Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

How I lost 140 pounds: Despite my medical challenges, I learned to love my gym time

Diane Fraser, before and after.

Diane Fraser

44, Vancouver

Pounds dropped: 140

Story continues below advertisement

My turning point: I see those shows where people eat bags of cookies and dozens of burgers – that wasn't me. My weight gain was at least in part the result of medical conditions – I have an underactive thyroid and a list of medical challenges that affect metabolism, balance and co-ordination. So I was never at a perfect weight, but the biggest jump was an 85-pound weight gain over eight months when I developed an eye problem where the treatment was prednisone, a steroid known for side effects that can include sudden weight gain.

My turning point was stepping on the scale four years ago and seeing the number staring back at me: 328. I had a lot working against me – but I knew I had to lose the weight, somehow, some way. I just knew I had to change something – there would be no giving up.

My method: I had never consistently exercised partly due to the fact that my medical conditions always made it difficult for me to do anything that required balance and co-ordination – any sports were difficult for me and I learned to avoid anything that would get me too easily frustrated.

For years I made stabbing attempts at exercise and used diet to try and take the weight off and really, this never worked in the long term. With each effort, I ended up heavier than I had ever been in my life.

I started by hiring a personal trainer at my local gym once a week to give me the motivation and training I needed to learn how to exercise properly. The one-on-one teaching worked well for me and I started to gain confidence. I learned to love my gym time and made it a part of my weekly routine – something that I could not live without.

My trainer never lets me get bored and always challenges me to go harder, longer and stronger. I now work with my trainer once a week and come to the gym on my own three times a week. I needed someone to teach me how to move and give me the confidence that I would get to where I wanted even if it took me a while to learn.

And I learned to eat better too, of course: I opt for fresh, whole foods, and I pay attention to how my body responds to the things I eat. I have learned to cut out or reduce foods that don't feed my energy. If I ever get prepackaged foods, I immediately check the salt content and avoid anything that is too high in sodium.

Story continues below advertisement

After changing food and exercise, my transformation was largely mental: I began to view my change less as a need to lose weight (that was a nice side benefit) and more as a need to learn how to move again.

Of course any time I weighed myself and saw a drop I was ecstatic – but I was even happier every time I could do something I struggled with in the past: Every time I walked a bit longer or took the stairs when I would have previously opted for the elevator, that was my big success.

I slowly lost the weight in increments over a period of four years. This wasn't about a Biggest Loser-style quick drop in 12 weeks, but four years of looking at the long-term gains and real lifestyle changes.

With all these medical issues working against me, I have still lost 140 pounds, 81 inches and 26-per-cent body fat. But I am not done yet.

My biggest takeaway from this long journey: You are the only one who puts up obstacles. Just because you aren't doing it as fast as someone else does not mean anything.

My kryptonite: I still have rare days where I eat chips or chocolate – or even spring for a doughnut or a great slice of cheesecake. There's nothing wrong with that – it's about balance, and when you have balance you can succeed.

Story continues below advertisement

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Tell us how you lost it:

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Editor in the Opinion section

Amberly McAteer is an editor in the Opinion section at The Globe and Mail. She has been a homepage editor, online editor and community editor in Features - including Life, Travel, Style, Arts and Books. She's written columns about her quest to run a 10K and find the perfect dog. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨