“I’m never going to give up on my health—or myself—again.”

Dana R. always puts her family first. Now she knows that requires making herself the priority.
Published November 22, 2022

WeightWatchers® member Dana R., 42, has lost 55 pounds^ since rejoining WeightWatchers in September 2020.

^People following the WeightWatchers weight-loss program can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.

As told to Ayren Jackson-Cannady

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by my physician, suddenly and unexpectedly, in August 2020. I walked in for an annual check-up and walked out with a scary diagnosis and a handful of prescriptions that I never in a million years thought I’d have to take.

I have three daughters—two bonus daughters from my husband and one of my own. My oldest two lost their mother to cancer in 2013 when they were just 9 and 12. When my doctor gave me my diagnosis, she didn’t hold back, saying, “If you don’t do something now, you’re going to die.”

Now that wasn't her usual demeanor, but she was already frustrated with me for having not made much weight-loss or health progress over the past few years. My blood glucose was nearly 190…fasting. And I was overweight, had high triglycerides, and overall didn't feel well. At that appointment, it finally struck me—I couldn’t possibly choose to die, especially when my girls had already lost one mother.

I wasn’t sure where to start. So I rejoined my company’s WeightWatchers program—I started using the WW app right away and joined the Living with Diabetes group on Connect. Shortly after, I started posting and chatting there and I saw there was this new Diabetes-Tailored Plan.

On the moment everything “clicked”:

On that day I was diagnosed, I was taken aback by how much I’d let myself go. I sat in my car just thinking about how I would even begin to get things back on track. I cried and felt miserable about my weight, my health, and my life overall. But it clicked when I realized that I was the only mom my girls have, and that I didn’t have the luxury of being sick and tired. I have a purpose here on earth as their mom—what right did I have to keep on killing myself when they’d already been through so much?

That changed everything for me. I’m never going to give up on my health or myself again. My “I need to lose weight” mindset quickly shifted to “I’m going to lose weight.” I started immediately and never looked back. Those girls are worth every challenge along the way.

On her biggest challenge going in:

When I first started, I saw myself as an epic failure overall. My emotional and psychological connection with food and healthy choices was completely screwed up by years of poor self-esteem and negative self-talk. I had to do some serious soul-searching about my own values and why healthy choices were a positive thing for me—not just to fit someone else’s expectations.

On top of that, finding time to exercise and eat healthfully was tough at first. I had to learn to say no to other things to make it happen. And I had to squeeze in exercise where I could—at work, at 4 a.m., when my kids weren’t home–instead of more traditional times.

On how the WeightWatchers community set her up for success:

The best feature of the WW app for me—aside from the dashboard where I can track things like food and blood sugar readings—is the community, especially the Living with Diabetes group on Connect. It’s comforting to know others in my situation with the same diagnosis and challenges.

On the mantras that kept her going:

Someone suggested that I write “I am” statements at the start of each week to focus on who I am around healthy choices. So things like, “I am a person who chooses to eat vegetables each day,” and “I am a person who is in control of her choices.” This simple practice has changed my mindset a lot.

On how reaching my goal changed my life:

I've worked on managing my diabetes with my current doctor for two years; I visit every 4 to 6 months for monitoring. Weight-wise, I am about 15 pounds away from my personal goal. I’ve lost 55 pounds^ and want to lose a total of about 70. These last pounds are the toughest to lose! I do stall or plateau regularly, and the trick has been to just keep going. Wake up each day and make one choice at a time, whether it's exercise, a food choice, talking to helpful people, or writing. That's the secret—each day is new and different. One day doesn't ruin or make the journey—It's the collective behaviors and attitudes.

^People following the WeightWatchers program can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.