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Anna Shives: Down 60 Pounds and Counting

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I hope my story can inspire others to find their way to health and wellbeing

Anna Shives: Down 60 Pounds and Counting

It’s hard to consider myself a “Success Story,” as I know my journey has been a long one and I still have a way to go. I do know that the McDougall program has given me the tools and the missing pieces to reach that journey’s end.

I was never really a “thin” girl, I was always a little overweight. Even as a young competitive athlete I carried more weight than considered healthy. College I was at my healthiest – I ate less and walked more. Things went downhill when I moved into the working world and got a computer job. Sitting for 8 hours a day did nothing to help. I still managed to do okay and not gain a ton of weight.

Things really got out of hand when I got married and we were working on starting our family. I became pregnant right away when we decided to try. Things didn’t go as planned and our first daughter came early at 22 weeks. She passed away while giving birth, as she was too small to survive. The doctors told us we needed to wait at least 6 months before trying again. I had gained about 20 pounds during the pregnancy and due to the depression and anxiety, I didn’t lose any of it before we found ourselves six months later. We decided to try again and became pregnant again quickly. This time around we were monitored closely by our maternal fetal medicine group, and they found I needed to be on bedrest to deliver the child safely. Placed on bedrest at 14 weeks, I stayed in bed until our son was born at 34 weeks. Again, I gained about 20 pounds. The 20 weeks in bed had also taken a toll on me, and my mobility was greatly reduced. I worked on recovering, but exercise was not an option at that time. So, I started trying “diets” to lose the weight. First, I tried Atkins, and like many, I initially saw results. I managed to lose about 20 pounds but I felt weak and exhausted. I was a new mom, so that was part of the deal.

A few years later we decided to try again for another baby. We knew I’d likely end up on bedrest, but I had accepted that as part of getting my children here. Getting pregnant again I had to drop dieting and went back to eating the standard American diet. I gained 30 pounds. I was on bedrest from 24 weeks to 38 weeks when the baby came. The extended time in bed had sapped all my core strength. I was so weak I couldn’t even turn over in bed without help from my husband. My joints were also weak, and even just walking hurt. I felt pretty hopeless.

I went back to Atkins to try and lose weight, but this time I couldn’t seem to lose anything. I only gained more. So, I switched to calorie counting, but that didn’t work either. Even restricting to 1200 calories a day, I’d never make it under 250 pounds. For years I would try and try but never had any luck. I would give up and gain more.

The year I was invited to join the McDougall Immersion I topped out at 293 pounds. I promised myself I would NOT hit 300 and I would find something that worked. I tried calling my employee help line for suggestions on how to help with my constant back pain. Since I couldn’t lose the weight with diet, I had to find a way to move more without hurting myself. I was determined because my blood pressure was borderline hypertensive and I had gestational diabetes and did not want that to develop into full blown diabetes.

When I got the paperwork for the McDougall Immersion, I had somewhat of an idea about what it was, because I had met someone who attended a previous year. I wasn’t sold on a lifestyle of no meat. Not that I ate a lot of it to begin with, but the little I did have, I enjoyed. I really wasn’t sure I could commit to the program, but with the help of a friend I realized, even if I could learn a little, maybe it would be the tipping point I needed.

Being the curious person that I am, I started to read and learn more about the program that day. I went to the website and read and watched the success stories. I watched the free lectures, then watched Forks Over Knives, and scoured YouTube for any information I could find. I was amazed at how many success stories I could find all over the internet about Whole-Food Plant-based Oil Free (WFPBOF) eating. I was 100% in. The week I got to California I weighed in at 277.4 pounds. My BP that day was 156/97. My bloodwork came back: Total cholesterol 130, Triglycerides 97, HDL 31, LDL 80, and my A1C was 5.5. By the end of the week, I had lost 2 pounds. My blood pressure was down to 118/79 and my total cholesterol dropped 16 points. Most importantly, I felt so much better.

I have been on the McDougall program now a little over 5 months. I have lost 61 pounds. I am down 4 pant sizes. I have lost 4 inches off my waist, 9 inches off my hips, and 2 inches off my neck. I have lost nearly 7% of my body fat in that time and I am only about a third of the way to the goal weight Dr. Lim and I set back in California. Every day I hurt less and less and breathe easier. I have more energy. My mind is clearer and more centered. Even my meat-loving hunter husband is down over 30 pounds just from sharing meals with me!

As I said at the beginning, I don’t know if I personally consider myself a success story YET, because my story isn’t over, but I do know I will reach my goal. I will be healthier than I have been in my entire adult life and that is thanks to the tools The McDougall Program has provided me. I am so thankful for the gift I was given by this program. I am looking forward to where I will be in a year or two from now. I hope my story can inspire others to find their way to health and wellbeing.