The small changes this woman made to lose 60 pounds

·4 min read

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In November 2021, Monica Poole found out that her brother needed a kidney transplant. Poole wanted to help, but doctors said that her weight was an obstacle. "I was overweight, I had high cholesterol and I was pre-diabetic," she told the TODAY hosts on March 27th, 2023.

Being unable to help her brother was a wake-up call. Poole, a 54-year-old attorney in Gainesville, Florida, decided to make some changes. Poole had been a yo-yo dieter for years and she decided to get serious, see a nutritionist and start exercising.

Before her 'aha' moment, diet was
Before her 'aha' moment, diet was

She changed her approach to food and fitness

"I decided to meet with a nutritionist who suggested the Mediterranean diet might be a sustainable lifestyle change for me," Poole said on TODAY. "Because with yo-yo dieting I was always focused on just losing the weight. The Cleveland Clinic in Florida really just drilled it in that this is a lifetime commitment."

Poole said she found the Mediterranean diet easy to follow, but she didn't stop at changing what she ate. She also changed how she ate. "I also tracked what I ate so it was mindful eating," Poole said. She said that keeping a food journal was really helpful.

But Poole emphasized that the most important thing that changed was her perspective. She described her thinking before her wake-up call as "all about the scale." "I was like, oh, you know, I just have to lose the weight — it's all about the diet."

Now, Poole wants to stay healthy for the rest of her life. (Courtesy Monica Poole)
Now, Poole wants to stay healthy for the rest of her life. (Courtesy Monica Poole)

Meeting with nutritionists at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida helped shift her perspective. "I worked with Cleveland Clinic Florida, and they were excellent as far as educating me on what I needed to do to be healthy as a kidney donor — as well as staying healthy for the rest of my life," Poole said. "And that was really the 'aha' moment."

By May 2022, Poole had lost 20 pounds and was close to donating a kidney to her brother. Unfortunately, she found out that she had an autoimmune disorder that prevented her from being a candidate. Poole realized that she had to stay committed to her health for herself.

"It's kind of ironic that I started this journey to give to others. And ... the journey actually gave to me and changed my life," Poole said on TODAY.

Poole's new motto is:
Poole's new motto is:

“In addition to changing my eating habits and tracking my food for mindful eating, I started walking approximately 7000 steps throughout the day,” Poole said on TODAY. “I focused on the daily steps that actually made the difference.”

The Start TODAY community helped her move past her plateau

Around the summer of 2022, Poole's weight plateaued. Luckily, she found the Start TODAY Facebook group. "That's when Start TODAY became part of my journey, giving me the community I needed to keep going."

Now, Poole said on the show, "I keep moving all day with additional walking, weight lifting and my latest endeavor — yoga." Poole credits the Start TODAY community with helping her push past her plateau.

"Start TODAY helped me lose an additional 40 pounds," Poole told TODAY. "I'm full of energy, and I'm more productive at work. When I was overweight, I wanted to fade into the background. Now I want to be seen."

She celebrates the non-scale victories

Poole has stuck to her healthy habits for over a year now and she's enjoying a lot of health benefits that have nothing to do with the number on the scale. Here are some of her non-scale victories:

  • She no longer has high cholesterol.

  • She is no longer pre-diabetic.

  • She's more confident.

  • She's more productive at work.

  • She's full of energy.

Her advice for others who want to change their health

It's easy to look at someone like Monica Poole with awe and think that she's just always been healthy and full of energy. But that's not the case and Poole says that taking your health journey step-by-step is how to stay on track. "I mean, now I walk an hour and a half every morning and it's nothing, but it took me a year to get there," she said on TODAY.

And, Poole explained, reaching a big goal is about staying consistent with small goals. "Focus on what you can do today," she said. "Have a goal — an eating goal and a moving goal. For the eating goal, focus on fruits and vegetables, get more in your diet. For the moving goal, just start moving."

Now Poole walks five to six miles a day, weight trains twice a week and does yoga once a week. But it took a long time for her to get there. "When I first started, I would take 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there. I'd break it up through the day," Poole said on TODAY.

Poole and her husband enjoy doing 5k walks together. (Courtesy Monica Poole)
Poole and her husband enjoy doing 5k walks together. (Courtesy Monica Poole)

Poole says that, while the results are impressive, the magic of living a healthy life is in the everyday details. As she said on TODAY, "Magic happens when you focus on what you can do every day. That's within your control. The magic happens and it's still happening."

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