How Debra Conquered Pain and Chased Down Success

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Some of our success stories are dramatic. They focus on people who have achieved triple-digit weight loss, performed at Carnegie Hall or overcome a food addiction. But not all accomplishments are larger than life. The smaller successes deserve some fanfare, too—in fact, without the tiny triumphs, the grand ones wouldn't be possible.
 
Debra (DEBRAJ61), 56, runs a home-based crocheting business in Enfield, Connecticut. The wife and mother of three first joined SparkPeople in 2009, but due to some unique medical issues, her activity has been sporadic. This year, after a recent pain-relieving surgery and a renewed love of running, Debra is pleased with her progress and confident about the future.
 
In the past two years, Debra has lost a total of 25 pounds. While that number might not seem like a huge amount compared to some of our other stories, it's been life-changing for Debra.
 

Running Toward Her Goals


In 2010, Debra discovered running and never looked back. "I used to just walk every day, and one day I thought it might be fun to run a 5K. So, I learned to run, started training and ran a 5K,” she remembers. “I was hooked after that. I ran a 10K, a half marathon and finally the full marathon."
 
For Debra, running has been more than just a way to burn calories. Sure, it has helped to keep her weight steady, but she also credits the sport with keeping her depression at bay, staving off sickness and boosting her overall well-being.
 
"I think anyone who exercises on a regular basis, whether it is running, walking or bicycling or what have you, is going to feel healthier," says Debra. She also uses a step counter as motivation to squeeze in extra activity throughout the day. "I wear mine all the time; it reminds me when I have been sitting for too long," she says. "Even getting up to march or jog in place for a thousand steps helps.”
 
In 2013, Debra ran her first marathon in Hartford, Connecticut -- but the outcome wasn't quite what she'd hoped. "I came in an hour after the cutoff time of six hours," she recalls. "My kids had to come find me out on the course and walked the rest of the way back with me for five miles."
 

Facing a Painful Challenge


Just as Debra was hitting her stride with running, her progress was derailed by a rare and painful condition. In 2014, she was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, a disease that causes severe facial pain that is exacerbated by physical activity.
 
“Even walking would cause vibration that would trigger the pain,” she says. “I was taking medication for it, but every few months the pain would return.” To avoid the pain, she cut back on running and walking, which resulted in some weight gain.
 
Debra recalls a day in 2015 when she was walking up the stairs and noticed how fast her heart was beating. "I knew that I was carrying more weight than I should be, and that I should be able to walk up a flight of stairs without that happening." Right then, she decided to get back on SparkPeople and to stop letting a fear of pain dictate her exercise routine.
 
Earlier this year, Debra underwent surgery to help alleviate the pain, and she has now been pain-free since April. This past October, she ran her second marathon. This time, she focused more on her training and was determined to improve her performance—and it paid off. Not only did Debra run the entire race, but she also beat her time from her 2013 marathon. Her sights are set on the Philadelphia marathon next year.


Debra's Nutrition Plan


Debra describes her daily meals as pretty basic. Breakfast is usually oatmeal made with milk and brown sugar, sometimes with fruit added. For a mid-morning snack, she often has a banana, which provides a carb boost to help fuel her running. Lunch is different each day: Sometimes she'll have soup if she prepped a batch for the week, along with a salad, or tuna fish on wheat bread. A typical afternoon snack is homemade energy balls. For dinner, Debra tries to cook as healthy as possible while accommodating her husband's prediabetic condition. They keep potatoes, rice and pasta to a minimum, with an emphasis on chicken and veggies.
 
Debra has learned to keep her trigger foods out of the house. "Potato chips are my complete downfall," she admits. "I can eat an entire bag in one sitting, so we just don't buy them. Having a couple is fine if you work it into your food plan, but I can't just eat one or two. I will eat the whole bag!"
 

The Importance of Community


Throughout her journey, Debra has found SparkPeople to be an invaluable resource—not just the articles and recipes, but for the camaraderie and support.
 
"It was the encouragement of all my Spark friends that has kept me going during my real down times," she says. "Support is so important when you are traveling down this road of weight loss. Even if it is a small gesture of saying 'keep pushing' or 'way to go', it still makes you smile and know that others are watching and are happy for your little victories."
 
After joining the Spark Connecticut team, Debra eventually became one of the team leaders. She has even had the chance to meet some of her Spark friends in person—one of whom became Debra's walking buddy. They started a friendly weight-loss competition, which helped motivate her to reach her goal faster.
 
"I also enjoy encouraging others to reach their goals," Debra says. "Having others going through the same journey really helps."

If she could give one piece of advice to someone who is struggling in their weight loss, it would be simply "Don't give up," which was Debra's mantra throughout her journey. "If you are feeling hopeless and cannot seem to do this any longer, repeat my mantra," she suggests. "Or find one that works for you, that helps you keep going. And remember, it takes time—and celebrate every little victory."

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Comments

RAPUNZEL53 10/30/2018
Great! Report
WANDAATKINSON 8/21/2018
GREAT STORY, THANKS!! Report
KHALIA2 2/20/2018
You are truly an inspiration to many! Report
SHARONDAVISDV 2/12/2018
This is the first comment I have ever left but your story sound so similar to my own. I would start a new exercise regimen it would work for awhile then I would begin having trouble with my knees. I have a seven year old and I refuse to stop trying. Sometimes I just want to give up, I have over 200 pounds to lose. Thanks for sharing your story, it has giving me the inspiration needed to continue trying. Report
LOSER05 2/3/2018
great. Report
RAYLEALISA 2/2/2018
Wow, great story, you are definitely blessed! Pain is hard for me with my hip , neck and heel, and back. It's hard to exercise cause the gets a lot worse. If you have any suggestions, I'm would be greatly appreciated. 😊 Report
BECCABOO127 2/2/2018
Wonderful success story! Report
LHVDOTME 2/2/2018
great story. Report
HAPPYDOES 2/2/2018
Thank you for sharing your story, Debra!
I'm so glad you are pain free and running as you love to do!
Here's to a long and happy life! Report
ADIRONDACKMOM1 2/2/2018
Amen Debra! This blog might as well have been mine- except that my pain is in my knees and it keeps me from running. I refuse to give up on myself in spite of the pain. I do as much chair exercises as possible and walk as much as possible. I DO SOMEDAY PLAN ON JOGGING AGAIN! Thanks for the inspiration! Report
JANET552 2/2/2018
What an inspiring story. Report
SEDONACAT 2/2/2018
I admire that you didn't use pain as an excuse to stick to the same old routines. As a nurse, I know how painful your conditions were and am very happy that you are taking care of yourself physically and emotionally by doing what you like and what's good for you. Well done!! Report
ALABAMASUSAN17 2/2/2018
Well done! Report
ROSSYFLOSSY 1/25/2018
Great article. Report
NASFKAB 1/21/2018
Very inspirational thank you Report
BONDMANUS2002 1/20/2018
Absolutely great Report
JIBBIE49 1/18/2018
Great. Report
1ZIPPYC 1/14/2018
So proud of you Debra! Glad we are sparkfriends! You are so inspiring with all you have been through and you never gave up! Well done! So glad you are pain free now and hope it continues. Good luck with your goals! Report
SHAWSKITO 1/10/2018

Great article. Good for you for overcoming your facial disease and knowing when to slow things down to a steady stop. Congratulations on the running episodes. I thot I'd try running this past summer - just as a joke - but it was such a hot and humid summer, that I didn't go out of the house unless I had an appointment . . . just stayed home in the air conditioning. May try to do in summer of 2018. I probably won't be very successful as I will likely have trouble keeping my breath. Am going to try skating again this winter after 25+ years being the last time I skated. I have to get to the arena first though, as my skates need sharpening.
Keep up the good work! Congratulations again! Report
ARTJAC 1/10/2018
GREAT Report
SHOAPIE 1/10/2018
Thanks. Report
MBPP50 1/10/2018
Awesome! Report
PATRICIA-CR 1/10/2018
I'm so enjoying these new real-life articles!! Report
PLCHAPPELL 1/10/2018
Great article Report
CHERIRIDDELL 1/9/2018
inspiring Report
BARCELONAME 1/9/2018
Wishing you all the best. What an incredible story. Report
ARMERO 1/9/2018
Simply Inspiring Report
AALLEY2 1/9/2018
Great story! Report
SANAABUBACKER 1/9/2018
Wow! I am so proud and inspired by her! Report
LIS193 1/9/2018
Great! Report
97MONTY 1/9/2018
Great story Report
AMYRCMK 1/9/2018
Awesome story! Report
DMEYER4 1/9/2018
great story Report
AZMOMXTWO 1/9/2018
good article Report
AZMOMXTWO 1/9/2018
good article Report
LEANJEAN6 1/9/2018
Good info Report
PICKIE98 1/9/2018
Tic douloureax is extremely painful, and with surgery it can be helped in most cases. Good for her! Report
NEPTUNE1939 1/9/2018
great Report
NEPTUNE1939 1/9/2018
great Report
RAPUNZEL53 1/9/2018
Interesting. Report
HMBROWN1 1/9/2018
Very inspirational! Report
RO2BENT 1/9/2018
Exercise decreases pain Report
TCANNO 1/9/2018
good info Report
MNABOY 1/7/2018
Thanks for sharing Report
TOMATOCAFEGAL 1/4/2018
great story and one of positivity. not everyone needs to lose 100+, but it is still hard when overweight and short all your life. Report
SUNSET09 1/4/2018
Whoo, hoo and way to go, SparkFriend! Just proof that hard work and determination pays off. Report
JIACOLO 1/3/2018
Thanks for reminding me of the importance of planning and setting goals. Report
NUHUSKY95 1/2/2018
Inspiring and much to learn from - we all have to keep fighting, pushing forward in our goals! Great story and keep going, Debbie! Report
KITT52 1/1/2018
good info thanks Report
RHOOK20047 12/31/2017
GReat info. Report