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How I Stopped Yo-Yo Dieting For Good

By Sheila on Feb 04, 2013 10:00 AM in Success Stories

Gain weight, lose weight, repeat!  This was the pattern that Ddaldridge had experienced several times over the years.  Then being warned by her Doctor about the state of her health, she decided right then to stop the yo-yo dieting and gain control of her eating habits and has successfully lost 70lbs.

She contacted us through our Share Your Story feature, and provided the following answers to our questionnaire.

1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an "Aha!" moment?

Let me just say that I've been overweight for most of my life. My "Aha!" moment happened back in April 2012 after my routine annual doctor's visit. I was having horrible digestive issues (had been on Rx antacids for 2+ yrs) aches, pains and fatigue. I always just closed my eyes when it came to the "weigh in" part of the physical exam. I told my doc to NOT TELL ME my weight, but she did mention that I had gained 10 lbs since the last visit! I was FLOORED, because I really had not changed anything about my eating habits in the past year....however, I did turn 40 in July of 2011. After my blood work came back, I got the phone call:"You need to lose 20 lbs or go on meds for your cholesterol!" and "you have H. Pylori bacteria in your need high dose antibiotics for 15 days." H. Pylori, if untreated, leads to stomach ulcers and cancer. YIKES!

I realized then and there that I needed to take control. My dad died of a heart attack when I was just 10 yrs old...he was only 52. My mom died of a stroke when I was just 27 yrs old...she was only 61. I have two young children: an 8 yr old son with autism and a 6 yr old typical daughter. I NEVER WANTED THEM TO KNOW THE PAIN OF LOSING A PARENT when they were still kids (like I did)....THAT became my HUGE MOTIVATION....staying around for THEM! Both of my parents lived unhealthy lifestyles...both smoked...both drank...both were at least 100 lbs overweight...both never watched what they ate...they never exercised...and I WAS BECOMING THEM.

2. What other "diets" (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?

I have gained and lost the same 78 lbs SIX DIFFERENT TIMES in my life, starting at the age of 21. I was most successful with Nutri-System back when they had the physical centers. But, the problem was I never ate anything that wasn't Nutri-food. I never LEARNED HOW TO EAT! Once off their program, I found myself binging on all the foods I avoided for 9 months. I did Weight Watchers twice...only losing about 20 lbs each time. I got tired of tracking points and writing down every spoonful of food that entered my mouth. Plus, they promote a lot of their pre-packaged sodium-laden frozen meals, etc. I've also tried "going it alone" and had some success, but got quickly bored, as my focus was always on what I "couldn't" have and restriction instead of moderation.

3. Please describe how you reached your weight loss goal. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude?  Did you implement any other strategies besides Calorie Count?  What was the most important change?

I am only 20 lbs away from the goal I set back on April 25th, 2012. I have lost 70 lbs so far using Calorie Count's tools and from reading the inspirational posts. I simply CHANGED MY THINKING first, and counted calories second. Weight loss is a by-product of a COMMITMENT TO HEALTH. I simply calculated my base metabolic rate, and subtracted 1000 calories per day from that number to lose (on average) 2 lbs per week. I have not yet incorporated formal exercise only diet modification so far.

4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.

Calorie Count has great tools and insightful articles & blogs! I didn't really set up a gallery or anything, or even post much, but just knowing it was here when I was feeling down or frustrated was a huge help!

5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?

5% of weight loss/ health is what you put in your mouth....the other 95% is IN YOUR HEAD. I had to COMPLETELY fix my relationship with food and re-vamp my lifestyle. You see, for the past 7 yrs or so, I was DEPRESSED because I was basically forced into the 24/7 care of a disabled child. I simply could not be there for him the way he needed me to be AND have a career (I am a lawyer) at the same time. We have very little family parents are dead and all of my husband's family members live over 2 hrs away. I did not realize it at the time, but SUGAR and white flour/ carbs were like anti-depressants for me....unhealthy foods raised my serotonin levels, calmed my anxiety, and became my "solace and friend." Divorce rates among couples with a child diagnosed with autism are 90%. I had such horrible anxiety dealing with my son's vomiting, his behaviors and the social isolation that ensued. I turned to food for comfort, for joy, for feel GOOD, even if it was only for 20 minutes of the day! The hardest part in this journey was learning to replace food with life experiences that brought me JOY when so much of my life was bleak and hopeless for so long.

I also have not yet found a way to incorporate exercise. I literally hit the ground running at 3am and collapse in bed around 7pm. I MUST find the time to start, but I am responsible for so much here on the home front there is very little time!

6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?

Once I fixed my thinking and relationship with food, I saw results immediately. Food became a source of fuel to live my best life, nothing more. A great book I read was Marianne Williamson's "A Course in Weight Loss" which deals with the mental side of weight loss. I also used Facebook to become a leader....helping others achieve their weight loss goals.

7. How do you prevent relapse?

Accountability! After I lost about 40 lbs, I started a public Facebook page called "Weigh Smart Diet Divas" where I post daily articles/ blogs/ etc. I also used Facebook since DAY ONE as my accountability. I would weigh myself once per week...every Wednesday morning, and post those results on my status every two weeks. Knowing I had an "update" or a "Wednesday weigh-in" coming up really helped keep me on track. I also started a CLOSED "Diva group" on Facebook with about 24 of my closest friends who wanted to join me in reinventing themselves! It is a huge source of support and encouragement! I also continue to use the tools on Calorie Count and read the blogs/ articles that inspire me.

8. How has your life changed now that you've lost weight?

Well, I'm not exactly at my goal yet (20 lbs to go) BUT now that I'm 70 lbs lighter, I'm completely off the antacids, I no longer have issues with my feet swelling (or need arch supports in my shoes!) and my cholesterol is back to a healthy and acceptable range. I have TONS of energy to keep up with my kids....and lots more HOPE. I no longer shop in the "big women's" stores and can walk into any dept store and fit into normal sizes. Most importantly, I HAVE FOUND THAT MY DREAM IS TO MOTIVATE AND INSPIRE OTHERS. I want to write a book. I want to LEAD others to better health!

9. How long have you maintained your current weight?

For 9 mos now...but I'm still losing.

10. What tips do you have for other dieters?

  • Become familiar with your favorite foods and their nutritional values. KNOW the caloric count of everything you eat, and rather than cut out certain foods, CUT BACK (eg portion sizes). WRITE DOWN your calories daily on a post-it note. When you hit your limit STOP. Become MINDFUL about EVERYTHING you are eating. Eat "CLEAN"....limit processed/ frozen/ fast foods and SUGAR..... LEARN about nutrition! Stick with whole grains, lots of lean protein, fresh fruits & veggies.
  • FIX YOUR MINDSET. 95% of weight loss occurs in your HEAD...the other 5% is what goes in your mouth. It is all math, pure and simple. Get rid of the negative thoughts. Choose your WORDS carefully....for example, I was never "on a diet"...I was engaging in a "healthy lifestyle re-vamp." Be willing to do a lot of self-examination about why you became overweight to begin with.
  • BECOME ACCOUNTABLE to someone other than yourself and ENLIST THEIR SUPPORT! I used Facebook and Calorie Count a lot. VOW to weigh yourself no more than once per week at the same time of day under the same conditions. Jot it down on an index card along with notes (eg I write "day 25 of cycle" knowing that I will be retaining water weight from PMS or "had salty meal at a restaurant" yesterday )
  • GET A DREAM. I realized that I had lost myself in becoming a mother. The intensity of raising a child with autism forced me to take the focus off of myself for a while. I can proudly say that my son is pretty close to "cured" now (meaning all traces of ASD behaviors are pretty much gone). He is still delayed, but now that we're through the worst of it, I can take my foot off the gas pedal and focus on my own goals and dreams more.
  • MAKE THIS A LIFESTYLE NOT A DIET. Have a "BIG WHY" that is more about how you look or wearing a certain size clothing. My "big why" became being around for my kids and watching them grow up! I want to see them get married, go to college, drive a car, and maybe have families of their own someday. My parents never got to.


If you would like us to feature your success story, you can submit it here. The most insightful stories will be featured on this blog and in the weekly "Success Stories" newsletter.




Thank you for the wonderful success story! I found myself in so much of it. This was such a inspiration for me. I encourage you to continue on your lifestyle journey ( not diet).

Thank you for your inspiration! Great work taking care of yourself!

WOOHOO! Nice job and congratultions. Love the tips!

It's so admirable that you were spurred to change for your children. A lot of people just let it go on, and eventually pay for it. Good on you!

Thanks everyone!  Believe it or not, that picture of me in the black top was taken on Jan 1st of 2013....I've since lost another 12 lbs (82 total!) and weigh 136. (down from 218!)  I have 8 lbs to go to reach my goal of 128 then on to maintenance!  I am a huge "words of affirmation" person (My Love Language) and all the positive comments REALLY help me stay motivated!  So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!  Hugs, "Donna the Diet Diva"

Congratulations! I love to see that having a child with ASD did not hold you back, like I have seen in a lot of families with children with ASD.  It's a tough road, but the pay off of seeing the behaviors decrease is such a joy! I've worked with the angels with ASD for 3 years now. It is so important to do things for YOURSELF and you did it girl!

I feel so inspired by your story it really spoke to me , thank you so much for sharing and for the great tips. 

This story is very similar to mine.  I have gained and lost the same 70 lbs about 10 times in my 36 years... starting when I was just a teenager. 

I also started in April and hit my goal in September.  

You should feel intensely proud of yourself!  At the end of my weight loss journey I received a piece of advice that made the difference of regaining this weight or not.  I want to pass it on to you because I feel like it is the key to maintenance.  70 % of weight loss comes from diet, but 70% of maintaining your weight comes from exercise.  If nothing else, get 30 minutes of cardio 6 days a week.  Part of moving from a diet to a lifestyle is accepting that you are occasionally going to eat a slice of cake or have a fattening dinner.  These workouts will make the enjoyment foods you eat occasionally inconsequential!

Congratulations on your success!  What a wonderful achievement!  :)  

Thank you! I needed this story today. Weighed myself this morning and I'm back up to 102 kg. Ugh! I have been 97 kg and felt so good and then somehow, I stop being mindful and there I go again. I'm still 10 kg below my heaviest weight, but I'm not nearly where I think I need to be.

I've thought I had finished being a yo-yo and it is not because I enjoy being in yo-yo mode. I'll warrant I have lost 200 pounds or more in my lifetime and consistently let it come back.

So for a moment I am angry. And I have resolved to start again. Perhaps I need to set some rules I can maintain just as I did when I quit smoking.

Those rules then, were:

  1. If I couldn't do my work well, I could start smoking again.
  2. If I gained weight I could start smoking again.
  3. If I became impossible to get along with for myself and others, I could start smoking again.
  4. If I became a nervous and anxious wreck, I could start smoking again.
  5. And if I needed to start smoking again for any one of the above reasons, I never needed to quit again.

I don't have my list yet for losing weight, but number 5 on the list above has certainly been very helpful. I have a mental picture of someone in a retirement home sitting outside the door, before the rule was no smoking within 9 metres of a door, sucking with her limited energy to get as much nicotine to inhale each time. I do not want that to be me.

Thank you for your story. I hope you will soon find a way to incorporate exercise. Does your son ride a bike? Could you take rides together? Does your son have any activity interests you could do together? Maybe he could take the responsibility to encourage and support you as you walk, play, or find some other way to move. Good luck on those last 8 pounds. With activity, they will be less resistant to leave you!

What a beautiful testimony!  You have succeeded in spite of those 16-hour work days.  You said you weren't exercising much yet.  But you may be exercising more than you think.  I walked over a mile inside my house one day doing housework.

I suggest you purchase something like the fitbit zip or just get a pedometer and wear it.  You may be walking more than you think!

You can set up strength training at home just buying a couple weights and a bench and  a few bands.  Plenty of youtube videos showing how.  20 minutes twice a week firms the muscles and increases metabolism, even if very few calories are burned.  You can correspond with me and I will share my setup if you like.

Congratulations and thanks for inspiring all of us! 

Sheila, this is really wonderful news to hear you figured all of that out yourself (and with the help of the awesome posts here on  You've done an amazing job and I can only see you moving forward from here.  

I understand how it can be hard to find time to exercise.  But, just like you did with your food, you can do it with exercise. You just need to figure out what days and times it fits, and make it a lifestyle choice.  Once you stick with it for a few weeks (about 6) you'll start feeling the great effects that it has (better sleep, more energy, skin improvements, stronger with everyday activities) and  you'll actually start to like doing it! 

We need at least 120 minutes of cardio per week (that's only 4x 30 minutes) and we also need a total body strength training routine (2x per week) which, doesn't have to take long and doesn't require much equipment at all.  

Here's my total body strength video playlist that you can use (and others as well). It's basic, foundational strength exercises and that I use for my clients, and myself. Of course I change it up to keep it interesting but you don't have to. If you do nothing else but that for your strength routine, you'll be doing really well! 

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Congrats, Sheila!  I agree with you and I also was able to change the way I think about food.  It no longer controls me and from what you have written, it seems the same for you.  This is what makes your weight loss different this time.  I hope you can find time for a little exercise here and there as said above.  This will make a big difference in how you feel about yourself, and will also help you get those last pounds off.  You can do it!

Congratulations on the success of all you lost but more importantly all you have gained!!!!!!! 


Congratulations! What an awesome story, thanks so much for sharing. Good luck with your journey.

Way to go! It is eerie, your top weight was the same as mine and your goal weight is 2 lb less than mine. It encouraged me to keep going. 


I wonder about your subtracting 1000 calories from your base metabolic rate. That seems like a lot, and if you are losing 2 lb a week with strictly diet, no exercise, your intake might be on the low side? I'm not sure. I encourage you to look for ways to fit exercise into your life. It seems like your schedule is a beast, so maybe during the day- lunchtime walks or after work bike rides with your kids? I cannot even imagine how demanding it must be to care for your two children, one of whom with autism. But as a mother of 4 children under the age of 7, I have discovered that exercise makes me better able to meet the demands of my life and be more available and calmer with my children. 

"I turned to food for comfort, for joy, for feel GOOD, even if it was only for 20 minutes of the day!"

Sheila, I can totally relate to eating to escape from boredom/anxiety/etc.  In fact, it's my biggest challenge.  I have 3 young children and a few part time jobs to try to help make ends meet, and nearly every day I find myself "escaping" from the noise, stress, etc. by eating something that undoes the whole rest of my day.  I was wondering if you'd please share with me your NEW methods for "escaping" the craziness and feeling joy and comfort? 

Thank you!  Congratulations on all of your successes!  You have truly inspired me! 

Thanks everyone for the kind words again!  My name is Donna and I'm the lady in the feature story above.  And you are ALL CORRECT about exercise.  My husband is now on board with me, regaining his health too...He's 6'3" and weighs about 230lbs.  His goal is to get down to 190-195lbs.  He says he no longer wants to be the only "unhealthy" one in the family!  Bwhahahaha!  He promised to buy me a Natural Runner Plus elliptical (used and refurbished) once I hit my goal weight in a few more weeks.  Before I had kids, I was a true "gym rat."  I actually LOVE exercise, it's just that my schedule really is a hinderance right now.  The elliptical is the only piece of cardio I actually used at the gym (that and the treadmill every once and a while).  If I can have one at home, I think I could fit in the cardio alot easier.  I even own a set of hand weights I'll have to dust off.  Maybe when HE hits HIS goal, I'll buy HIM a universal weight machine!!!!!!!

Thanks again for all of your love and support.  Every one of your encouraging comments mean so much to'll never know the depths of my gratitude truly.

Lots of hugs,

Donna "the Diet Diva"  =:)




Donna, I apologize for looking in the wrong place in the article for your name!  My question above was actually meant for you :)  If you have a few minutes to spare in the next few weeks, will you please share with me your new methods for "escaping" for a few minutes each day?  Thanks!


Sure Shallin, I'd be honored and happy to share with you how I "escape."

I am the stay-at-home mom of 2 school aged son will be 9 yrs old in May and is in the 2nd grade (he's the one with autism).  My daughter will be 7 yrs old in June.  She's in the first grade.

I get up between 2:30-3am EVERY MORNING, EVERY DAY.  I have always been an "extreme morning person" so this is no big deal for me.  Even in high school, I'd get up at 4am to study for tests and do homework.  My brain functions best between the hours of 3am-12noon.  After that, I'm TOAST.

I am "on the go" from 3am-8am, when I am cooking breakfast for the family, walking and feeding my 2 dogs, showering, etc.  When I get home from driving the kids to school, I spend 20 min in my fenced-in back yard, tossing a frisbee to my dogs.  I do this EVERY MORNING except on weekends and when it rains.

I sit on the computer for 1 hr catching up on e-mails, Facebook, etc.  This is "business time" but also allows me time to catch up with friends, read articles, see what's going on in the news, etc.  It is quite pleasurable to just SIT UNINTERRUPTED.

Around 9am-12:30pm, I am "on the go" running errands, grocery shopping, cooking, doing laundry, sheets, towels... cleaning, "prepping" for b-day parties/ kids projects/ holidays, etc.  I am the CEO of my home.  I also feed and walk the dogs again in here.

I sit again for another 45 min in carpool line at school.

After school it's "on the go" out lunchboxes, re-packing for next day, more laundry, cleaning...going with my kids to their extra curriculars twice per week....walking dogs again, etc.  I also try to devote 30 min to each child of uninterruped time every night...where we read, play cards, or just talk about the day.

After that, if I'm not too exhausted...I'll READ for 10-30 min...usually Regency romance novels...but lots of self-help/ guru/ Spiritual-type books too.  Some nights, I'm just too tired.

On weekends, I try to sleep in AFTER the morning routine is done, but I'm giving haircuts, going to church, etc.  I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Star Trek "Voyager" (I try to watch an episode on Netflix every now and then when I can.  It's great escape-ism.

While in car-rider line, I call girlfriends and chit chat, surf the net, or just read.

So I get quality time for myself...but connecting with others is what really lights me up.

Hope that helps!


Diva hugs,




By the way everyone....I recently started another closed Facebook page called "Weigh Smart Diet Divas- GROUP TWO."  We will limit to 30 members each.  It is a PRIVATE CLOSED fb group and if you are inclined to join, we'd love to have you! ; HUGS!


No disrespect intended, and maybe I'm just reading something into this that's not there, but is your husband not that supportive of your goals?  Is there a way that he can supervise your son for and hour or so each day so that you can work out?.  Do you have room for exercise equipment so you can work out at home? 

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