After a hysterectomy four years ago put me in surgical menopause and I had to undergo hormone replacement, I put on more than 30 pounds. I was a size 18 and 225 pounds. I felt terrible -- physically and emotionally. I shied away from doing things I used to. I didn't like having my picture taken. I wasn't healthy and I wasn't happy.
I remember the day I decided to make a change. I had been crying in the dressing room, thinking "This is not good. I can't do this anymore." I came home and as soon as I walked in the front door, I told my husband I was done. I was going to stop making excuses and make a lifestyle change.
With the help of my doctors, I had a plan to stop the hormone replacement, eat better and move more. I got a pedometer and gradually started taking more and more steps. I watched my portions and cut out soda. It was a series of small changes that added up, and after a year, I had lost 75 pounds.
I'm a big believer in helping others, and I wanted to share my plan with others, but I didn't think I had the resources. A friend of mine had a simple suggestion, "Why don't you start a Facebook Group?"
It was a great idea. Of course my family was supportive and proud of my weight loss, but unless you're experiencing the same thing, you don't really understand what someone is going through. I had to go through my journey alone, but I could create a group so that others didn't have to. I thought about the most important part of my new lifestyle and that was stepping. Doctors recommend taking 10,000 steps a day to be healthy and maintain your weight. At this point, I was walking 20,000 to 30,000 steps a day. So I named my group "Steps to Good Health."
I'm not a dietitian, and I don't try to be. I don't even like the word "diet." The only recommendation I make to people in the group is to get a pedometer and start counting steps. I organize some giveaways and share links sometimes, but the community has really taken off. We're a support group for people who are dealing with weight issues and are on the road to good health. Men, women, teens, seniors and people from all over the world have joined. The main rule is to be positive and not knock others down. You can share your own frustrations and hard times you're going through, but you can't be hurtful to others. We have more than 14,000 members now and people always say that they love that the group is so positive. There are always people there to say "great job" and be encouraging.
After three years, we've had some incredible stories, like the man from Kentucky who lost 85 pounds and a woman from Texas who lost 80 pounds thanks to the spirit and support of our group. And it's gone beyond weight loss support to being about friendships, too. People share important things about their lives like engagements or asking for prayers for a family member in the hospital. We've also had members meet up in person. It's incredible to see. I've cried at my computer reading people's stories.
As for me, I'm maintaining my weight and getting my steps in. I can't imagine my life without the group. They inspire me and teach me new things all the time. And we're always there for each other, every step of the way.