I’m currently driving back to Charlotte from Florida.  Here’s a great success story from fellow blogger Cynthia.  Enjoy!


Cynthia wrote, “I was a heavy teen and twenty-something but never remember weighing myself. I knew I was bigger than most people my age and was miserable but didn’t want to do anything about it.

High School Friends

While applying to seminary I realized my weight would make my new career responsibilities difficult. I was finally ready to head out on the journey to a healthier me. I can only guess my weight at 270+ based on doctor’s visits. I was scared of the real number so I didn’t own a scale. 


In six months, I lost 100 pounds by changing my eating habits and exercising. This was a vast departure from a steady diet of cookies, cake and Velveeta shells & cheese and losing my breath while climbing stairs. My new diet was full of fresh whole foods and the occasional 100 calorie packs and Weight Watchers snacks for a sweet treats.


With the stress of my seminary schedule I gained a bit of weight before joining Weight Watchers. I reached my happy weight just before my wedding.

All 019 

I was healthy, happy, and a runner to boot. However my stomach constantly hurt along with other digestive issues…catch my drift. I had the same problems prior to losing weight but I always blamed my poor diet. I knew I was eating junk therefore I blamed myself. Instead of seeing a doctor who would tell me to lose weight to help my symptoms I was on a steady diet of Pep to Bismol and Gas-X.


Still having pain post-weight loss was baffling since I was eating very little processed food and exercising regularly. I’d played Dr. Cynthia  with Google long enough so I gave a Medical Doctor a go at it. My physician scheduled an immediate appointment with a Gastroenterologist. Thorough examinations revealed no tumors, which lead to a battery of other tests to determine the problem. A colonoscopy was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life. I didn’t have Crohn’s disease (YEAH!) but I had severe IBS (boo!). 


The worst thing about this diagnosis is the lack of a specific treatment. I was started on a prescription for the stomach cramping yet I had breakthrough flares. Apparently something or things I was eating did not make my stomach happy…thus the pain. I was ticked. I was eating healthy food and was sicker than family and friends who subsisted on pizza and beer. What a pain in the…stomach. One by one we eliminated foods that caused flares. Some days I could only eat oatmeal and toast due to the pain. By the end I had a list of foods and additives that made my stomach symptoms worse. Since then I’ve cut out meat (I’m an accidental vegetarian), sugars and sugar alcohols, most dairy products and a few other things. With these adjustments I’m even healthier than the day I made my happy weight.

Back to it 006

Not only am I at a lower risk for all the health problems that plague my family due to weight but I’m a healthier eater with my extreme caution to ingredients and how food is prepared.  


My IBS made me realize that even “healthy” people can have health issues. We are all different and need to eat according to our body’s needs. If I had never lost the weight I would have been too embarrassed to have my IBS symptoms checked out. Now my diagnosis helps me tailor my diet for long term health and not just being thin. Most importantly I finally have the taste of pink Pep to Bicol out of my mouth!”


Other “success stories” from HTP:


  • Erica:  Positive Thinking in Real Life
  • Ben:  120 Pound Journey to an Ironman
  • Erin: Young, Strong, and Beating Distorted Thinking
  • Tina:  Two Pink Lines Motivated Her to Get Healthy
  • Bo: A Man’s Healthy Tipping Point Journey
  • Emily:  A Slow Switch Helped Her Lose Nearly 100 Pounds 
  • Kayla:  The Fear of Going Blind Motivated Her to Get Healthy 
  • Maria:  A Gallbladder Stone Scare Showed Her The Importance of Real Food
  • Dani:  Learning to Run Through the Couch to 5K Program
  • Maissa:  Finding a New Outlet for Negative Emotions
  • Freya:  A Journey Out of Anorexia
  • Carrie:  Ditched Distorted Thinking and Ran a Marathon
  • Amy:  A Mom Who Lost Baby Weight and Became a Triathlete
  • Jenny:  Saw Lance Armstrong on Oprah and Decided to Ride a Century
  • Lauren:  Stays Active Despite Being a Busy Associate at a Financial Firm
  • Beth:  A Friend’s Serious Illness Inspired Her to Focus on Her Own Health


Did getting healthy allow you to recognize a previously undiagnosed health problem?  Have you resolved a health issue by changing your lifestyle for the better?  What’s the biggest reward when you focus on health over size?



  • Jen @ Brilliant Wellbeing September 30, 2010, 12:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing Cynthia. Best line > “We are all different and need to eat according to our body’s needs”

    So true! I also have cut out foods that make me sick and have let go of over 115lbs without dieting. Its about health, not numbers!

  • Freya September 30, 2010, 12:58 pm

    Great story!
    The biggest reward when you focus on health over size is that you can enjoy yourself. Who wants a life of denial and dieting? Being healthy isn’t just about weight, it’s about metal health too. If a cupcake a week, plus weighing 2pounds more than your dream, means your happy – you’re 10 x healthier than if you denied yourself that!

    • Caitlin September 30, 2010, 1:03 pm

      True that.

    • Cynthia (It All Changes) September 30, 2010, 2:40 pm

      So true! Besides the real stuff (with some modifications due to flares) tastes so much better!

    • Stacey (The Habit of Healthy) September 30, 2010, 4:12 pm

      I totally agree with this and it’s the philiosophy I live my life by!

      • eatmovelove September 30, 2010, 6:14 pm

        Yes, I read in a book (that I reviewed once) about anxiety and fear – and the Author stated that you can be as physically fit as ever basically but it makes no difference if you aren’t mentally healthy.

        Mental health is so much more important. Because you need it in order to get the rest.

        I definitely attest to this. I used to be able to run, etc. years ago – fit and happy…then with the development of depression, anxiety, stress and life changes – that all changed.

        My legs are as heavy as my heart.

        …(and I still eat my cookies 😉 ) – sorry didn’t want to make this comment too “draggy”.

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! September 30, 2010, 1:04 pm

    I was lucky enough to not have any “health issues” when I was 245 pounds, however I knew that wouldn’t always be the case so that motivated me a lot to lose the 100+ pounds that I did!

    AND, I would like to point out that I did it by Not Dieting as I do not believe in it anymore, it doesn’t work and is unhealthy for you. I did it the plain old fashion way……..lots of hard work at the gym and on the pavement and by eating healthy as much as possible! =)

  • yummiee cupcake September 30, 2010, 1:05 pm

    i’ve had tinnitus (noise in ear) since i was a little girl and i’d always have a hard time sleeping. so growing up my mum would put no to little salt. high sodium can make the tinnitus louder. whenever i’m dining out, i always tell the server that no salt be added to my food. it helps and it makes a little good difference.

    thanks for sharing your story, cynthia!

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance....after a 100+ Pound weight loss!!! September 30, 2010, 1:05 pm

    P.S. My Biggest Reward besides finally becoming a real runner and getting healthy was being a “good role model for my daughter”, that was the most important thing to me as I did not want her to struggle with weight and a negative self body image as I did most of my life!

  • RhodeyGirl September 30, 2010, 1:13 pm

    I love your story Cynthia. I might weigh a few lbs more than I did a couple of years ago, but I am so healthy and happy now. I have energy, clear skin, and smile every day.

  • Amanda September 30, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! I was diagnosed with IBS in June, and I’ve had to make a lot of the same dietary changes Cynthia did. I’m happy to see someone else go through the same thing!

  • Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks September 30, 2010, 1:20 pm

    Great story.

    I didn’t uncover any undiagnosed health problems by losing weight, but I certainly get the idea about not wanting to go to the doctor when you’re obese. No matter what is wrong with you…your pinky toe hurts, oh! It’s because you’re fat.

    I admit fully that a lot of what was wrong with me WAS caused by my diet. I had really bad acid reflux and migraine headaches. Literally, one month of cutting back on calories and swearing off of fast foods, and they were gone. I didn’t need to lose 100 lbs, I just needed to not treat my body like a garbage can.

    Although the above is true, and my lifestyle was negatively affecting my health, it isn’t true that everything that is wrong with an obese person is because of the weight. Doctors (and the public at large) don’t take health concerns of the overweight seriously. Sure, encourage people to get help and change their diets and exercise habits….but don’t ignore what overweight people are saying.

    It might be something you might not be expecting.

    • Caitlin September 30, 2010, 1:28 pm

      I agree!!! I think so many people are embarassed to talk to their doctors for so many reasons, not just weight issues. It’s time we feel empowered about our medical care!

      • Cynthia (It All Changes) September 30, 2010, 2:44 pm

        So true Caitlin and Alexa. I never wanted to go to the doctor before because there was always the weight lecture. Even my Psychiatrist gave it to me. I avoided doctors a lot back then. Many of my problems had NOTHING to do with my weight (although I will admit some did).

  • Holly @ couchpotatoathlete September 30, 2010, 1:22 pm

    I think as I started to lose weight and get healthier I realized how low my self esteem had been in years past. I would stay home all the time, not talk to many people at work, and spend my time alone. As I lost weight and became healthier and started exercising more, my esteem went up and I started putting myself out there more.

    I got the guts to join the Police Reserves in my city and that is where I met my husband! So I’m glad I put in that time in myself and boosted my confidence level to put me in that situation 🙂

    Cynthia: great story! Thanks for sharing!

  • Natalia - a side of simple September 30, 2010, 1:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story, Cynthia!
    And safe driving, Caitlin!

  • Graze With Me September 30, 2010, 1:33 pm

    Great story, Cynthia!

    I called 2009 my “year of health”. I started eating better, got married, exercised more, made my first ever lady doctor appt (at 24!) and so much more. Then in April 2010, I decided to get a physical since I had never had one. I found out that I had a blood disorder, h. pylori, high liver enzymes, high cholesterol and crippling anxiety. I was devastated. Here I was at 24 years old, the healthiest I had ever been in my life and this is the result??!

    I haven’t fixed everything yet, but I’m working on it. Going for acupuncture has actually helped me quite a bit.

    It’s amazing how much I ignored about my body back in college. All I can say is that I am so thankful that I finally took responsibility for myself before it was too late.

  • Lisa September 30, 2010, 2:05 pm

    When I was 250 I had high blood pressure and was pre-diabetic. Those conditions both cleared up when I lost 100 pounds.

  • Megan (Braise The Roof) September 30, 2010, 2:10 pm

    Really interesting and inspiring story! I can only imagine how often people avoid going to an MD for a proper diagnosis because they are afraid of their weight being the culprit- or misdiagnosis, for that matter!

  • Carly September 30, 2010, 2:12 pm

    The doctors have been playing around with the idea that I have IBS as well. I’m not overweight and never really have been but I don’t exercise like I should anymore.I have had stomach pains every night. They thought I had a intolerance to gluten at first but now they think it’s IBS. I am struggling so much trying to figure out what is wrong with me so I can fix it. I’m scared of being restricted. Going gluten-free was really hard. I’m worried about IBS now. Thank you for posting this. It helped make me feel a little better with the situation.

    • Cynthia (It All Changes) September 30, 2010, 2:48 pm

      Changing your diet for IBS doesn’t have to mean restricting everything. I have found great alternative things to use (BEET SUGAR!!!) and eat what I want within reason. It can be done and is a great adventure.

  • Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul September 30, 2010, 2:13 pm

    It can be so frustrating to be eating and living the “right” way and still be in pain and dealing with medical issues. Thanks, Cynthia, for reminding us to see a doctor when we’re struggling and that we all have different needs!

  • Katy @ A Shot of Life September 30, 2010, 2:18 pm

    I loved seeing this post! As someone who also suffers from IBS, I know it can be somewhat embarassing to talk about (and deal with!). Thanks for sharing Cynthia!

  • Michelle @ IronDivas September 30, 2010, 2:27 pm

    The biggest reward for me is just the feeling I get by eating healthier. I too have been smaller and still felt like crap due to the foods I was putting into my body. I hate when now I eat an avocado or nuts and someone points out how fatty they are. My response is “so what”, becuase they are GOOD fats, and those comments are from people who are only strictly concerned with the weight loss and not being healthy from the inside/out. Great post, I love when people can get off the scale number and waist size and just live healthy… the rest naturally comes after that!

  • Lacey @ Lake Life September 30, 2010, 2:46 pm

    I can completely relate to Cynthia’s story. I was diagnosed with IBS about two years ago and have seen myself in the ER about twice a year with dehydration. It’s awful and also results in avoiding social situations or living on Immodium. Luckily after my last ER visit I had a gallbladder HIDA scan that showed my gallbladder to be non-functional. Hopefully having that removed will help…

    • judy March 10, 2011, 4:17 pm

      lacy, i’m new at this, just reading the whole site. i,too, have ibs diagnosis about two years ago. had my gallbladder removed many years ago. today i only wish i did not have it removed before i tried all the alternatives available even then (25 years at least). today i understand the gallbladder has a function in the body that no mother organ can fulfill. best of luck with your decision. judy

      • Caitlin March 10, 2011, 4:42 pm

        Hi Judy!

        Welcome to HTP!

        • judy March 11, 2011, 5:09 pm

          Hi Cynthia, I wanted to thank you for the welcome. I did it the other night and ended up telling you my life’s story and then, when I got to the end I hit a wrong key and lost it all. Anyway, I was saying that I have MS besides the IBS and my gallbladder out, so I am on a very restricted life style and food plan. But, mostly by choice I am gluten-egg-dairy-wheat-sugar-animal product FREE. I exercise at least 5 days a week, do yoga 2x’s, lift weights, and in general, I keep myself moving. I’ve been or studied most of the diets out there and have found ETL the closest to what I do anyway (& certainly without perfection). I found your site by accident and was loving it until I hit the wrong key (like I said, I’m a novice at the computer). I thank G-D for my husband who can fix my mistakes. I used my first name because I don’t have my own e-mail yet, but I will soon be Foxy Lady@ & that’s the part I don’t know, yet. Anyway, all that to say thank you for the welcome. Judy

  • Morgan @ Life After Bagels September 30, 2010, 2:48 pm

    Love you Cynthia 🙂

  • thehealthyapron September 30, 2010, 2:53 pm

    Congrats on your success! You look amazing and I’m also glad you now FEEL amazing!

  • Amber K September 30, 2010, 2:59 pm

    I think I am in the middle of that right now. I have been feeling way worse after my weight loss than I did before! Which seems so odd, but hopefully when my tests come back I’ll know the reason why!

  • Bb September 30, 2010, 3:06 pm

    Great story, truly inspiring. It took me some time to realize that health is more than size.

  • Ellen September 30, 2010, 3:11 pm

    YES! I spent years distrustful of doctors because they would say that the “cure” to my severe eczema was steroids and cortisone creams. I put cure in quotes because all they do is surpress the condition and hope it solves itself. Well, I’ve had it since I was a baby and it progressively got worse and worse. I would continually have to get stronger medication, to the point where I was putting creams on my face 3X a day that weren’t even approved for long term use and came with warnings to not let it touch your face. On top of that, they weren’t even working 100%. In college, I realized this was a sign of a bigger problem and resolved to get healthy, but despite all the improvements, my skin continued to worsen. On top of that, I started dropping weight rapidly, my stomach was always a mess, my always irregular periods stopped altogether and I couldn’t figure out why I felt so awful.

    Over the last year and a half, I’ve found out I had a parasite (gross, but surprisingly common), celiac disease, as well a condition in which my body produces large prolactin molecules. The first two were causing my weight loss and digestive issues and the second explained why I was always cold, lethargic, had poor muscle tone and absent periods. I have now gained about 20 necessary pounds, am completely gluten free and am on medication to correct my prolactin levels, which can cause a tumor on your pituitary if you don’t catch it in time as well as infertility. Best of all, my eczema is GONE, I feel great, have energy and won’t be tied to awful medication for the rest of my life. If you’re suffering from mysterious illness, it is SO worth it to keep searching until you find a solution. You know your body better than anyone so don’t be afraid to question your doctor and look elsewhere for help! Alternative therapies, my chiropractor and my naturopath helped me immensely. It’s so great to get your life back!

    • Caitlin September 30, 2010, 9:41 pm

      Yay natural medicine 🙂

  • Monica September 30, 2010, 3:18 pm

    Such a great story! I just discovered my body’s food preferences and am blown away by the lack of issues I now experience. We are talking about everything from energy crashes, to skin breakouts, and stomach bloat. It is amazing learning to define your own path to healthy!

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow September 30, 2010, 3:25 pm

    Awesome HTP story! I have a very close friend who has severe IBS. She’s been through so much trial and error and has finally found her “not so great foods.” It’s been tough.

    My health issue started about 4 years ago. I was training for a marathon and began to experience severe back pain during my last long run. I had never had back pain before so my doc and physical therapist told me it was a sore or strained muscle from running. Not the case. After nearly a year of many appts I found out that I had a torn disc. Ouch!

    After spending two years in constant pain (throw in an extra 50 pounds that piled on from my sadness + lack of exercise), I finally learned how to mend my back. Through that process my desire to eat well, live well and feel well came through! It was a huge process to finally get through! Hearing stories like Cynthia continue to inspire me!

    • Cynthia (It All Changes) October 1, 2010, 12:09 am

      Wow I had the same back thing happen. I ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot and had horrible back pain after. They told me it was a muscle strain and treated it as such for several months. Turned out I had 3 herniated discs and had surgery a year later to fuse them.

  • Heather in Seattle September 30, 2010, 4:05 pm

    I showed up to the ER one day with severe abdominal pain (followed by two days of bloating.) They discharged me with PID. My doctor ignored the whole thing- the diagnoses, symptoms had eased by the time I got to him.
    Six monthes later I showed up to the ER with the same abdominal pain. They let me sit in the waiting room for 8 hours! They assumed I had the same problem again. Instead they found my white blood count was double of my previous visit to them. The eight hour wait was a blessing in disguise.
    I was referred to get ultrasounds and X-rays. The only thing they found was a cyst on my ovary. My OB used this cyst to do exploritory procedure. She found my intestine and all my other organs covered in scar tissue. It’s known as abdominal adhesions. She removed as much as she could and the cyst.
    I’m not sure if my weight had anything to do with the misdiagnoses. I have lost about 90 pounds and still have issues with the adhesions.
    I have had acid reflux when at my higher weight. I can also tell when I’ve ate too much crap.

    • Caitlin September 30, 2010, 9:40 pm

      OH you poor thing!!

  • Ellen@FirednFabulous September 30, 2010, 4:06 pm

    Awesome story! Focusing on just putting healthy things into my body takes the focus away from trying to be a certain size or weight. I’ve been skinnier than I am now, but I also was unhealthier. Who wants to be “skinny-fat” anyway? I’d rather carry a few extra pounds and now I’m doing right by my body!

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit September 30, 2010, 5:11 pm

    Love these stories!

  • Ashlei September 30, 2010, 5:52 pm

    Getting healthy made me realize that the Crohn’s diagnosis I was given was completely wrong and that it’s really because I can’t tolerate gluten at all. At first I couldn’t figure out why I felt so crummy compared to my classmates who eat fast food everyday…and then I did an elimination diet and finally figured it out. The slightest bit of gluten will make me really sick so I’m really careful about being 100% GF, and now I feel great and am doing so much better in school, and can run and exercise again. 🙂

  • Kelly September 30, 2010, 8:04 pm

    Very interesting post. I have IBS too, but it’s actually what forced me to become healthy! It’s tough but it does help me never to slip back to my old ways 🙂

  • Kjirsten @ Balanced Healthy Living September 30, 2010, 8:14 pm

    I love this post. Thanks for sharing!

  • caronae September 30, 2010, 10:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing Cynthia — you are brave and healthy and strong!

    I have battled with the health vs. size thing for so long. I am still struggling with it but I know that things will settle down eventually.

  • maria @ Chasing the Now October 1, 2010, 12:36 am

    Awesome post. I started having trouble eating certain foods after losing weight. I’m still not sure why, but there are only a few of them (pineapple and kiwi, especially), so I choose to just avoid them.

    I can’t imagine having to avoid all of those things, but go Cynthia for taking control of your health!!!

  • Tracy October 1, 2010, 9:30 am

    Damn – Cynthia, you are gorgeous! You are gorgeous in all of those photos, and your wedding dress is to-die-for, but that last pic… just wow!

  • Sara October 1, 2010, 12:19 pm

    My mother has IBS, it’s no fun 🙁 My uncle has Chron’s and my husband has diverticulitis. Glad you figured out what works best for you!

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