How Two Valentines Lost 285 Pounds Together

Dani and Rich, after losing a combined 285 pounds

By Dani Arnold, a member at SparkPeople

Weight loss may not be the first topic that comes to mind when you think of Valentine's Day. But there's really no better way to say "I love you" than resolving to get healthier, live longer and look better for your spouse, significant other, child or someone else close to your heart. In the case of couples, several studies have shown that it's easier to lose weight with your partner as well as for them. I should know. My husband Rich and I lost a combined 285 pounds together.

Dani and Rich, before

We've been together almost 16 years now. We've been through some hard times--losing family members and working long hours at multiple jobs to pay the bills. We've always done it together though, which has made the load easier to bear.

But about three years ago, we looked down and realized we were both at our heaviest weight ever. I had put on a ton of weight after my mom passed away. We worked too much, took terrible care of ourselves, and weren't spending quality time together.

So we made a commitment to each other and our marriage to make better choices.
We started small, by improving our food choices and watching portion sizes. Then I started using SparkPeople to track foods and learn about nutrition.

We lost a little weight, and decided we needed to get moving, too, with something we could do together. We joined a Couch to 5K program, which helps novice runners work up to three miles within nine weeks. As a former Marine, Rich was confident he was capable of the program, but I had never been an athlete and wasn't so sure. I found it brutal at first, but he supported me all the way and convinced me I could do it. Before I knew it, we were running three nights a week together.

His struggle was with food and portion size. Since we both love to cook, we started spending more time together in the kitchen. We knew to be successful long-term, we had to find ways to not only enjoy our food, but also enjoy the process of preparing it together, understand what we were eating, and how to best prepare it. (Get slimmed-down comfort food makeovers.)

When all was said and done, we had lost about 285 pounds. I had gone from 266 to anywhere from 133-137 (depending on the day) and Rich had dropped from 385 to 225-230 (depending on the day). Rich's cholesterol fell from dangerously high to normal without medication. My resting heart rate is at an all-time low. We've able to maintain our weight because we made a permanent transition from bad habits to a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Going through the weight loss together, leaning on each other and learning about ourselves as we went, has brought us closer than ever before. We share a bond that goes beyond husband/wife/best friend. We've seen each other at our absolute best and worst, and come through it with a new appreciation for "us." We get to enjoy long hikes--stunning scenery, clean air, and some of our best heart-to-heart talks.

Read: 20 Active Date Ideas

I have always respected and loved Rich for who he is, for everything from his service to our country as a U.S. Marine, down to his integrity and kind heart. He's smart, and he genuinely cares. I knew all of those things, but others were often hidden behind the extra pounds. As we've traveled down this new path though, I've watched Rich grow personally and professionally. I've seen him take on new challenges at work (including starting a new job with more responsibility that he is excited and passionate about) and allowing others to see more of the incredible man I have always known and loved.

Rich has also helped me see myself differently as well. He reminds me of my accomplishments and allows me to see myself through his eyes. His view of me as a smart, confident, beautiful woman is both flattering and inspiring, and has helped me continue to grow into this new improved version of me.

I'm grateful we've able to use our journey to strengthen our love and our marriage, and I hope our improved health will give me many more years to spend with my favorite Valentine.

Related content:

Meet Nick and Birdie, a Doctor & Mother of Five, Who Lost 250 pounds Together
Dieters Find Success with a Spouse

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