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LIVESTRONG Success Story: Ashley Donahoo

By Kelly Plowe, M.S., RD, CSSD ; Updated July 18, 2017

Two years ago, my life was completely different from what it is today. Back then, I couldn’t even walk down our city block. I was pushing 300 pounds and battling major depression. At the urging of my husband and my doctor, I finally turned my life around and dropped 137 pounds -- and I did it with just one pair of shoes and a few workout DVDs! Now I’ve completed two 5k's and even took second place in one of the races.

If I can offer one piece of advice to everyone, it’s this: Track all of your food and exercise. I had no idea how much I was eating until I saw the numbers for myself.

Ashley Donahoo

My Turning Point

When I was 25 years old, my depression took a turn for the worse. I was dealing with suicidal thoughts, felt completely hopeless, and was often out of work. My doctor was worried that I was going to die and my husband was equally concerned. One day he pushed me to do a lap around the block. I didn’t even reach the first corner before I was out of breath and had shooting pains in my feet, legs and back. I finished the walk, but I was in tears for most of it. From then on, I resolved to make a change.

My Support System

My husband was my rock. He was the one who pushed me to start walking, and he gave me the emotional support I needed to keep going. My aunt was another huge help during my weight loss journey. She had recently lost 100 pounds, and I looked up to her for encouragement and advice.

My Biggest Challenge on the Road to Success

The truth is I’ve had many challenges over the years. A few months into my diet, I lost my job and went back to school to get my degree. I also underwent two surgeries that landed me on the couch. I was also still battling depression. There were a lot of hurdles to overcome, but I took it one day at a time -- celebrating what I had accomplished -- and eventually overcame them all.

My Secret to Success That I Hope to Share With Others

If I can offer one piece of advice to everyone, it’s this: Track all of your food and exercise. Let’s face it -- it’s too easy to underestimate how many calories you’ve eaten and overestimate how many calories you’ve burned. I had no idea how much I was eating until I saw the numbers for myself. There are lots of excuses to not eat healthy (and we all have them), but just think of it as a lifestyle change -- not a diet.

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