2014

With The Help Of A Support Group, Danielle Gilmore Lost 158 Pounds

Danielle Gilmore

Name: Danielle Gilmore
Age: 30
Height: 5'8"
Before Weight: 378 pounds

How I Gained It: I began compulsively eating and overeating at around age 9. My family moved into a neighborhood that had a small candy store within walking distance of my complex. I made multiple trips every day to and from that store. Every little bit of money that I received was spent on sugary candies, sodas, chocolate and potato chips. That habit followed me into my teens and adulthood. During my second year in college, I met and moved in with a guy who was a culinary arts student preparing to become a chef. In our first full year of living together, I managed to gain just shy of 100 pounds and lost just about all the self-respect and dignity that I thought I had.

Breaking Point: I started working for a non-profit organization in February 2010, where I met a gentleman who had been a clean and sober member of a program for individuals who struggle with drug addiction for more than 20 years. One day, I was venting to him about my frustrations around my appearance and relationships, and he turned to me and said, "You think and act with food like I used to think and act with heroin!" He suggested that I attend a support group meeting that addressed food addiction issues. I took his advice and I've been a grateful recovering food addict for close to four years now -- and he's still my mentor to this day.

How I Lost It: My physical recovery didn't occur overnight; in fact, I spent the first year with the support group wondering why the heck I was there. But gradually I started weighing and measuring my food, eating smaller portions, moving my body more regularly and following the suggestions of long-time members of the program. I had to admit that I am a food addict who has spent the majority of my life using food as a prop. I ate when I was happy, sad, angry, tired, frustrated, content -- you get the picture. Now, I eat three well-balanced meals a day, nothing in between, no sugar and none of the binge, trigger or trouble foods that I ate excessively in the past. I share my food with a sponsor (also a support group member). I attend at least two meetings a week. I also exercise for at least 30 minutes daily.

Moving my body every day is extremely vital to my life! I did my first 5K challenge last summer. The whole race took place on a muddy field with obstacles and ropes galore! I regularly walk and talk with friends that are also looking to make healthier decisions and add more activity to their lifestyles. I ride my bike regularly. So far, the farthest I've ridden is 14 miles, and I'd like to get up to 20 this summer. I have a new appreciation for life, and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to live it to the fullest. It's my absolute passion to share the message of hope with anyone who's looking to make lifestyle changes. I firmly believe that willingness and a little action (no matter how small) goes a long way. I am humbly living proof!

Current Weight: 220 pounds. I'm about 30 pounds away from what my physician considers to be a healthy weight for my height.
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