Welcome to what is going to be a very special edition of Carol's Corner. But first let's get my usual picture stuff out of the way. We're at my daughter's in Pa. and this picture was taken out back by their patio. I thought the tree made a good backdrop for this picture. Calling this ” Taking a Summer “Scroll”. Lest you wonder, the scroll as in the scrolling design on the shirt, taking the place of the word stroll.

And my usual FitBit Combo pictures.

Tonight you're in for a special treat. Your are going to read and see pictures of Beth Donovan's incredible journey, one of courage and perseverance . So let's begin with a picture . You know how they say a picture is worth more than a thousand words. Well you be the judge.

Before I tell you her story in her own words I asked her for answers to a few questions that I wanted to include in the story. Beth's journey thus far took 6 years of active losing and 4 years of plateau and maintenance. Her highest weight which she tells in her story was 460 pounds. Today she is 236 pounds with her next goal being 199 pounds and then who knows. So here is the amazing story that is a priveledge to be able to share with all my readers. Thank you so much Beth. If this can't help someone out there I don't know what could. You have so much to be proud of and I am in awe of you.

Beth's story in her own words.

Life is happening now, not 10 pounds from now.

Beth Donovan's No Weight Loss Surgery, No Crazy Diets, No Exercise Story, Of Joy on a Journey:

Pounds lost total: 224 and counting

I don't have an abundance of willpower, nor am I a mega strong person. I am definitely willful and strong-headed, but those aren't exactly the same things. I've tried my whole life to lose weight, yet I gained 100 pounds every decade topping out in my 40's at 460 pounds. The diet clinics love me. I have a lifetime membership to one. Others caught for 2-3 go rounds, while a major one caught me for over ten.

I will burn with brilliant passion and perfectionism first, but a slip up meant to me that I was a bad person and I had failed. This perfectionist outlook led to bulimia in my teens and 20's. While it kept my weight somewhat in check, it made me miserable. I had to be perfect, period. My goal? Unrealistic. I wanted to be a size 5/6. I was never meant for that. I was meant to much smaller than the 460 pounds I arrived at in my late 30's, however.

I have low thyroid(slowed metabolism), fibromyalgia, a degenerating spine, herniated discs,pinched nerve bundles, arthritis, knees needing replacements, and clinical major depression–and the list continued. For several years, the pain and depression were too much for me. It's hard enough to be motivated when you have severe pain, but depression with it was completely crippling, leaving me bedridden and wheelchair bound. I resigned myself to life in my bedroom, where lying down hurt less. Really I was practicing avoidance. I didn't have to deal with the snickers, stares, comments, or pictures being taken with camera phones. I also no longer had to deal with the crippling pain as long as I was in bed. In staying home alone, I missed human interaction so badly that I would call the crisis line crying.

My husband became a caretaker. When I say that it makes me cringe. He had to help me in all aspects. He is still my caretaker, as I am still disabled by my illnesses after losing so much weight, but it has made things more manageable. By staying in bed and not moving and allowing my husband to take care of everything for me, I was perpetuating my own unhealthy lifestyle and losing the chance to walk, shop, work…I remember giving up my choices. That's actually what living an unhealthy life is about.

(We'll break here for some more pictures and then continue).

I chose for myself not to have weight loss surgery because it is stomach surgery, not brain surgery. I am an emotional eater. When I went to the classes to prepare for possible surgery, I realized that most people there still had the same mindset-they were hungry. They complained about wanting to continue to eat after being full,craving things they knew were unhealthy choices, and not wanting to exercise. I was already at that point. That's when I told myself that having my stomach cut open wouldn't fix my particular problem. According to my best friend who had her life saved by the surgery,”If you have to ask the question of when you can eat normally again…the answer is never.” Your whole lifestyle has to change after surgery, just as it does without surgery. I am for surgery as a last resort.

I fired my medical teams who all though that being overweight was the sole source of my pain and problems. WHAT was causing the pain? It was severe! I couldn't move. When I finally got it diagnosed by somebody that listened, I had herniated disks, slipped disks, bulging disks, pinched nerves,spinal stenosis, degenerative disease, arthritis,fibromyalgia, 2 knees needing replacing because they are bone on bone, shoulders both needing surgery and the list goes on with metabolic and depression issues. My doctor prescribed in home physical therapy because I was in too much pain to leave the house and frankly, too big to move.

I started my first movement with lifting shampoo bottles in bed and rolling my ankles, followed by just lifting my legs from a sitting position off the side of the bed. It didn't seem like much to me, in fact it hurt a lot, but it seemed useless at the same time. What were these small movements going to accomplish? I wanted to walk again. My PT instructor told me that every move strengthened me for my next. It did. Soon I was standing from a seated position and doing small steps and yoga in bed. I used an arm-bike for cardio. Eventually I was able to walk again to an extent.

I eat more naturally now,more whole foods ( natural single ingredient foods like a banana or a potato instead of a chip). I try to steer clear of processed foods, but I still do eat them at times. I use smaller plates and put my big plates up,where I can't reach them. And I do eat out once or twice a week, pre planning it on my online food tracker so I don't get off track when I get to the restaurant. When I order fast food, and I do, I order one size smaller than I actually want to order. I split meals with my husband if we are out many times. These are all just some of the changes that can be made as you are ready, and there are many more, but they need to be sustainable for the long haul. Anything you can't do for the long haul, won't yield permanent results and you'all end up right back up where you are now. So be careful which changes you make, and don't starve yourself.

( Another picture break before you hear the rest of Beth's story).

Beth your face just glows now. The happiness I know you feel really shines through. Now we conclude the rest of Beth's story.

I've lost on average .5-1 pound a week during my shedding phases. This has allowed me the pleasure of enjoying life without making the excuse of ” I can't do that, I'm on a diet.” I'm not. I'm doing what I'm going to do the rest of my life…I'm taking care of myself.

About the loose skin-I did have a tummy tuck, just between my groin and belly button, as I had three hernias being pulled out with colon attached to them by the loose skin. It was a medical necessity and insurance did pay for it. The rest of me is what you see, surgery free. I drink a lot of water, exfoliate, eat high protein(not to be confused with low carb), use coconut oil to moisturize and exercise as I can, even if it's just 5 minutes at a time on painful days.

As you lose weight, you learn so much about yourself and it's a little funny how some of your likes and dislikes change…It's like rediscovering who you are. Enjoy it. Play with it. Try new things and be adventurous. Seize life if you do get a second chance. I'm here to tell you that they exist!

Thank you so much for supporting me on my journey! It makes all the difference.

Beth Donovan

Now for some last pictures before I conclude this with my ending remarks.

Pictures really can say it all can't they?

So beautiful Beth! I wish you continued success on your journey. You truly are what inspiration is all about and I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share your amazing story with my readers.

People it doesn't get any better than this, and stay tuned tomorrow. I have another great feature story for you in my next edition. Is that cool or what? Till next time, God Bless.