In November of 2009, my husband proposed to me. We were out at a restaurant and a stranger at a nearby table was kind enough to take photos of us on her phone. If you saw them, you would see that I was crying with happiness. The only problem was that when my now husband Chris put the ring on my finger, I could barely get it past the knuckle. Chris had modified a ring that I had previously worn on that finger. The ring used to fit me perfectly, but now when I finally got it on, it made my finger swell up so much I couldn’t get it off again.

I was 240 pounds and I couldn’t put on my engagement ring. I decided to stop eff-ing around and make a lifestyle change.

I joined Weight Watchers. A friend helped me start a running regimen. I trained for and completed a  10K, but I found it unenjoyable and stressful. It took me an hour and a half to complete the distance. The distance is long enough even for a fit person, but with all the extra weight I was carrying, it was a real strain to make it to the finish line.

Still, I kept going. I started doing yoga, I joined a gym and I changed what I ate. I started to see changes—not overnight, but a little at a time. I’ve learned to push myself at the gym. I can now run 3 miles on the treadmill in a half hour and it feels really good. I won’t lie, in the beginning it made me feel tired and cranky. But, you reach a point where all of a sudden you feel like Rocky.

I once saw a documentary in which a very overweight woman said that her body was never hungry, but her brain always was. That really resonated. I had to learn to re-train my brain. While before I would have had a sleeve of crackers as a snack, now I was training my body to be satisfied with the natural sugar in a handful of grapes. As I shifted my eating habits, an amazing thing happened: I started to experience hunger again. Not the kind of hunger where my brain tells me to keep eating even after I’ve finished a huge meal, but the kind of physical hunger where my body was telling me the tank is empty, it’s time to eat.

My husband never asked me to lose weight. If you asked my him, he would say, “It doesn’t matter to me what my wife weighs, I love her.”  But, as I lose weight and exercise more,  I know he has seen me getting happier and that makes him think, “Sweet Jesus, keep losing weight if it makes you happy!” I am so lucky to have found somebody who always saw the inside me and always loved me. That made me want to get healthy and live longer. I want to start a family at some point and it has been important to me to start working out before I become pregnant.woman standing in workout gear looking happy and healthy

Now that I have lost weight, many things have changed. Airplane seats aren’t so uncomfortable. I can get on a roller coaster, sit in the back seat of a car without feeling cramped. I sleep better now. I can buy clothes off the rack–I don’t have to go to the special store.  I used to pay extra to park my car as close to my destination as possible, but now I don’t mind the walk.

In the last two years and two months, I have lost 82 pounds. Weight loss is a journey and to keep going, you have to celebrate the small victories.  I lost one pound? Way to go! A quarter of a pound, a half a pound? It all adds up. You have to learn to be kind to yourself. It’s not about fad diets. It is about knowing yourself. It is about becoming mindful.


  1. Maureen O'Keefe says:

    You look fantastic! You’re an inspiration! Keep up the great work! You’re smile couldn’t be any brighter!!


  2. Heather says:

    Amazing dedication! Thanks for sharing. Reading your story inspired me to take a closer look at my “snack” choices. Time to get real and drop my last few pregnancy lbs. I did really well until the holidays. Time to stop as you said “stop effing around.” I wish you continued success with your fitness goals. Have fun and enjoy your family planning!

  3. Sue says:

    I’ve known you for a long time, and I also know that inside is very cool…but right now, outside is hot!!!

  4. Julie says:

    Leigh…. You are an amazing woman.

  5. Kayla Kirkpatrick says:

    GREAT story! A HEALTHY you is an AWESOME happy ending – and new beginning!! Thanks so much for being so brave! Change and sharing your success is scary and I honor you for taking the plunge and wanting to inspire and encourage others!! I always thought you had great energy, but this kicks it up another notch! Please keep sharing!

  6. sharon frey says:

    Great story! You look fantastic. I’ve said it before…you really should have been a writer!

  7. Dianne James says:

    I’m making sure all my daughters see this. We ALL need to be redefined!

    SAve those knees and your heart. Way to go! YOu are a good writer. Love ya.

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