Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Mary Gould is 39, 5 feet 6 inches tall, and currently weighs 225 pounds. In 2015, after suffering a life-altering health crisis and gaining a large amount of weight, she was able to lose more than 200 pounds and regain control of her life. This is the story of her weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
I first noticed I was gaining weight in 2010. At the time, I weighed 150 pounds, started having pain issues, and my clothes were not fitting liked they used to. I went to the doctor, who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia but couldn’t explain the weight gain, so I learned to live through the pain.
In 2012, I felt like my life was going wonderfully. I had two boys who were my world, I had recently gotten married, and was ready to embark on a new chapter of my life. Fast-forward a few months, and I started becoming very ill.
At first, I was told it was the flu and a bad stomach bug, but after multiple rounds of antibiotics and as it continued to grow worse, I quickly realized something was seriously wrong with me. I went from living a normal life to being rushed to the hospital every day. Needless to say, I needed answers and had to find out what was causing my health issues. My answers finally came when it was almost too late.
I found out the housing complex I had been living in was saturated with toxic black mold, and it had wreaked havoc on my immune system. Once I was out of there, I went from nine months’ worth of not being able to hold more than a bite or two of food down and losing weight to the opposite end of the spectrum — constantly starving, and no matter how much I ate I was always hungry and was quickly packing on the weight. I ended up gaining a great deal.
During all of my health crises and the weight gain, my husband at the time left and I became homeless. I knew I had to do something drastic to change my life and be healthy for my children. I decided it was time to reclaim my life and become the best version of myself that I could be for them and myself. I was doing this all alone now and it was time to start.
Because I was in such poor health by this point, I had to start my journey very slowly. I was able to find temporary housing, but it had very little space or kitchen facilities, so I had to get creative if I planned on losing the weight. I started with a Crock-Pot, a small tabletop grill, and a tiny fridge. I would get meats and fresh veggies and I would stretch them for several meals. I cut out all sugars, pastas, and breads. I didn’t count calories or use a specific plan because I had few available resources, but I knew I had to make a change to reclaim my health.
I had very little space in the housing, but I had to find ways to exercise. Because I was in so much pain, it was a slow process. Each day, I would take a few steps around the parking lot of the place I was staying, and each day I would feel like taking more steps and it progressed from there. I got an exercise DVD and started increasing my efforts to have more physical activity in my life.
At first, I saw little change in the way that I was feeling but I saw my son’s face each day and I knew he needed a healthy mom and I wanted so much to keep going for him. Even on the days I felt I couldn’t take another step, I would tell myself, “Mary, the rest of your life will be the best of your life,” and it helped me push through the darkest days.
I started feeling amazing and began to celebrate the non-scale victories along the way. I was able to do things with my son that I previously could not accomplish. For several years, I had put a “do not disturb” sign on my heart and was focused solely on my wellness journey, so I had put my dating life on pause. Last year, though, I met a wonderful man who was on his own health journey, and I was now emotionally ready to pursue dating.
I am honestly amazed when I look at life now and see how far I have come. Before, I had little self-confidence and hated taking pictures of myself, but after the weight loss I was surprised at how much confidence I was gaining.
I do affirmations that help me stay focused and positive. I strive to eat healthy each day and keep fresh vegetables around for snacks. I drink water equal to half of my body weight in ounces.
I am part of a wonderful accountability group on social media that is very helpful. When I first started my journey, I was completely alone, but now I have people who I can check in with who understand.
I was introduced to some amazing health products that have helped me daily to get the vitamins and enzymes I need, which I lacked after the previous mold exposure. I have continued my healthy cooking and now incorporate portion control containers so I can see how much I am consuming daily. I have continued my exercise, starting each day with an hourlong walk.
It inspires me to have people message me and let me know that they have made a healthy change in their own lives or lost weight because of something I have shared with them. I have wonderful sons and a supportive significant other, and I want to live a long life for them, so that really keeps me motivated.
I have now became a health and wellness coach to help others along in their own journeys. I am just starting out, but I want others to see firsthand that if someone like me, who had so many challenges to overcome can do it, then they can too.
I think the main struggle is in my mind. When I don’t see the progress right away, I have to remind myself of how far I have come. When I struggle, I have to remember I am still progressing in the right direction.
My best advice is don’t give up when you have bad days. Push through the pain. Don’t think of reasons that it won’t work, just focus on why you started and why you are not going to give up!
All photos courtesy of Mary Gould.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!
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