Donna Cleveland, a mother of two grown children, remembers the moment she painfully realized her eating was out of control.
It came in December 2009.
“I had just finished eating my second bag, not piece, of Dove’s peppermint bark chocolate.”
It wasn’t the only sign.
“I was also having back pains after working on my feet at Dillard’s, not being able to bend over easily or stand up straight after sitting down. Sometimes I would go to bed with my stomach hurting because I had eaten too much.”
A month later she turned to Weight Watchers for help. “I started my journey to control my eating.”
She said her husband, who is quite active, gave her continued encouragement.
She began closely following Weight Watchers’ point system for foods.
“I am much more conscious of what I am eating and how much I am eating,” she said. “We (she and her husband) eat a lot more fresh fruits and vegetables and I watch my portions.”
She says she can’t look at food the same way anymore. Now she judges the value of food based on Weight Watchers’ point system.
“It’s not a diet, it’s a ‘live it,’” she said of Weight Watchers. “You don’t go hungry.”
Once athletic and energetic, Cleveland said she moved her overweight body back into the active mode. She started by making the effort to walk at least five minutes straight a couple of days a week.
“I started by walking during my lunch hour at school (she is an attendance officer at Whitehouse High School) and then began adding five more minutes every few days.”
Before she knew it, she was walking the entire lunch hour and then she and her husband began taking walks – long walks – together at home.
Weeks later she completed her first 5K walk and then a 9.11-mile walk and with her family by her side she completed an event called the “Army 10-miler.”
“I now walk four to five times a week either before or after work, as well as swim two to three days and we have included 10-mile walks in our regular routine. I never would have thought that of me.”
Cleveland has lost about 80 pounds and continues to exercise and make good choices.
“I feel better, don’t have the back and stomach issues I had when I started and instead of having to maybe go in a bigger size of clothes, I am now fitting into a size 10 – something I have never done before.”
She said she has never felt better.
“In my mind, I have always been athletic, just now my body matches the image I have had of myself.”