Feb 27
2012

My Health and Weight Loss Journey: Before & After Photos

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This is the story of my health and weight loss journey, tips on how I lost 30 pounds, and before and after photos.
My-Health-and-Weight-Loss-Journey-Before-&-After-Photos-Cookin-Canuck

If I had a dollar for each time I started my weight loss journey (before and after photos at the end), I’d have enough money to pay for a year of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and the South Beach Diet combined. Why did it take so many attempts and then why did it finally stick? In the past, I began each attempt with gusto. I cleared the pantry of all sweets, jacked up my exercise routine and drank copious amounts of water. That all sounds good, right? All would be well until I stepped on the scale and saw that I lost several pounds. And that’s where everything went wrong.

Right after losing those first few pounds and patting myself on the back, I dropped right back into old habits. I don’t know why. Some warped, psychological kind of mind game that I played with myself, I suppose.

I wish I could tell you why this time was different, but I can’t quite pinpoint it. Did I finally decide that I deserve to feel good all the time? Did my heart break a little more every time I avoided having pictures taken with my children? Was I more determined than ever to enjoy a long and healthy life with my husband? Something shifted, and I am grateful for that.

Last September, my good friend and running partner told me about an app on her phone that she started using. I went straight home and downloaded MyFitnessPal. It was exactly what I needed to get on track. I started to keep track of everything I put in my mouth and every calorie that I burned during exercise. As much as we all want a magic pill, the formula is anything but magic. Calories in, calories out.

There were times that I indulged in a sugary treat or a hunk of Brie. I considered not entering the little indulgence into my phone, but then decided I wasn’t going to lie to myself. I recorded the calories and then adjusted my meals and snacks for the rest of the day. A few more veggies, an apple instead of cheese and crackers, one less helping of pasta…you get the picture. Five months later, I feel great, better than I have in years.

I am beyond lucky for the love and support given to me by my family. My parents sent me encouraging emails; my kids cheered me on; and my dear husband encouraged my running, made bowls of quinoa and healthy wraps for our lunches, celebrated every success along the way, and told me he loved me no matter what. I love all of you!

For those of you who are starting on a similar journey, I am cheering you on. The first few weeks are not a walk in the park, but I promise you that it will get easier. Do it for your health, do it for your energy levels. Do it for yourself.

The results:
So far, I have shed 25 pounds, and lost 5 1/2 inches off my waist and 3 inches from my hips. I’m planning on losing a few more to get into my comfort zone, but I am feeling fantastic. My energy is boundless, I am in control of my eating, I am stronger than I have ever been and I am looking forward to kicking some butt in a half-marathon in April.

So, how did I get there? Here’s the skinny, so to speak.

Eating:

For more tips on healthy eating, see my post on Portion Control for Weight Loss & Healthy Living.

Breakfast: Weekday mornings typically kick off with a workout of some sort. Since these workouts happen pretty early, I can’t drag myself from bed early enough to fit in a full breakfast. So, I usually eat half a banana and half a low fat granola bar, and drink a glass of water. Post-workout, I rotate between two breakfasts. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit.

Healthy Breakfast Collage 1

The first option is a yogurt parfait with blueberries and granola, and lately I’ve been replacing the frozen blueberries with frozen marionberries. So good! On the other mornings, I make one egg white plus one full egg, sunnyside up (just a little cooking spray in the pan) on a half piece of whole wheat toast, accompanied by a half grapefruit or clementine orange.

After my long run on the weekend, I go for something a little more substantial to replace those calories I burned. Whole Wheat Waffles, frittatas, or eggs benedict (calorie-laden Hollandaise sauce replaced with a zippy black bean spread) are some of the regulars.

I am simply not one of those people who can skip breakfast, nor do I want to be. In fact, if I don’t eat breakfast, it usually means that I set myself up for failure, resorting to bingeing later because I’m so hungry. In those situations, I end up eating far more calories later in the day than I would if I had regulated my blood sugar (and mood…ugh, I’m a bear when I don’t eat) first thing in the morning.

For more healthy breakfast ideas, head to this post.

Lunch: Lunch is a bit of a free-for-all. It could be leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, a salad with lots of protein, or a low fat wrap sandwich.

I used to eat enormous sandwiches, packed with all sorts of meat, cheese and veggies, and slathered with mayo. Now I do this in a modified version. Typically I use Wasa Whole Grain Crispbread (or their Wasa Crisp ‘n Light 7 Grain version) as a base, spread on some hummus, mustard or a little mayo, and top them with turkey, salmon or tuna, and plenty of veggies. Maybe a little cheese too, but far less than I used to use. I still get the taste, but without the extra calories and fat.

Dinner: Dinner runs the gamut – salmon with pesto, Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash & Quinoa and Healthy Lasagne are just a few of our favorites.

Weight Loss Collage 1

The key for me is to include plenty of lean protein, such as fish, chicken or pork tenderloin and pair it with a large portion of veggies (salad, steamed veggies or stir-fried veggies with little or no oil) and a small amount of a whole grain side (brown rice, quinoa or whole wheat pasta). The protein fills me up and keeps me full, which is key in dodging those nighttime snacking urges.

Snacks: This is where I used to get into big trouble. When you leave the block of cheese and bag of crackers out on the counter, it’s pretty tempting to have “just a few more”. By the time I knew it, I’d eaten a full meal’s worth of calories…and more! Now I try to be a lot more aware about my snacks, preparing small snacks and actually being aware of eating them, rather than absent-mindedly stuffing them into my mouth while doing ten other tasks.

Some of my favorites are cheese and whole grain crackers (just a lot less), yogurt, raw almonds, celery with hummus, a piece of fruit, low fat granola bar and cottage cheese.

There are times when I find myself feeling hungry but usually this happens shortly after eating a meal or snack. Am I really hungry? I think I’m bored or simply trying to avoid some task I don’t want to do. Instead of eating, I try to distract myself with another activity (away from the fridge!) or curb the craving by drinking a glass of water or cup of herbal tea.

Dessert: This is where the moderation part comes in. Was it realistic for me to completely cut out dessert? Heck no! If I don’t let myself eat any sweets, I just want them more. Human nature, right? However, I did cut back on the amount of dessert I eat and, when I do eat it, I try to do so at the end of the day. By that time, I’ve either lost the craving or I only want a little bit. The less sugar I eat, the less I crave it. Something else also happens. Whenever I do eat sugar, I become tired. As in “I must go to bed right this instant” kind of tired.

Some of my favorite herbal teas have enough sweetness to fend off the sugar cravings. Celestial Seasoning’s Bengal Spice is my all-time favorite. I often end the day with a cup of this tea. In the afternoon, green teas usually fit the bill. My new favorite is Lipton Red Goji with Rasbperry.

Exercise:

Cardio: Running has been my exercise of choice for several years and I even have several half-marathons under my belt. However, I always did things halfway – running just enough long runs before the half-marathon to prepare myself adequately. My weekly runs were at the bare minimum mileage and I never pushed my speed. Things have changed. Believe me, I am not a fast runner. But I am faster than I used to be and I am stronger than ever. My weekly mileage ranges from 26 to 30 miles. And damn, does it feel good!

Most of my running miles are clocked with my very good friend and running partner. Knowing that she is waiting for me outside at 5:45am, when I just want to stay in bed, helps me to stumble out of my bedroom and pull on my running shoes. Our runs are a time when we get to catch up and keep each other motivated. We are very compatible in running style and personality, and know how to push each other.

Strength Training: I’ve always enjoyed lifting light weights, but never did it consistently, nor did I push myself. Things changed as soon as I found “Power Pump” at our local community center. The instructor keeps things fresh (I swear she stays up at night, dreaming up new ways to “torture” us), keeps us motivated and kicks our butt every single time. I am stronger than I have ever been. My boys are even impressed by my bicep muscles now!

My weekly workout routine: This is a typical week’s schedule for me.
Monday: Run 5 miles
Tuesday: Strength training class, then 2.5 miles (faster speed) on the treadmill
Wednesday: Run 5 miles
Thursday: Strength training class, then 2.5 miles (working in sprints) on the treadmill
Friday: Run 5 miles
Saturday: Run 7 to 11 miles
Sunday: Day off

Do you need to exercise this amount to lose weight? Nope. Do you need to run to get stronger? Of course not. But you do need to move your body. Preferably at least 5 times per week. Walk, ride, run, kick some karate bootie, do yoga. Choose what’s right for you. Choose something you enjoy and makes you feel good. Choose something you think you can stick with or switch it up regularly. It may take some trial and error before you find what’s right. Don’t give up…the feeling of moving your body and getting stronger is like no other.

Now it’s time for the good, the bad and the ugly, also known as the before and after photos. Going through the “before” photos was a painful process, though it did make me grateful for where I am now. As for the “after” photos, I extend a huge thank you to my dear friend, Heidi Larsen, of Foodiecrush Magazine. She’s absolutely brilliant and makes me look good!

The Before Photos:

EVOMarla
With my talented friend, Marla Meridith of Family Fresh Cooking

AEBTrip2

BlogHer
Left to right: Sweet & talented Amanda of I Am Baker, Marla & me

The After Photos:
All photos by Heidi Larsen of Foodiecrush

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My wonderful family.

Weight Loss Collage

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Thanks to all of you for your support. If any of you are going through your own journey, I would love to hear about it!

Disclaimer: This post contains links to my Amazon affiliate page. Any revenue made from sales through these links helps to support this blog. Thank you!

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{ 321 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Aggie February 27, 2012 at 4:33 am

Oh Dara I could cry! You look absolutely amazing and I am so so proud of you. Your words spoke to me in so many ways. I feel like I’ve been struggling with the same weight for as long as I can remember, up & down, up & down. I was feeling good for a while then fell back into old habits like you said. What hurts me hard is that I too avoid pictures with my kids, :(
Its such a simple formula, calories in calories out. You are inspiring & very motivating!! I love you girl! Keep kicking arse with that running, (& weights!!) xo

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2 Barb P. February 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm

What an inspirational story! I am also trying to change how I eat and what I eat. And it’s not easy. I have to will myself to do it. Your quinoa and butternut squash stew was a good start! thanks for all your good ideas and food suggestions. When you’re a foodie, then it’s extra hard!! But the more I search, the more delicious and healthy recipes I find, thanks to you!

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3 Belinda @zomppa February 27, 2012 at 4:38 am

Dang!! You have always been gorgeous but I’m so super impressed with your commitment and achievement!! You look stunning (can see your husband thinks that way too!!) =)

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4 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar February 27, 2012 at 4:58 am

You look absolutely beautiful Dara!! Wow, what an awesome transformation. Keep it up!

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5 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen February 27, 2012 at 4:59 am

Dara you look incredible!! I’m so impressed with your dedication and the results you’ve achieved. You are an inspiration, thank you for sharing your story.

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6 abbi February 27, 2012 at 5:01 am

Enjoyed reading this post – you look great!

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7 Kel February 27, 2012 at 5:25 am

You are beautiful from the inside out!

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8 Cassie February 27, 2012 at 5:30 am

You look amazing, Dara and congratulations on such wonderful success. It’s so difficult to make these kinds of changes and I’m so glad to read about your journey. Many congratulations to you!!

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9 Julie @ Table for Two February 27, 2012 at 6:07 am

What an inspiration!! You look fabulous, Dara. Really, what a transformation!! I’m glad you decided to blog about this to help others out and to give us a look inside your journey! Love it :)

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10 the wicked noodle February 27, 2012 at 6:09 am

You look fabulous, Dara!!

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11 Heather (Heather's Dish) February 27, 2012 at 6:13 am

you looked beautiful before, but now you just look so HEALTHY and beautiful! i’m so glad you shared this with us :)

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12 Tricia @ Saving room for dessert February 27, 2012 at 6:15 am

Wow – you look fantastic! Congratulations – very terrific job indeed!

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13 Blog is the New Black February 27, 2012 at 6:16 am

I enjoyed reading your journey, and what worked for you! Congrats on losing weight the healthy way and maintaining it- that’s the hardest part!

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14 Erin February 27, 2012 at 6:24 am

Congrats Dara! You look fantastic!

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15 Jessica @ How Sweet February 27, 2012 at 6:24 am

You just look absolutely fantastic! So happy for you! Congrats!

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16 Aimee @ Simple Bites February 27, 2012 at 6:29 am

You were always beautiful, Dara, but those ‘after’ photos are *dazzling*. Congratulations!! Thanks for sharing your journey.

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17 Chanel Babe June 19, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Wow ..my thoughts exactly!

Dara — thank you for your post. You were beautiful before and now you are simply dazzling.

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18 Kulsum@journeykitchen February 27, 2012 at 6:31 am

Dara this is so inspiring. So so so proud of you and what you have achieved. You looks beautiful <3

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19 MikeVFMK February 27, 2012 at 6:33 am

So happy for you! You look fantastic and what a journey it’s been. It’s inspiration for me as well, to get out and about more and start focusing on what it is I eat. Congratulations. Amazing.

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20 Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy February 27, 2012 at 6:34 am

You should be extremely proud- you look amazing and you did it the best way! Love to hear weight loss success stories like yours :)

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21 Julia February 27, 2012 at 6:34 am

You look amazing!!

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22 Jessen February 27, 2012 at 6:38 am

You Look Like You Feel, Amazing!! Congrats Dara =)

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23 Kaitlin February 27, 2012 at 6:38 am

You look fabulous! Congratulations! You are my new inspiration to finally make a conscious effort to eat healthier.

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24 Hayley February 27, 2012 at 6:41 am

Wow, this is amazing! You look so wonderful and healthy – and HAPPY. Also, I must say that you look so much younger! You should be so proud of yourself. Thank you for this post. :)

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25 Kiran @ KiranTarun.com February 27, 2012 at 6:42 am

Dara, by sharing this epic journey, you’ve exuberated courage, strength and beauty — inside & out.

Congrats on your success and thanks for the inspirations!

You look absolutely gorgeous :)

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26 Kita February 27, 2012 at 6:42 am

Congratulations. Not only are you thinner – but you look like you are in your early 20′s and are simply glowing!! I love your tips and pointers – it does have to be a change you make only for yourself.

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27 The BearFoot Baker February 27, 2012 at 6:48 am

You look stunning!! I am so inspired by you! I am on my healthy journey now and I have a wonderful friend that is walking it with me! You help me see where I want to be!! Thanks and Congrats!!

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28 Carolyn February 27, 2012 at 6:57 am

Wow, Dara. Your after photos are stunning. Great work!

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29 Helene February 27, 2012 at 6:59 am

So proud of you Dara! You look 10 years younger! Congrats!

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30 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. February 27, 2012 at 7:01 am

wow! Amazing post! Love this and so proud and happy for you!!

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31 Lori @ RecipeGirl February 27, 2012 at 7:02 am

Dara!!!!!! Yay! Look how beautiful and HAPPY you look! Your story is absolutely motivating. I’m totally with you on everything you mentioned as struggles. I need to be more consistent with having healthier options in the house. Maybe now that the cookbook writing is almost over, I can clean out my pantry and fridge and start over.

Be careful about running 6/7 days a week. I had the same schedule as you and did great for many months until my foot said it was too much and I ended up with Plantars Fasciitis, an inability to run or do any impact exercise AT ALL, and then the weight inevitably crept back on. That was a long, 5 month period of pain and weight gain. I’m thankful that it’s gone now, but I’m being very careful with both the length and frequency of my runs. I know so many people who have had problems with PF!

Doesn’t it feel great to be thin??? Best feeling in the world, right? I’m going to continue on my journey and hope to reach my goal eventually too so that I have a happy story to tell! Many congrats to you! XO

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32 kelley February 27, 2012 at 7:04 am

Hot damn, girl!!!! There is no denying how incredible you look, the dedication and hard work have payed off. Well done! It’s always nice when you can feel good about yourself because no doubt that’s what it’s all about, no? You are one of the most genuine women I know and I feel very fortunate that I’ve gotten to know you over the last year. You are incredibly warm, compassionate, funny and a damn good cook, I might add. Congratulations to you, Dara, you’ve earned it!

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33 patsy February 27, 2012 at 7:05 am

I started getting serious about a week before the new year… just starting to see some real changes and it was so nice to see your post this morning! It is motivating to see that patience and dedication to this new lifestyle will pay off! Good for you!

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34 Gwen February 27, 2012 at 7:11 am

Congratulations! Wow, you look amazing in those after photos. Great job. I know the struggle well…I guess most women who have children do. I love food, I’m used to eating for reasons other than hunger, I struggle to find time to run more than 10 miles a week. I’m trying to find my way to losing 20 pounds or so without making myself crazy. Your words were inspiring, thanks for that. :)

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35 Bryt February 27, 2012 at 7:14 am

Absolutely stunning and very inspiring! It’s great that you have a running partner, smart idea :)

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36 Barbara @ Barbara Bakes February 27, 2012 at 7:15 am

Congratulations! You’re looking so fit and healthy.

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37 jenna February 27, 2012 at 7:21 am

what a touching post! You look years younger and your skin looks absolutely amazing!!! Congrats!

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38 brandi February 27, 2012 at 7:21 am

Dara, you are so gorgeous, in the before AND after shots! It’s always fun to see other pictures than just the headshots on the sidebars. There are some great tips in here – and I’ve yet to make your eggs benedict! Thanks for the reminder :)

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39 Karla February 27, 2012 at 7:21 am

So inspired by your post! I do the same thing–lose a few pounds and then congratulate myself with the old habits. Consistency is key! Thanks for the reminder….

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40 bridget {bake at 350} February 27, 2012 at 7:22 am

Dara! What an inspiration!

I have done the same thing…lose a few pounds, and then I think it’s ok to have a cupcake. Hey, I didn’t gain any weight from that…why not have two?!? Hey, I think I’ll have a Coke instead of water…it really doesn’t matter. Then, what do you know, I’m back up to my “fighting” weight, haha.

But it’s not funny…and as I get older, it is harder and harder to shed those pounds. I, too, shy away from the camera. I avoid beaches and pools like the plague.

I started Couch to 5K after Christmas. And I’ve lost about 1 pound. Boo. But, I’m finally to the point of doing longer runs and it feels so good…and hurts…but mostly makes me happy. I’m really focusing on food because I KNOW that is my issue. For Lent, I gave up all snacks other that fruits and veggies. Snacks are one of my downfalls. Well, snacks and having a baking blog.

I will quit writing this novel now and just say…thank you! Thank you for the inspiration…to eat REAL food, to exercise, and to just DO IT!!! You are beautiful!

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41 Melody Fury // GourmetFury.com February 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

Thank you for sharing your journey in a detailed and honest manner. So proud of you. Your before photos were beautiful but you’re absolutely glowing in your after photos. I know you’ll reach your goal. Congratulations!!

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42 Melissa February 27, 2012 at 7:25 am

So happy for you! I lost ~80lbs (I hover between 78-80 lost right now) in the past 2 years (and probably spent 1.5 years actively losing weight…a medical crisis interfered) and took up running, getting serious about it about 3 months ago. I’m pretty slow, but seeing that you’ve toughened up your workout and gotten faster gives me hope! I need to get my butt in the gym for strength training and cross training in addition to my 3 days running, but I’m struggling with the time commitment right now :/ I find stories like yours SO inspirational — thanks for sharing! :)

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43 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) February 27, 2012 at 7:39 am

Hooray, Dara! What a wonderful, affirming post. Your success is an inspiration. I think for many of us, it’s the commitment of time that’s hardest to make, and accepting the notion that we can put ourselves and our health first, and not at the end of a long list of tending to the needs of all around us.

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44 Rachel @ Baked by Rachel February 27, 2012 at 7:43 am

You look amazing Dara! Thanks for sharing your story. You’ll be an inspiration to many. :)

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45 Meg @ Sweet Twist February 27, 2012 at 7:45 am

Fantastic. You look great! Very inspirational, small steps and it can be done. I have started to track everything I am eating to. It’s amazing how quickly it adds up and how you may not realize it.

Great job! Keep it up!

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46 Maria February 27, 2012 at 7:48 am

Thanks for sharing your journey! You truly are an inspiration! You look HOT Dara:) I am so proud of you! I know this post will help so many others struggling with similar issues. You are amazing! xoxo

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47 Jenny Flake February 27, 2012 at 7:51 am

Woohoo!! Look at those pictures! What a story, you are incredible and look amazing! xoxo

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48 Deborah February 27, 2012 at 7:51 am

I’m so happy for you – and you look amazing!! I was counting calories and it really was an eye-opener – I didn’t realize just how much I was eating. I need to follow your example and get back on the boat!

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49 marla February 27, 2012 at 7:52 am

OMG!!!!!!! I am so proud of you my friend. This ever lasting journey of health becomes you and I wish you great luck going forward :) XXOO You are gorgeous!

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50 Nicole February 27, 2012 at 7:53 am

Wow! At first, I didn’t even recognize you in your After pictures. You look amazing and great job with keeping it up!

I usually do great with eating right and exercising, but lately I have slacked off on both. I’m not sure how or why, but I am having a lot of trouble getting back into it. Do you have any advice or ideas for motivation?

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51 Bri February 27, 2012 at 7:54 am

Dara, I loved reading your story! Hearing about your success only encourages me in my own goals. Way to go!

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52 Amie February 27, 2012 at 7:55 am

You look absolutely fantastic…

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53 Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables February 27, 2012 at 7:59 am

I love this post-many of my coworkers use My Fitness Pal and they swear by it. Congratulations, adopting a healthy lifestyle really is a huge achievement. and you look BEAUTIFUL :)

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54 Megan Pence @CountryCleaver February 27, 2012 at 8:00 am

Dara, this journey of yours is truly an inspiration. I’ve been fighting the battle of the bulge and it’s so overwhelming at times when once you find yourself on the downhill side of the scale only to end up back up on the high side of things. Thanks for the “real talk” about your progress.
173 days until my wedding – 8 pounds down – 15 more to go!!

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55 Angie February 27, 2012 at 8:04 am

I loved reading your story, your so inspirational, and look fantastic! You even look younger, so beautiful!

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56 Maggy February 27, 2012 at 8:04 am

I have to leave a comment here for you too. You are an inspiration, Dara. And you look FABULOUS. I’m so happy for you – that you were able to make the changes in your life that make you feel happy, proud, and beautiful. Three cheers to you, dear! XOXO

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57 Flavia February 27, 2012 at 8:07 am

Dara, I am so incredibly impressed! When I first met you last year at EVO, I thought you were beautiful on the inside and the outside. I enjoyed reading your story and admire your discipline {and slightly envy the fact that you are a runner–I can’t seem to get into it}. :) I am especially impressed by your message about healthy eating–that you use real food and real ingredients and that you eat everything {including sweets} in moderation. In my opinion, it’s the *only* way to eat for health, weight loss & maintenance. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You look FANTASTIC! Hope I can see you again this year too. Love and Hugs!

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58 Cooking with Michele February 27, 2012 at 8:13 am

WOW, WOW, WOW!!!! I know you are going to have hundreds of comments on your blog today and you may not even see this comment, but I want to congratulate you! Ironically, your “big reveal” comes on the day I have decided that I just have to get my health back – less junk food, more vegetables, less alochol, more exercise. When you live in the food and wine world like I do it can be tough – so many. many thanks for the inspiration!

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59 KalynsKitchen February 27, 2012 at 8:16 am

Congratulations, and as I have said before you look fantastic!

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60 Bev Weidner February 27, 2012 at 8:16 am

YOU. LOOK. INCREDIBLE!

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61 Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) February 27, 2012 at 8:17 am

Dara, your after pictures are great but if you don’t mind my saying so, you were beautiful before, as well. Your smile radiates joy in all the images. :)

Congrats on this wonderful accomplishment, truly inspiring. Each year I plan to make “this year” the healthiest I’ve ever been but I have somehow dropped the ball over the last couple of years. You have motivated me to stick to my goals (eat better, get back on my bike and run). Congrats, again! :)

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62 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme February 27, 2012 at 8:17 am

Wow, Dara! You look absolutely fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing your journey. Weight is something I’ve struggled with all my life and I have quite a bit more to lose than you, but I’ve made a start. Thanks for giving me a little extra motivation.

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63 nicole@ I am a Honey Bee February 27, 2012 at 8:17 am

Congrats! you look stunning!

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64 Esi February 27, 2012 at 8:18 am

Congratulations! It’s inspiring to see your success

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65 Rosie @ Sweetapolita February 27, 2012 at 8:18 am

What a wonderful post, Dara! You are absolutely glowing from the inside out, and you are such a beauty–your warmth and kind soul have always radiated from your photos and words, and I’m so glad we connected. You are an inspiration to all of us, in every way. Go, Dara! xo

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66 Jany@SuperCuteCookies February 27, 2012 at 8:23 am

You look amazing, congratulations on such wonderful success! It’s so difficult to loose weight and most of all to make these kinds of changes and I’m so glad to read about your success. Once again many congratulations to you!!!

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67 AmyRuth February 27, 2012 at 8:23 am

Thanks for the tip on the AP! Accountability is a treasure and you’ve found that with your running buddy. Your appearance is that of a teenager but more importantly the underlying message of health and well being is key. You’ve discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and so your goal was reached. You are a tiny girl and so you’ll probably play around with 3 or 4 pounds on any given month. That won’t bother you because you are a winner! Ya WON!!! he he You look amazing and seriously way way younger. Isn’t that so cool? Wait until those boys get to junior high and their friends start saying how “HOT” you are. he he Congratulations!

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68 shelly (cookies and cups) February 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

You are gorgeous. Totally gorgeous!

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69 EatLiveRun February 27, 2012 at 8:28 am

Dara, you look absolutely AMAZING! Congratulations! You’re glowing from the inside out. :)

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70 Nutmeg Nanny February 27, 2012 at 8:29 am

You look amazing! Reading stories like this are always such a positive inspiration. I have been dealing with weight issues since I was a child so I know all to well about the ups and downs of dieting. Lose a couple pounds and then all of a sudden I think I can reward myself by eating whatever I want…viscous cycle. I have been working on losing weight for my upcoming wedding so I hope to write a post like this too…thank you for the inspiration!

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71 Tickled Red February 27, 2012 at 8:31 am

Oh Dara I just love this story of your journey!What an inspiration. Congrats sweetheart on all of your hard work :D {{hugs}}

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72 Shaina February 27, 2012 at 8:37 am

Dara, you look amazing. A good 10 years younger easily, and so, so happy. I’m so excited for you. I’m sure you feel just wonderful.

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73 adrienne February 27, 2012 at 8:38 am

you look great, at least 10 years younger. congratulations – keep it up!

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74 Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker February 27, 2012 at 8:44 am

Dara, You look absolutely fabulous!! Your post is so inspiring! I have done well at eating better, but I need to get my butt moving in terms of exercise. MyFitnessPal is awesome! My boyfriend and I both had some weight to lose and he found that app over the summer. We both downloaded it and started watching our calories and walking together. I lost the 10 lbs I needed to lose, and he’s down 30 lbs! It’s true that there is no secret or magic – you need to burn more calories than you take in. Thank you for the reminder that I need to get moving again!

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75 DessertForTwo February 27, 2012 at 8:47 am

You look absolutely STUNNING!

Gorgeous family :)

And congrats! :)

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76 Nancy@acommunaltable February 27, 2012 at 8:49 am

WOO HOO!! Congratulations Dara!! So much wisdom and common sense in your post – a true must read for anyone who wants to improve their health!!

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77 Living The Sweet Life February 27, 2012 at 8:50 am

Dara, there are so many things I love about this post!! First, congratulations – - congratulations, for sticking through all the hard work and making a lifestyle change, this isn’t just a goal you set and are working towards it – but its the hard work for a healthier and better feeling life. That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment :)
Also, congratulations on how happy you now look – - you’re glowing with your family. And of course, congratulations on how much weight you have lost and how much stronger you have become.

I can relate to this entry so much. For my entire life, I would struggle with my weight. And one day, 5 years ago – something just clicked. I promised myself, that I deserved to take care of myself – -that I can’t / shouldn’t depend on anyone to make any sort of decision for me. I finally made myself a top priority.
And now, five years later – I exercise 4 times a week – eat a whole lot healthier – indulge when I see fit – - but I laugh more, I’m excited about life and I’ve fallen in love with myself ( I know that sounds tacky … lol).
I’m so proud of you, really – - you’ve done a phenomenal job and I wish you continued success :)

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78 Kathleen February 27, 2012 at 8:50 am

You look absolutely a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

Congrats on your hard work and perseverance!

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79 Lisa [With Style and Grace] February 27, 2012 at 8:53 am

Dara, you look INCREDIBLE!!! So proud of you & your weight loss journey, huge congrats to you my dear!

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80 TidyMom February 27, 2012 at 8:55 am

GIRL you look AMAZING!! so proud of you!!!

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81 Liren February 27, 2012 at 8:55 am

Dara, you are beautiful no matter what, but gosh, you are stunning and glowing from within! I am so proud of you for what you’ve accomplished and for sharing your story!

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82 Barbara | Creative Culinary February 27, 2012 at 8:56 am

It’s been said by many but still heartfelt when I say this to you Dara, huge congratulations for your success and even more thanks for sharing it. It is inspiring to see someone take hold of their life in such a positive way. You were always cute but now you are cute and glowing!

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83 megan @ whatmegansmaking February 27, 2012 at 8:56 am

You look beautiful! What a wonderful post. Congratulations :)

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84 Amy @ The Nifty Foodie February 27, 2012 at 8:57 am

WOW! You look amazing, Dara! And you are a running rock-star! I’m trying to lose weight too, and I’m introducing running (more like a walk/jog combination which I lovingly call wogging) into my exercise routine! I can run for about a minute at this point, but would love to get to where you are someday! Such an inspiration! :-)

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85 Rhonda Halliday February 27, 2012 at 9:01 am

Dara, my friend and my inspiration…you totally ROCK!!! Thank you for sharing this journey here with your friends, family and fans of Cookin Canuk. Congrats to you and I am hoping some of that motivation will rub off on me :). Cheers!!!
Rhonda

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86 Heidi @ Food Doodles February 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

You look amazing!! Congratulations! You’ve done a really amazing thing, keep it up!

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87 Joanne February 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

Dara thank you for telling about your journey. Your very inspirational and very informative. You look great.

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88 Donna February 27, 2012 at 9:05 am

You are an inspiration…..you were pretty before but you are beautiful now!

I am currently entering week two of “I’ve had enough” and trying to wrap my head around finding a healthier, smaller me! I know how hard it can be I’ve been working on this off & on for 4 years now. Struggling with weight loss has never really been a big deal for me. It used to be I’d just cut back and the weight would fall off. I’ll be 55 in May and I guess things have changed, currently I am carrying 10 Lbs. that just seem to want to stay put.

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89 the Fromagette February 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

Dara, you look GREAT!! You’re a total rock star! You celebrated at Nordies, right ?

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90 Fuji Mama February 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

You look INCREDIBLE!!!! You’ve always been beautiful, but now you look beautiful and about 18. ;) Can you hear me whistling from SoCal? XO

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91 Kay @ The Church Cook February 27, 2012 at 9:21 am

Dara! You look fabulous and I know you feel fabulous! This must have been a difficult journey but it is truly inspiring to witness you are doing it with joy! Thank you for sharing dear friend!

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92 Tina February 27, 2012 at 9:25 am

Love your balanced approach. Thanks for sharing!

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93 Bree February 27, 2012 at 9:29 am

Dana!!! You look so amazing. I am so proud of you. It takes a lot of determination and hard work to be able to do that.

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94 Lana February 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

Dara, you are absolutely beaming on those after photos:) Congratulations! I am positive you are going to accomplish whatever you set your mind to.
Thanks for such an inspirational post – we all need a little nudge from time to time:) As the years creep up, the weight slowly accumulates and it’s much harder to get rid of it.
I have been on a quest to drop about 20 lbs for a few weeks and it’s going agonizingly slow. After reading about your success, I’ll stop complaining and continue without grumbling! Way to go!

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95 nina February 27, 2012 at 9:33 am

Dara, your journey is an inspiration! I just came across your blog today…I look forward to going back and reading more of your posts!

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96 Lauren at Keep It Sweet February 27, 2012 at 9:36 am

I am so happy for you Dara, your hard work has certainly paid off. Thank you for sharing this with all of us!

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97 Julia February 27, 2012 at 9:42 am

I have 400 million things to say about this, but Ill just say a few. 1. You look REMARKABLE! You are seriously beaming in your ‘now’ picture! 2. I had my first cup of Bengal Spice 2 weeks ago and am hooked. That stuff is delicious!!! 3. Thank you for sharing this. Hearing vulnerable, honest stories from other bloggers is so inspiring and encouraging! Keep up the good work!

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98 Brenna February 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

You. Look. Wonderful!! Thank you for sharing, seriously. I’ve been doing Weight Watchers since Labor Day and have taken off more than 35 pounds, but it’s still frustrating sometimes that I’m still not where I want to be. And it’s hard to see a change in yourself until you start looking at pictures like this! I’m about to embark on running (I HATE running) as my newest goal. Here’s to being healthy!

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99 Annalise February 27, 2012 at 9:48 am

I still can’t believe how fantastic you look! Congrats!!! And you’ve inspired me, I can’t wait to get this baby out and get to work on all this baby weight.

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100 Nicole C February 27, 2012 at 10:03 am

Dara,
I typically don’t leave blog comments, but I couldn’t resist on this post. You look amazing! Kudos to you for sharing your experience and being so open to your readers.

Our health truly is our wealth. I wish you and your family much success on your journey!

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101 Brenda@SugarFreeMom February 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

A wonderfully inspiring and honest journey/story! I love looking back at the pics because it truly shows how far you’ve come with good hard work! You look so wonderful and much younger too! Keep it up! Maintaining is the toughest challenge because it is for the rest of your life but you are certainly on the right track to do just that!

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102 April February 27, 2012 at 10:19 am

Dara, your story is both amazing and inspiring. In today’s world of family, full time work, and in my case nursing school I thought it would be impossible to give myself the proper attention needed to stay in shape. I am proud to say that I am on week 3 of my personal body transformation. I use the livestrong.com website and app (very similar to my fitness pal), make my week day food on Sundays, and bring my hefty stack of school note cards to the gym. I also am becoming scuba certified which is great for stress relief, and burns at least 300 calories per half hour (in cold water)! I am glad to have stumbled upon your website, and truly enjoyed reading your candid post. You look fantastic!

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103 Natalie February 27, 2012 at 10:19 am

Dara, you look fantastic!! I loved your story. And might I add that the transformation has left you looking younger as well? Congrats and good luck with your half marathon!!

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104 Carol February 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

Beautiful post. Thank you!

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105 Jenise February 27, 2012 at 10:28 am

You look like you lost 10 years as well! Great work you look awesome!

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106 shirley woolward February 27, 2012 at 10:40 am

wow, what an inspiring read this was – thank you ! so great to see your photos, you look great – way to go !

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107 Sasha February 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

You look amazing. You look like you are much younger now, too. I lost 130 pounds over 4 years, so I know how difficult it is, but it was worth it. I love the My Fitness Pal app, too! I have been most successful when I kept a food diary, too. I agree that the more active you are and the better you eat, the less of the bad stuff you want.
Thanks for the inspiration and keep the great recipes coming!

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108 ceecee February 27, 2012 at 10:50 am

Dara, you look amazing! Be very proud of yourself – what a lot of dedication changes like that take!

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109 Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray (Soon to be Rachel Cooks) February 27, 2012 at 10:58 am

Thanks for sharing! You look FANTASTIC! Congrats :) Very inspiring.

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110 merium February 27, 2012 at 10:58 am

You look fabulous!! I lost 33 lbs. last year~by altering my food intake and power walking like a mad woman! I think you just have to be ready to do the work, I hated that it was so hard to find clothing that fit and disliked wearing a ‘fat-sucking garment’ aka spanx, underneath. Think I’ve lost about 15 inches total from bust, waist and hips, and have dropped several sizes. It’s a huge accomplishment! Congratulations on taking charge of your health, and on your weight loss! So worth all the hard work!

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111 Lisa February 27, 2012 at 11:01 am

I was meant to find your blog today. This is my first visit and your post has touched me in so many ways. 1. I started my ‘journey’ (again) today. 2. when you said you’d lose weight, see the results, pat yourself on the back and then go back to your old ways….you described me…and I thought I was the only one that did that. 3. sharing your success is so inspiring. You have made me feel like I don’t need to try anymore extreme diets. I just need to make good choices and remember calories in / calories out. I am sooo going to pop on my walking shoes (I don’t think I could run down the driveway!) ..and go for a walk.
**Your before and after photos are amazing!! I can see that you are beautiful on the inside and the outside! I will definitely be back..
{hugs} -lisa.

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112 patti February 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Lisa, this sounds exactly like me as well. don’t know why we do this to ourselves. going to start once again, for about the fifth time this year.
I must say Dara, I can’t believe you’ve only lost 25 pounds. You look marvelous!

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113 Sandy February 27, 2012 at 11:09 am

Dara! From great to gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your journey. I am on one myself and to tell you the truth, I was loosing steam. You have inspired me to stay tough.

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114 Asiya February 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

Congratulations! You look fantastic! Thx for sharing your story…ever since I’ve had my kids I feel like the pounds just keep piling on. Now I feel more motivated to get moving after reading your story..and thank you for sharing the info on the app you used. Sounds very useful.

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115 Jen from How To: Simplify February 27, 2012 at 11:21 am

You are so inspiring, Dara! You look fabulous! You have always been a beautiful person inside and out! Thank you so much for sharing your story!

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116 Donalyn February 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

Dara – you look wonderful, but even more importantly, it is obvious that you are feeling so much better too. Thanks for sharing – it is an inspiration!

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117 Karen @ Trilogy Edibles February 27, 2012 at 11:25 am

Wow Dara, you look amazing. I just started my own healthier journey after a bout of illness and laziness. Congrats, I needed a little boost today!

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118 heather February 27, 2012 at 11:31 am

What an inspiration…you look amazing and healthy and energy filled is always the best way to feel!

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119 Jeanette February 27, 2012 at 11:32 am

Dara, I really enjoyed reading about your journey and your perseverance. Love all the honest tips and advice. You are beautiful inside and out.

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120 Wenderly February 27, 2012 at 11:43 am

WOWAZA girlie! You look mahvelous! I’ve always thought that you are perfectly darling, (inside as well as out) but now you just SHINE!! I’m going through a similar journey myself. Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story love!

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121 Michell @ Girl In Air February 27, 2012 at 11:49 am

What a wonderful transformation! I have been waiting to share my own weight loss story…I’m down 20lbs but my before and after doesn’t look anywhere near has fabulous….maybe need to wait for my 30lb lose..

very inspiring! Great food too thanks for sharing!

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122 Heather February 27, 2012 at 11:51 am

Wow, you look amazing! What a wonderful reward to your hard work. I use MyFitnessPal, too, and I love it. I just recently started using it, but in the last 2 years I’ve lost 46 pounds on my own, and it feels great!

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123 Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet February 27, 2012 at 11:52 am

GIRL! I am so proud of you!! You are an amazing inspiration!! If you can rock a sweater in a photo – you know you’re doing great. Great job Dara!! I need to follow your lead – I’m feeling the “I don’t want my picture taken blues”. Keep up the great work!!!

xoxo
Heather

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124 Traci February 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

Dara, weight loss is a rough journey! I have been doing intense workouts like p90x and Insanity and doing Weight Watchers. (I hate “dieting” and feel that eating good foods is more important). I am so proud of you. I know what a struggle it can be and wish you continued success as you maintain your new lifestyle. Thank you for your inspiring story!

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125 Lora @cakeduchess February 27, 2012 at 11:58 am

Bella Dara! Bellissima! You were always gorgeous. Your smile is beaming with pride as it should be. You worked very hard go get to this point. I’m so impressed with your running. You’re so lucky to have a friend to keep you motivated and run with you. You ave a beautiful family. Love the first foto of your svelte hips…so sassy! xo

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126 Jamie Cooks It Up! February 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm

You go girl! You look just wonderful. Good for you. :)

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127 Jessica Allison February 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm

You look amazing! So much younger and healthier. Congratulations! I started my weight loss journey on January 8th of this year, for many of the same reasons that you listed. I was embarassed to have my photo taken, and hated everyone of the ones that did manage to slip past me, which made me so sad because I have a little guy that I want to take pictures with. I felt terrible, and was having more aches and pains than any 32 year old should. The morning I started my new lifestyle I had found a pin on Pinterest that said “A year from now you will wish you had started today,” and that really clicked for me. I started using Lose It! (an app similar to My Fitness Pal, and for the first time I have been successful! I’ve lost 13 pounds, and I feel like I will actually make it all the way to my goal. I’m so excited! Thank you for sharing your fabulous results-it’s inspiring to so many!

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128 Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles February 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Holy cow, you look incredible!!! I’m so happy for you and your new life style!

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129 Katrina February 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Inspiring! You look great!

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130 Alessa February 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Holy smokes! You look AMAZING. I’ve just started my voyage towards eating better and exercising more. You are inspiring.

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131 Lora February 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm

You look fantastic. Congratulations. Well done!

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132 Darcie (MyModern Country) February 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm

You are a AMAZING, and such an inspiration. I have watched my 22 yr. old daughter struggle with her weight loss journey for years, and I plan on sharing your story with her…

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133 Salad in a Jar February 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Dara,
Love your story. You are courageous to share so honestly. I’m impressed with the change of your hairstyle and color. What a dramatic difference! So cute.

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134 Rosina February 27, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Oh congratulations!!! That is fantastic and you look awesome :) Thanks so much for sharing and I always look forward to your recipes in my inbox. I’m currently working on changing my eating and losing weight all without actually doing some sort of diet so this is really inspiring :)

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135 Jace February 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Congrats!!! You look great!!!

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136 Amy T. February 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Dara, you look amazing! You look 10 years younger than you did the last time I saw you–what is that, like, 5 years ago?! I’ll bet Steve can’t take his eyes off you. ;)

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137 Pamela February 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

You look fantastic! I too have started and stopped my weight loss journey multiple times! Most recently I gained 20 pounds after my mom died. I am trying not to eat my feelings but it’s tough. You are definitely an inspiration!

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138 Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction February 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

That is an amazing story, and you look absolutely fabulous and gorgeous!! And, it’s so fabulous that you did it the right way and still ate fabulous tasty food! I, too, have loved using MyFitnessPal… It’s a great app!

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139 kellypea February 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

What a wonderful post — and congrats to you on your hard work and success! You look stunning. I have to confess, I thought you were older. It’s always fun to hear about how others go about making these kind of changes in their lives. Your routine sounds great, and clearly, it’s paid off. I’ll have to add you to my list of inspirational people as I continue with my efforts. I’m just short of two months and nudging 12 lbs. lost. Lots to go, but motivated every single day. Thanks for sharing this — truly enjoyed it.

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140 Kim Beaulieu February 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Dara this is such a huge inspiration for the rest of us who are trying to lose. You looked amazing before and you look more amazing now. Love all the pictures. I keep getting stumped by how to do it if you can’t eat whole wheat or grains. I will figure it out. Any time I need a boost I’ll just scoot back here for some motivation. You should be so proud of yourself. It takes a ton of dedication and hard work. Well done girl!

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141 Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts February 27, 2012 at 1:35 pm

You look awesome! Congrats on your weight loss! I have done the up and down thing for far too long! Just last week I started to kick my butt in gear and get back on track. So far so good, I hope I can write a post like this in 6 months!

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142 Monet February 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Oh my goodness! What an inspirational post. I’m so glad you shared with us. It made me thankful that I know such an amazing woman. I know you have made this journey more accessible to so many more people now. Thank you again for being you!

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143 eila @ the full plate blog February 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm

WOW. I hope that this post provides tremendous encouragement to anyone trying to lead a more healthful life. Your before and after photos, oh my. It’s like you took YEARS off. Congratulations.

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144 Shirley @ gfe February 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm

You look stunning, Dara! Absolutely stunning! Congrats, dear! :-)

Shirley

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145 Big City Eater February 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Congrats to you, my fellow Canadian! Glad to see you have the exercise element in play with your plan. Keep up the good work. :)

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146 melaniemusings2 February 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Dara you look great!!Boundless enegry is great!!I am on a new diet–more veggies–raw ones-salads–green stuff in smoothies..and I feel great too.

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147 Sara{OneTribeGourmet} February 27, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Dara, you are an AMAZING woman and you are an inspiration to me! Congratulations and you look absolutely gorgeous! xoxo

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148 Nancy L February 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

WOW!!! You should be so proud of yourself! That is an amazing change from September to now. Such an inspiration to us all!

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149 Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen February 27, 2012 at 2:43 pm

You are gorgeous and positively glowing from the inside out. You look truly happy! You are a hot mamma! This is truly inspiring since I just started running again last month :)

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150 Kimiko February 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

AAHH! You look GREAT! Really great! Congrats to you! :)

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151 Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking February 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Dara, you look incredible but more importantly you FEEL incredible too! What a wonderful transformation and lifestyle change. Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished so far!

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152 Kankana February 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

This is absolutely incredible and so inspiring! I need to show this post to my husband and we need to start something on the similar line ASAP. This helped a lot :)

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153 Kimby February 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Dara, you look TERRIFIC (the last photo says it all…) — but more importantly, you FEEL terrific. The decisions you’ve made, the effort you’ve put in, the lifestyle you’re leading — all point to “following your heart.” I think that’s the answer to the elusive ‘not sure why it stuck this time’ musing. Congrats!!! (And thanks for the inspiration!)

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154 claudia lamascolo/aka pegasuslegend February 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Great results congrats my dear you look marvelous!

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155 Elise February 27, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Hi Dara,
What an inspiration, thank you!

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156 JulieD February 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Huge congrats to you, Dara!! You look amazing!!! You’re so beautiful and inspiring!

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157 Donna February 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm

When I saw you a few weeks ago, there was this “glow” about you that was noticeable. Now I know why!

The longer I live, the more I believe in moderation in all things food. I love Michael Pollan’s philosophy: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I believe that many of us struggle to discover what is that “not too much” for us. I am so happy for you that you have found your balance – you look so happy and healthy and peaceful ~ CONGRATS!

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158 Sherri P eh February 27, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Awesome awesome awesome Dara! You look mahvelous my dear, and I’m sure you’re feeling great!! Way to go!!

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159 Laura February 27, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Great job! You look amazing!

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160 Julia {The Roasted Root} February 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm

You look great! My brother introduced me to fitness pal. I like it because it breaks down protein, sugar, carbs, fat, etc…I tend to not pay attention to how much protein I eat each day versus carbs, so I find that part of fitness pal very helpful. Congrats on your success and keep up the great work! and I love your blog!

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161 heidi February 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Congratulations!!!!!!! you look fantastic, and I am most impressed that a foodie like yourself is able to achieve these results. Keep up the great work – you are an inspiration!

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162 Robert February 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Congratulation on your success and thanks for the share

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163 Ree February 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Could you look any more stunning? So, so proud of you, Dara!

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164 hanna February 27, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I had a hard time believing it was the same person,
you look 10 yrs younger now!

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165 Angela @ The Dancer Bakes February 27, 2012 at 7:49 pm

You look SO beautiful, healthy, and happy! I’m a dancer, so I’m constantly trying to find that perfect balance just like you – I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from recipes I’ve found here, and I can’t wait to try more of them! Congratulations on such a successful journey :)

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166 Julie February 27, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Wow – you look seriously 15 years younger! I have been doing Myfitnesspal since last July, and with the help of a dietician for the past 7 or so months, I have lost 42 pounds. Still want to lose at least another 40 before I turn 40 in September.

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167 Laurie @SimplyScratch February 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm

You are stunning! What an amazing journey, Dara… you.are.inspiring! Xo

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168 Jen at The Three Little Piglets February 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

That is AWESOME! So inspiring! And you look amazing!!! I saw the new profile picture on Twitter earlier and now I’m so thrilled for you to see the rest of them. You should be so proud!

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169 Diane (Created by Diane ) February 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm

You are so inspiring Dara, I loved reading your story. What a great accomplishment! XXXOOO

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170 Marla February 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Finally, I just had some more time to review this amazing post. Gosh Dara, not only are you beaming but you look so much younger too. Amazing how much a healthy weight can change a person’s life. Truly I am so proud of you & I love seeing us together in these photos :)

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171 Rachel @ Following In My Shoes February 27, 2012 at 10:59 pm

I love, love, love this. Your after pictures are amazing and i traded up seeing how much JOY is shining from you.

So glad to hear you talk about that app. I downloaded it yesterday to assist me in losing the baby weight that has stuck around for the past six months since the birth of my youngest. I love the calorie in/out aspect of I.

Anyway, many wishes of continued success… You look fantastic. Thank you for sharing something so personal.

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172 Cathy/ShowFoodChef February 27, 2012 at 11:28 pm

Dara, Dear, Dara – OK, I’ve always thought you were gorgeous, beautiful skin, amazing person anyway and now – it has just multiplied! Leave it to you to be inspiring to others even while working on yourself. Much love and admiration!

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173 snacksgiving February 28, 2012 at 5:42 am

Wow! What a stunning transformation! Seriously.
I am at a stage where I really need to shed some excess pounds – and what an inspirational story you have! Thank you for sharing it.

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174 Sunny Hernandez (@foryourpiesonly) February 28, 2012 at 6:05 am

Congratulations! This blog post couldn’t have come at a better time. I am also on a weight loss journey…a big one…to become half my size! So far I am 38 pounds down and counting. I use the “LoseIt” app which I hear is similar to MyFitnessPal. Being accountable for calories & exercise really works! I’ve also signed up to run my first 5k in May…I’ve never been a runner before, so this is all exciting/frustrating/rewarding.

Thanks for being my daily dose of inspiration :)

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175 Amanda February 28, 2012 at 6:14 am

So, SO , so proud of you! This is the hardest thing in the world and you DID IT!!! The RIGHT way. You are an inspiration girl!!

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176 Robyn | Add a Pinch February 28, 2012 at 7:12 am

Dara, I am so proud of you and inspired by you! As I read your post, I felt like you just HAD to have been peaking into my life! :) Congratulations on your journey. You were always gorgeous before, but now you look absolutely glowing with happiness!

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177 Amy February 28, 2012 at 8:00 am

Incredible!!! You’ve always been a beauty, inside and out, but there’s no substitute for that healthy glow that you’re sporting now. Thanks so much for sharing. I always get in a rut with the eating, so it’s good to see some healthy suggestions, that are easy too!

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178 Natalie February 28, 2012 at 8:03 am

Congratulations to your achievement and to be able to really switch to a healthier lifestyle. Looking at the before and after pics, I have to say that you look amazing! Full of happiness and with this healthy glow!

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179 Laura February 28, 2012 at 8:07 am

Congratulations on such a momentous achievement! I’ve just found your site and absolutely love it! I will visit regularly for sure!

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180 Marcia February 28, 2012 at 9:35 am

Oh my gosh! You look so beautiful! I have been struggling to get back on my healthy eating habits. You are my inspiration! I’m starting today! Thank you for this post and great job!

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181 Becky at VintageMixer February 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

So proud of you Dara!! This is a huge accomplishment. You are a beautiful lady inside and out!

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182 Radhika > Just Home Made February 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Dara, You look fantastic and your smile says how fabulous you must be feeling as well! Congratulations…
Way to go!

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183 Jennifer February 28, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Wow what an inspiring post and journey. You look absolutely amazing! Congratulations!

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184 Cheryl February 28, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I have just been introduced to your blog – and love it. And this post was especially inspirational for me. And lately I have needed all the inspiration that I can get. This is really great! Thanks for sharing!

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185 Christina C. February 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Dara,
You look so good and you are an inspiration! I have to tell you, I like many, have been the up & down girl too… and I’m on the up, but lately I have really been thinking a LOT about getting myself back into shape and trying to figure out how to make the down “stick” like you said. I stumbled upon your site via The Pioneer Woman’s site and I feel like it’s a sign. You have given me some extra motivation and I’m going to download that app and BE HONEST about the calories in/calories out. Wish me luck! I hope I’m as sucessful as you!
Thanks for the inspiration!!

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186 foodwanderings February 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Wow Dara, I never thought of you as heavy but I see the journey now and am so inspired by you. Such a lovely family you got and you are always have such a positive presence on twitterverse!! Now I need to shed my extra baggage!! :)

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187 Tracy February 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Congratulations to you on your weight loss! You are an inspiration!

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188 Pam February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Dara,
You look terrific. That much exercise plus the change in eating habits is a great recipe for success. Good work!

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189 Kristi Rimkus February 28, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Congratulations! My weight loss journey 15 years ago sparked the inspiration for my blog. It’s kept me working on a healthy lifestyle (most of the time anyway). Keep up the good work. You look fantastic, and I’ll bet you feel just as good. :)

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190 Jill Frank February 28, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I am just starting mine – for the second time… You can read along in my blog http://simple-yes-easy-no.blogspot.com/. I will be checking out your recipes! I have REALLY picky kids and I refuse to make multiple meals. It will be interesting to see what I can come up with! Thanks for the inspiration.

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191 Dianne@Maids February 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm

love your smile. i like to loss weight also haha.
keep it up and good luck everyday .

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192 Christy February 28, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Congratulations on your success, and you looked absolutely healthy and beautiful!:)
I am sure it has not been easy, but your determination and positive spirit makes it possible and now you can keep the big smile on!:) Cheers gal!;)

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193 Sukaina February 29, 2012 at 1:57 am

Dara, when I’m done breastfeeding, I’m going to come back and refer to this post. Both for tips and inspiration! Well done again. You look super!

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194 Elizabeth @Mango_Queen February 29, 2012 at 9:09 am

What an inspiring story! I salute you ! You’re “after” photos are fabulous. Keep up the good work. Thanks for sharing this story!

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195 Megan February 29, 2012 at 9:31 am

You look so lovely, and much younger!

I have also been using My Fitness Pal but my trouble is much like yours had been – I’ll make poor choices as long as they are “under calorie”. I’m working on it though, and I have been making slow progress. Thanks for sharing your story and tips.

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196 Judee @ Gluten Free A-Z February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Dara,
You look fabulous. Thanks for sharing your story. Who doesn’t struggle with weight. Up and down , up and down, Your post is very inspirational. thanks for sharing.

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197 Tiffany February 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Dara,

What can I say that anyone hasn’t already? Doesn’t matter… You look incredible! Wow! I’m blown away. You look so pretty and young. I am proud of you lady :)

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198 bellini March 1, 2012 at 4:14 am

I really had to scroll down quite far with all the comments of people congratulating you. Good for you for changing the way you think about food and getting on the road to a lifetime of enjoyment.

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199 Cassia March 1, 2012 at 9:01 am

I found your blog and your story via Pinterest and I am so grateful for the wonderful inspiration. I am like you and have had many false starts, but at some point things just stuck and it became easier to eat healthy and exercise than to not. But enough about me. You look amazing! Not only do you look healthier and happier, but you look 10 years younger! I sure hope weight loss does the same for me.

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200 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective March 1, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Dara, you are an amazing woman! It takes an enormous amount of willpower and motivation to do what you’ve done. I’m so inspired and I’ve gotta say, you are one hot momma!

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201 Mom Foodie March 2, 2012 at 5:19 am

Awesome job! I’ve been doing pretty well so far this year, with my own weight loss, but have been slacking terribly the past week… I think you just gave me the kickstart I needed to get back on track. Thanks :)

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202 naomi March 2, 2012 at 11:43 am

wow- so inspirational! truly awesome and I love how shared this journey. It will be so encouraging for many others. Thank you for sharing.

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203 Diana@Spain-In-Iowa March 2, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Dara, you look phenomenol! What an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your journey!

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204 Darla | Bakingdom March 2, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Great job, Dara! You’re beautiful!

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205 JenE March 3, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Hooray for you! I have been through a similar journey over the past year and a half, except I’ve lost 60 pounds… and I’ll say to you what so many have said to me: YOU LOOK SO MUCH YOUNGER!!!
Thanks to a lot more cooking, a lot more purposeful moving (I’m a runner too but minus an ACL has put a damper on that) and a lot less processed foods I’m healthier, happier and looking forward to added years w/ my husband and kids.

Here’s to us!
Jen

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206 Cooking on a Dime March 3, 2012 at 2:53 pm

You look amazing! All of your hard word paid off big time!

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207 Liz March 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

You were beautiful before, but now you’re just glowing with health and pride! You truly look amazing…congratulations on your hard work paying off!

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208 Katy March 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

You’ve done a great job..and getting healthy at the same time! Congrats to you! I am MORE than ready to get started myself, dealing with hormonal changes (who me, aging??) had joined Myfitnesspal last summer…and ahem, like you, fell off the wagon after a month! I have since joined a gym and am really wanting to give it a go…being a non meat eater (do eat fish and some dairy) I do eat relatively healthy and find SNACKS are my issue. Thanks again for the inspiration!

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209 Jackie Thompson March 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Wow! Congratulations on achieving such a healthy lifestyle – for you and your family. You look fantastic and so happy! I’m inspired!

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210 Crystal March 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I came here for your Salad Cups recipe, and clicked on the weight loss link. You look like 2 different people! Whoa! And that is a 25 lb difference? Wowzers. Inspirational. Fo sho.

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211 Deliciously Organic March 7, 2012 at 9:47 am

I’m so thrilled for you! You are an inspiration to many!

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212 Chris @ TheKeenanCookbook March 7, 2012 at 11:26 am

What an inspiring post! Thank you for sharing with us. Since having Baby Boy last year, our activity levels, and energy levels, have dropped significantly. While we are now all sleeping through the night, it’s been hard to get our butts back on the treadmill and into our old, healthier routines. You look wonderful, sound healthy and enjoying the new healthier routine, and your recipes sound great. Inspiration for us to do the same!

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213 Jennifer | Mother Thyme March 8, 2012 at 11:04 am

You are truly inspiring! You look amazing! Thank you for sharing your journey and your routine.

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214 Quyen - Kitchen Runway March 8, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Dara! What an amazing and inspirational story. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I definitely understand that feeling when you start losing weight and then yo-yo back. That’s the story of my life. Your determination and discipline inspires me. Take care and yay to health! Hope to see you again soon!

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215 Rebekah DeLibro March 9, 2012 at 7:26 am

Dara, congratulations on your determination and accomplishments! I am also a runner and really wish I had a friend to wake up with me at 5:30 am to help motivate me more. I much rather get up early and get my run in before the “circus” begins lol. I love food and my husband and I are dedicated localvores and want to feed our family the most nutritionally best food possible. Let me just say I found your blog by searching for “chicken salad with basil” your recipe looks wonderful and going to make it for dinner this evening. You look fabulous and years younger! Keep blogging , running and eating well :-)

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216 Sherri Beattie March 13, 2012 at 7:35 am

You look amazing! I run and run and I love running but I don’t lose any weight! My running partner and I both had our thyroids checked and yup we are normal just fat! I downloaded the app this morning and it is amazing. Thank you Thank you for putting your story out there! I am starting my weight loss journey (again) today!

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217 Roz@weightingfor50 March 13, 2012 at 8:41 am

Hi Dara. WOW…you look incredible. You are proof positive that determination and hard work pay off, and also that you can eat GREAT (and gorgeous) meals while you lose weight. Congrats on all of your success. (success in weight loss, but also having such a great blog!!!!!) Have a great day. (from one Canuck to another. I’m in Vancouver….)

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218 Allergy Mom March 14, 2012 at 6:57 am

Hi..

I know how it feels to shed those pounds. I have also been exercising and watching my calories. I’ve lost 140 pounds over the past 2 years. I was a really big person and life was becoming difficult. I could not go up the stairs without panting and my blood pressure was through the roof. So I had to do something. I started eating healthy foods and exercising 4 times a week. I went down from a size 4X to a size Small. It feels great! I admire what you’ve done. You look amazing!

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219 Sarah March 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm

You look great, radiant! Good luck with the half marathon, will be rooting for you from the other side of the world.

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220 angela@spinachtiger March 18, 2012 at 9:18 am

Congratulations. You look years younger and it’s very encouraging to see. I’ve lost almost 20 pounds since I got married 13 years ago, but very slowly, a few pounds a year (usually people go the opposite way). I have about 8 pounds to go and now I”m encouraged to get back to MFP. I’ve slacked off there the last few weeks being sick. You look wonderful.

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221 Sweetsugarbelle March 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm

What a feeling! Way to go, you are one beautiful lady!

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222 Elena @MTJW March 19, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Congrats! I’m in the middle of a weight-loss challenge myself (15lbs so far in 3 months). For me what has really stuck was committing to P90X. It’s not as scary as most people think! I love the motivation. My go-to diet recipe has been curried lentils. I don’t use as much cheese or fries as in this pictures of course but it still fills me up a surprising amount and for a long time. Check out the recipe and vote for it in the Recipe Revelations contest by “liking” it on Facebook!

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=726894601422&set=o.204564329588016&type=1

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223 Natalija March 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I just discovered your blog through someone mentioning your Hearty Chicken Stew w/ Butternut Squash recipe on Twitter and immediately went to your “Before and After” post. What an amazing transformation! You look like a younger version of your former self. Mindless eating is exactly what gets most people into trouble. Thank you for the inspiration and for sharing your story with the world.

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224 debbie hulbert March 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

You look fabulous! I am 18 lbs down….30 to go. The weight gain reminds me of a poem by Carl Sandburg (replace fog with pounds/weight) THE fog comes. on little cat feet.

My daughter is about to get married and talking about becoming a mother some day…which led me to realize that being overweight and following in the unhealthy footsteps of MY mother was not the way I wanted to go. I lost my mom to cardiovascular disease way too early. I want to be around for my daughter, my son, and their children – and have energy to play!

So, finally, I began to look at weight loss as a positive and to realize that a diet wouldn’t help…but a massive lifestyle/eating habits change would. I now eat six small healthy meals a day (every three hours like clockwork). Fresh Veggies, lean protein…will add fruit back in once I’ve lost more weight. No more simple carbs, no more convenience food.

That doesn’t mean I can’t eat cake on her wedding day, but in moderation. These treats should be treats and not daily doses of sugar and carbs.

So far so good. I hope to look as fabulous as you do soon!

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225 Nicole April 3, 2012 at 7:28 am

Wow…what an inspiration. I have enver read your story and it is amazing. I think losing weight is also a bit more than just calories in/calories out as you said in the contest….it is also consumption of the right calories…you can have the same amount of calories in some chips as you do with a handful of strawberries and still not lose weight. You are not going to lose the weight with the chips because of all the chemicals. I love the books Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Micheals and The Science of Slim by Jonathan Bailor. They are eyeopeners.

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226 SeattleDee April 4, 2012 at 11:12 am

Dara, you rock! Thanks for sharing the story of your weight loss journey, without preaching but full of specifics. Myself, I’m a pro on theory and a practiced diet “starter”, the only person I know who actually gained pounds using Weight Watchers online, etc. So now I’m using MFP and rediscovering old truths..Use a scale to weigh everything… You can’t be a couch potato and wait for magic to happen, exercise counts… healthy food choices and portion control are critical… and it takes a lifelong lifestyle change, not an occasional effort.

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227 Jo April 6, 2012 at 6:01 pm

November 2002 was my 40th Birthday and I promised myself that I would not look the way I did. And I didn’t. It was the first time in my life that I felt beautiful. I had lost 82 pounds and had 42 more to go!
And then the MonSter dropped like a brick. I am referring to Multiple Sclerosis and when you have a flare you get to take STEROIDS. And they make you GAIN. Horrible, horrible things but we know have another option. I digress.
I gained and then I lost about 50 and I was kicking it – 3 miles in 30 minutes on the Elliptical.
2011 started out with my beginning to lose my sight, just part of a horrible relapse. My Neuro said it was the worst I had ever looked. I spent the later half of 2011 going to PT and working out. And then I started to gain weight and I had no idea why. I found out last week that I am now on top of everything else diabetic. Barely, very early, control with diet and exercise. And that is how I found you looking for Quinoa recipe’s because they are a better carb than anything else.

Now to figure out how to make a dairy free, gluten free, sugar-free birthday cake for my husbands 60th birthday!

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228 Lorna O April 9, 2012 at 8:09 am

You are amazing! I love your story and hope to have a success story of my own too.

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229 Faith @ Artistic31Mama April 13, 2012 at 8:46 am

Wow you look amazing! My story is so similar to yours! I also started using the MyFitnessPal app and going to the gym every day with a friend. It is exactly like you said…calories in, calories out. It REALLY does help to have a work out buddy waiting for you on those mornings when it’s hard to roll out of bed. So far I’ve lost about 40lbs in six months and still have about 28 more I would like to lose. Thanks for the inspiration. Love your blog!! :-)

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230 Rita Carrasco April 21, 2012 at 10:03 am

I discovered MyFitnessPal from a friend a few months ago and it has truly changed my life. I didn’t realize something as simple as tracking my food intake and daily activity would transform me so much. The other piece of the puzzle for me has been blogs like yours and Pinterest and my husband getting laid off. Everything started working together; the tracking, the recipe ideas and support and cutting way back on our grocery bill and eating out. I am amazed at the delicious, healthy and inexpensive meals we are able to put together. So far I’m nineteen pounds lighter and I’m finally not on a diet. I’m just living the best life I can and eating the best food. It feels great. I wish you much continued success.

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231 Jen April 21, 2012 at 11:18 am

Dear goodness woman…did you Benjamin Button yourself? You look fantastic! Not only do you look more confident and healthier, you look an easy 15-20 years younger. Weight loss is such a hard journey and you got through it wonderfully. Congratulations!

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232 shruti April 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm

congrats on your achievement dara !! you look stunning ….inspiring story :-)

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233 madge @ vegetariancasserolequeen April 22, 2012 at 3:28 am

Congratulations Dara! Not only are you thinner, you look 10 years younger!

Very inspirational…

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234 Laura @ Family Spice April 22, 2012 at 10:50 am

I agree with everyone: You look fabulous, happy and 10 years younger! I am totally in my own rut and trying to get my head out of my <> to get back on the wagon again. After years of taking care of my husband and three kids, I stopped taking care of me. Thanks for the inspiration!

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235 Anne Tapp April 24, 2012 at 5:11 am

Thank you for your inspiration. I’m a big fan.

Could you please tell me where I might be able to pick up some spoons like the ones pictured in your berry sorbet photo? Thank you!

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236 Jennifer April 25, 2012 at 2:04 pm

You look fantastic! Congratulations on your journey :)

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237 Aimee @ Food, Je t'Aimee April 27, 2012 at 7:10 am

Hi Dara! I found this post quite belatedly, but I’m so glad I did. You’re an inspiration! You look positively radiant and just exceedingly healthy. Heartfelt congratulations, because as good as you look, I know the greatest reward must be how good you *feel*!

I’ve just recently restarted my on-again-off-again relationship with the treadmill, after almost 2-3 years of neglect. I have about 15-20 pounds to lose to feel prime (where I was 2 years ago!), but being in my 30s now, I need the habits to stick, keeping long-term health in mind. Thank you for this post! I’ll visit it again and again to get ideas and to feel re-engergized.

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238 cookingrookie May 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Wow, Dara, I had a crazy time and have not been to your blog for a while, and now I could not recognize your profile pic. You look amazing! You are my inspiration! I have to do the same thing – probably 25 lbs, maybe more (I’m afraid to approach the scale these days ;-) ). Love your new haircut too! You look so young and healthy – you shine :-)

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239 Delishhh May 16, 2012 at 9:30 am

I know i am a little behind on this post but my little Ella was born when you wrote this. But you look incredible!! WOW what a transformation and the post is awesome !! You look 10 years younger!! Good for you!

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240 Nika May 30, 2012 at 11:09 pm

OMG..U LOOK AT LEAST 20 YEARS YOUNGER!! GREAT JOB!!!

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241 Nami | Just One Cookbook June 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm

I have stumbled onto this post and I’m so grateful to see the whole process. Dara, thank you for being so open about your private life, sharing tips, and being so helpful for others. I’ve gained probably 10 lbs after blogging, and even though Japanese food (that I cook normally) are healthier, yet hours to sit in front of computer has increased and sometimes take my exercise time I used to have. I am not happy that how I gained so much and your post REALLY inspired me to look at my life and prioritize. I hope one day I can proudly share my experience. You did a wonderful job. I bookmarked this post and come back again to re-inspire myself when I get lazy. THANK YOU!

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242 Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings June 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Hi, Dara! I gave birth to baby #3 (last one!) 5 months ago. I need to lose at least 20 pounds still! I’m finding inspiration in your journey, and I hope I’ll make it like you did! I’m a fan! (by the way, I’m also Canadian!).

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243 minnie(@thelady8home) June 21, 2012 at 10:07 am

You are a beautiful lady, and very inspiring…..beautiful family too :) Thank you for sharing your lovely staory with us.

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244 Kathia June 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

What an inspiring blog post. I feel like this is what I needed to really take matters in my own hands and take care of my body. I read Bridget post,visited Katrina and I end up here, I love it. You are beautiful and inspiration. Thank you for sharing this journey. I can’t wait to start running

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245 A Canadian Foodie June 29, 2012 at 9:49 am

I had no idea – but just looked at your photo and thought something was different, then saw the sidebar and thought it looked like an advertizement, but it was in your heading colours – so clicked in.
Congratulations! My 2 cents worth – you were beautiful before, too… but I am sure you didn’t feel that way.
Standing ovation.
Valerie

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246 Renee - Kudos Kitchen July 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Dara, you look mah-velous!!! You were beautiful in your before pictures, but in your after pictures, you look like you’ve aged BACKWARDS! Woah!!!! You go girl! Thank you for all you do to share and encourage people like me, just starting out on this journey of health and fitness! You are my mentor and for this, I thank you ever so much!

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247 Kim July 12, 2012 at 11:52 am

Dara,

Hi. I found your blog on Red Faced Runners. Browsing your blog, I noticed you weight loss story.Wow, what a great job you have done. You look 20 years younger now! I have a similar weight situation here, as do many women. :) I started running in March, I have improved quite a bit for an old, overweight mom. You are such an inspriation and motivation to me! I can’t wait to continue my running journey. Thanks for your inspiration!
Kim

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248 Chris July 22, 2012 at 8:57 am

Three years ago, I dropped 50 pounds in 28 1/2 weeks…..so I understand your journey. Not too many photos of me with my kids when they were younger…because I hated to see myself that way. I dropped another 10 pounds which I continue to ‘find’…and mostly keep, at this point. I need to read about the determination others have had because I can’t seem to figure out how to stay motivated ‘enough’ to get that dreaded 10 off and KEEP it off. Your story is one more to add to my list of rereads. Just when I think it’s down to “all about the exercise”, I remember IT’S NOT. Those little bites here and there add up to those pounds not staying away. It is what it is. It won’t change. I HAVE TO CHANGE. It’s tough to want it badly enough when the “fat between my ears” gets in the way all the time. I am an emotional eater and I still struggle to come to terms with that on a daily basis. The roller coaster just makes me sick so you’d think I’d “get it” by now. Being over 50 certainly doesn’t help either! Good that you’ve conquered it WAY before then! Keep up the good work! (It IS work. HARD work…..)

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249 Rachel @ The Pescetarian and the Pig July 30, 2012 at 11:15 am

It’s amazing how much younger you look in the after photos. It’s like a 10-15 year age difference! Great job! I know from experience how hard the weight-loss journey can be, especially mentally. Congratulations, though! It looks like you’re in it for the long haul!

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250 Jamie Danos August 8, 2012 at 9:49 am

You look amazing! Your story is so familiar to me. I have done the SAME thing for years, diet & exercise, lose 10 pounds or so, reward my self with some time off and before I know I’m starting all over again. I’m very food savy and have tons of ideas for healthy food and “off the hip” recipes. I always say if I can follow my own advice I’d be thin! :( You are a great motivaor. You even look years younger with your weight loss. Amazing how fat can age us. I’m so glad I stumbled across you on twitter and I will now be following you. I hope I can stay strong this time like you have! Thank you for sharing your story and ideas!! I’m looking foward to following you! :)

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251 Mimi August 9, 2012 at 5:58 am

I so totally understand! All my life up and down, up and down. I have a job that requires me attend lots of special events, usually at mealtimes when I am HUNGRY. I end up eating lots of finger foods, and if they are not fruits and vegetables – well, there you go! I’ve blown it. I work out and walk and want to do more of that. Love your blog and photos. Must add a link! You will be a regular stop for me.

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252 Carol August 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Wow you look fantastic. You look 10 years younger. Congratulations on your success. I just started my journey and am encouraged by your story. Thanks for sharing.

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253 Clare Burns September 1, 2012 at 3:35 am

I found you via Pinterest, and am so glad I did! Your story is inspirational, and you and your family look so happy and healthy. I am part way through my own journey to weight loss, and am determined that this time it will be for good. Ever on the lookout for healthy but delicious and appetising meals, your chicken stew with butternut squash recipe caught me eye – and here I am! I will be sure to send my WW friends in your direction :)

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254 Maricel Madrid September 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Congratulations! You look fabulous and about 15 years younger

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255 Diane October 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Congrats on your success!! You look amazing and sooo much younger! You are a beautiful woman and I see beauty shining from within in your eyes. :) Your story is relatable for me. I am not a runner but I started working out and healthy eating to lose weight that has been stubbornly on me for a few years. I would try for a few pounds and then give up. I recently lost 35 lbs and have fallen off the exercise wagon again. I’m not eating the greatest again either. You have inspired me that it can be done. I have about 20 lbs more to lose and suffer from chronic pain. I don’t want to use that as an excuse but that is why healthy eating and exercise is so important for me. I’m going to try your chicken stew with butternut squash. Looks yummy! And thanks for sharing your life with us! :)

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256 Jessi October 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm

You look amazing and you’ve done so well! Thanks for sharing – it’s super inspirational =)

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257 Jennifer October 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm

WOW. You look at least 10 years younger after losing all that weight and getting in shape! Amazing. Good for you.

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258 Lila October 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Howdy! I just made your butternut squash soup (I substituted black lentils for the quinoa bc that is what I had on hand) and it was super delicious! What a great story! I’ve heard how important it is to document weight loss with pictures and you are proof positive. You look like a younger, happier version of the before pictures! Thanks for sharing; I look forward to reading more of your blog.

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259 Beth Schultz October 16, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I just stumbled upon your blog and I rarely comment on people’s blogs but I just loved your blog. Thanks for your encouragement in people’s weight loss journey. Way to go on your weight loss. I loved your photo’s you are lovely!!

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260 Gwendolyn K. October 18, 2012 at 5:07 am

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Your story of this great achievement is a true inspiration to me! I just began a new exercise program to lose about 10lbs. and to help lower my blood pressure, strengthen my circulation! I needed this boost. Losing weight , staying strong and healthy is a life time change and commitment. The results: You LOOK GREAT AND SO BEAUTIFUL! Thank You for sharing of your sweet success. :o) Love your website/recipes too!!!!

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261 LadyAceKitchen October 19, 2012 at 3:26 am

I’m sure someone has said this before, but from your before and after photos, you look like you could be your own daughter! What a transformation. Of course, it’s not just what’s on the outside though. You’re healthier, and your happiness just radiates in all your photos. Congratulations! Such an inspiration.

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262 Kim N. October 24, 2012 at 9:37 am

I just wanted to thank you for sharing your weight-loss journey. You inspired me to give My Fitness Pal a try and as a result I have lost over 20 pounds. I too have been a yo-yo dieter for years, an on again off again Weight Watcher, with no lasting success. I’ve found MFP easy to follow and in an effort to keep things simple, have just told myself that I have to do at least one half hour of sweat-inducing exercise per day, 6 days per week. I have been gentle with myself and not too focused on the scales, more on health. Now that I am at the maintenance stage, I actually have hope that I can do it. Here’s hoping that I won’t have to keep my “fat clothes”! Thanks again from a fellow Canuck!

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263 Jill November 2, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I actually cried with happiness for you when I saw your after photos. You are an amazing woman! Way to go!

I’m most certainly at my “before” stage. . . the lowest I’ve ever felt, and the heighest I’ve ever weighed. Friends tell me I should “be easier on myself” because I just had a baby 5 months ago, but despite weight-lifting, cardio, and eating (a little) better, I have lost only 3 pounds over the birthweight of my baby. That leaves me at 50 lbs above the healthy weight zone for my height of 5’0″ and feeling miserable. About 25 lbs of those came after my sweet daughter. I have no one but myself to blame for the other half.

I’m realizing several things about myself as obstacles to my weight loss. I’m confident that recognizing these and defeating them will help me break through my wall of self-sabotage.

I think it would help me to list them.

1) I am an emotional eater & a boredom eater.
2) I am a secretive eater. I find the need to eat things quickly when my husband isn’t around that I wouldn’t want him to see me eating. I know that the only one I’m cheating is myself — you can’t fool the scale.
3) I don’t believe in myself physically. Truly. The people at the gym tell me that I can achieve fill-in-the-blank, and I go home and cry, thinking I’m the only person on the planet incapable of the things they are encouraging me to work toward.
4) My portion sizes are off. In no version of a healthy eating plan should I be eating portion sizes anywhere close to that of my husband.
5) Stress. I am stressed. I’m conviced that this is part of the equation.
6) Sweets – I’m not very good at moderation. I think I’m addicted to sugar.

Success stories like yours are hugely (hugely!) motivating to me. Thank you for sharing!! I’m committing to tackling my obstacles and succeeding. One day, one step at a time.

Starting with going to the gym when my husband comes home from the grocery store :). Can’t wait to revisit and tell you my “after” part of the story.

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264 Hilary November 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I wandered here from OAMM. You look absolutely stunning and HEALTHY. I had a baby this summer and find myself 40 lbs heavier than I was 2.5 years ago. Your tips are realistic and attainable. Thanks for the inspiration!

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265 Paul November 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I thought you looked pretty alright before too (and really attractive afterward). I think its inspiring how you made it all about feeling positive about yourself and the food you eat.

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266 greatjob November 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm

You look 20 years younger!! Great job.

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267 Karen Manasco December 9, 2012 at 11:01 am

Surfing for recipes, I happened upon your website.

Hearty congratulations! You look absolutely fabulous!
Keep up the great work!

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268 Paula @ Vintage Kitchen December 28, 2012 at 8:40 am

You look amazing Dara!

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269 Maggie December 30, 2012 at 12:11 am

Congratulations on the weight loss! I understand the struggle, and I relate to the ‘before’ pictures where you avoid full body shots, and always try to be behind someone in photos. I am on weight watchers, although I have fallen off the wagon since October! Going to get back on track come January and make an effort.

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270 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 30, 2012 at 9:02 pm

You can do it, Maggie! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’ll be cheering you on from afar.

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271 Karie McRae December 30, 2012 at 8:14 am

Dara…I am so impressed with your weight loss. I met you a few years ago at the Community Center. Holly crap, you look good. You have inspired me to get on this journey. My son in-law just showed me that app (i.e. My Fitness Pal). You are right, it is daunting getting real and not lying.

Thank you!

Karie

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272 Dara (Cookin' Canuck) December 30, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Karie, it’s wonderful to hear from you! Thank you for your kind words. I still use the MFP app to keep myself on track. I haven’t found a better way to keep myself accountable! Good luck on your journey. I’d love to hear how you’re doing.

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273 Erika January 2, 2013 at 8:20 pm

You look amazing! This is the first time I have visited your site and I admit that your transformation was so huge that I could not tell you were the same person in both pics- I had to read the caption! Way to go!

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274 Sue January 4, 2013 at 10:06 am

You look AMAZING! Perfect inspiration for 2013!

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275 Tammy J January 8, 2013 at 5:00 am

I want to thank you for sharing. I just now found your blog and I find it fascinating!!

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276 Sally January 9, 2013 at 7:46 am

Good for you! Wow, you look like you could be the daughter of your before pictures, you look so great. I have loved your blog for a long time. Good job!

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277 Jules January 9, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Dara, I stumbled across your site looking for a recipe for baked eggs with spinach, and was fortunate to not only find your amazing breakfast casserole but also your incredible story. I am only just beginning to read, but I know its one I will want to explore entirely. I already skipped to the end on your transformation and all I can say is Congratulations on your commitment and achievement!!! You look like a totally different person…. younger, healthier and certainly so much happier. You are a testament to anyone struggling with weight loss or even those trying to have a healthier lifestyle, nothing worth having comes easy, it doesn’t come in a pill… it just takes dedication. So many people live their lives never knowing how good they can feel and look when they are healthy, never reaching their physical potential… so thank you for being brutally honest about your journey, and your inspiration and encouragement for people to discover their ultimate self. I cannot wait to try so many of your recipes. Blessings to you and your family in the new year.

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278 Lyn January 11, 2013 at 6:12 am

Wow! I can’t believe how much younger you look! Well done!

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279 Denise Browning@From Brazil To You January 23, 2013 at 7:30 am

Dara:
Your story is inspiring!!! You look fantastic…
I have lost more than 50 pounds with Jenny Craig but old bad habits made me gain them again. Looking back, I do regret eating them in. You are so right. Eating healthy and exercising can make you lose weight but changing one’s life style is what really keeps weight off. I have started by myself to control my calorie intake and to do portion control. I’ve been making better choices as well. I just need to make time to exercise more. So far I have lost about 5 pounds in about 2 weeks. I am gonna think about you on my journey back to a healthy weight. Thanks for sharing your story!! xx

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280 San February 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Hi, just following a link on your nutella fudge recipe, and read about your weight loss journey! I too have been using the application on my phone, though I am a bad girl some days! I hope to take your advice, especially about getting moving, I am in my mid 50′s and the weight just keeps on getting more difficult. Thanks for sharing, come and visit me on my blog when you get some time! Thanks

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281 Katrina March 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm

So inspiring! Thanks for sharing. I am just starting my journey. I had our 4th and final baby in October and am ready to shed the pounds!! You look amazing!! I hope I can be as successful as you have been!

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282 forever May 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm

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283 Shannon May 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Wonderful story! I am so proud of you. I work as a Health & Wellness Coach and will send your story to several clients. I appreciated your healthy and balanced approach. (Crash diets are sure to crash.) Two keys I identified: Consistency and Self forgiveness. Consistency is essential and you demonstrated that with both eating and exercise. But as you shared, there will be days when you blow it and the best gift you gave your-self was forgiveness. Start over immediately by forgiving yourself and re-focusing. You also gave great eating tips. Fending off the sweet tooth with a cup of tea is a great idea! I use it myself :) . It’s also nice to use the MyFitnessPal App to get feed back on how you are doing. It’s all about the calories in vs. calories burned. Thank you for sharing!

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284 Beryl May 23, 2013 at 8:55 am

Thanx you really have inspired me.Ive just started my journey and looking forward to every target.Im inspired by your story.

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285 Julia @Vikalinka May 27, 2013 at 6:51 am

Although I read this post before and rejoiced in your success and felt pretty good about my own at the time somehow I let it slip through my fingers once again. The move to another country, a job change, missing my friends and family all of those stressful things that make you eat to feel better. However, what doesn’t make me feel better is the fact that I take pictures of everybody around me and run away from the camera or delete the ones that get taken. Sigh. I am back on track and reading about your journey just brightened up my day. Thank you for your sharing and inspiration.
Julia

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286 SallyHP June 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm

You look awesome! I am a fellow runner who is finally serious about weight loss. Baby number three is nine months old now and I have my second full marathon in November. I’m not interested in cutting out full food groups, and tracking plus running/strength training is the key for me. I am two weeks into weight watchers (I thought I needed the accountability of paying for the service, but actually like my fitness pal better) and what you said about the first couple weeks of awesome giving you a false sense if security. A-ha! Me too! Now I must harness the almost 10 pounds under my belt and keep chipping away at the next 60-70. Slow and steady for this girl. I am excited to dig into your blog more!

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It’s an remarkable piece of writing designed for all the web users; they will get advantage from it I am sure.

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288 Earlene Blosser July 4, 2013 at 12:14 am

Hi Dara. I must say that it is a remarkable article about your weight loss journey. Well I was in the same situation as you are and I just wanted you provide some moral support as I know how hard this whole process can be! I wish you good luck and most importantly strong mind!

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289 marni July 13, 2013 at 4:48 am

Just incredible the difference 25lbs make. You look absolutely fabulous!! Congratulations on your wonderful success. I have been struggling with trying to lose lbs ever since my daughter was born, who is now 50. Before she was born I was slim. I dont eat large meals, dont binge, but my snack of choice is cheese and fruit, so obviously I overeat those, as I am 20 lbs overweight. I dont look very heavy just slightly plump, which I hate. I know what is required of me but continue to snack. After reading your inspiring story I will stop trying to lose weight but “just do it”. If it takes me 40 weeks or 50 weeks I will do it.

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290 Beckons Attore July 15, 2013 at 9:42 am

I would like to suggest italissima. It’s healthy, and can be used in so many foods that you can easily make right at home! Say, have you ever tried home made hot pockets? I sure have and they’re so much more delicious, bigger and still so much cheaper than the real deal! No, the home made is the real deal! Anyway, try it out, make more foods at home,r ather than frozen or out to eat and I’m sure that you’d be surprised as to what you’ll come up with or come across!

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291 Jackie July 20, 2013 at 10:24 am

Hi Dara,
I am just getting back to the blogging world after several months away and I came across this post at the perfect time! This last week I recommitted to a healthier life style once again. Your words, tips and example are great inspiration. And I am bookmarking your blog as I see there are some great recipes to be tried! Congratulations on your success!
Blessings from Alaska, Jackie

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292 Helen July 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Thanks for this post, I am a big fan of this site would like to
be updated.

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293 Phebe September 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Dara you are truly an inspiration – so much so that I just printed out your entire post to keep in my cooking binder and try to follow as much as I can! Your food actually looks delicious – and that’s saying a lot for Healthy food!! I can’t wait to try your recipes and and get myself motivated to lose my last 15 (now 20!!!) lbs of baby weight.

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294 michelle October 15, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Oh wow you look so happy and I am so glad I stumbled on to your site. I loved reading about your journey as well as everyone else. All your recipes look great too. Please keep up the good work as you are a great motivator.

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295 sylly October 17, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Just found your site today and started looking at all the pictures and reading… I have to tell you…YOU LOOK 10 YEARS YOUNGER (or more) in your after pictures ! HOW INSPIRING ! YOU LOOK GREAT !!! Thanks for the work you have put into this site – I look forward to exploring it further :-)

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296 helen October 21, 2013 at 11:42 am

Well done. Inspirational story and I’m definately going to try some of your recipes.

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297 Ole October 24, 2013 at 1:47 pm

If anyone are struggling with weight or other health issues, consider just going Paleo!

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299 Oliviaally04 December 2, 2013 at 3:45 am

Thank you really have inspired me.Ive just started my journey and looking forward to every target.I’m inspired by your story.

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300 Ola December 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm

You’re not only looking slimmer, you actually look 10-12 years younger than your “before” photos and you have that wonderful glow. Good for you.
This is so inspirational. Thank you for sharing your journey to better healthier self.

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301 anita December 30, 2013 at 9:25 am

Hello from Alberta. Firstly, I want to say how much I enjoy reading your blog! The before and after pictures are amazing transformation. You look so much younger! I am on my own journey once again to eat less carbs and more vegetables. It’s that simple! And to exercise of course. I really enjoy Leslie Sansone dvds. Loosing the inches off the waist is so important for one’s health and that will be my goal. I find writing down what I eat helps me to be accountable and not to eat mindlessly.
Thank you for sharing your story.

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303 Shannon January 19, 2014 at 6:22 am

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is one that never gets old.

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304 Lisa Viger is Raw on $10 a Day (or Less!) January 23, 2014 at 11:55 pm

Wow. What a transformation. You look about 25 years younger. I keep telling myself that I “only” need to lose 15-20 lbs. But, holy moley, 25 lbs makes a truly spectacular difference. Well done :). I’m inspired!

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305 Pam February 16, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Thank you for telling the story of your journey with weight loss. I have started and re-started more times than I care to remember. I can completely I identify with what you said about starting off strong and then the old habits come back, I am encouraged by your story and appreciate your openness. Thank you so much.
Getting back on track,
Pam

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306 Margaret February 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

I haven’t been here in ages and I regret that. YOU LOOK FANTASTIC!! I had no idea you were doing this. WOWZA!!
You are motivating me to carry thru’ with my journey. THANKS!!

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310 Sherrie | With Food + Love March 12, 2014 at 8:50 am

WOW your story is inspiring and your transformation is incredible. You look vibrant, healthy, alive and about 15 years younger!

l o v e + l i g h t Dana,
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311 Jo May 6, 2014 at 11:12 am

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313 Clare June 18, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Hi Dara

Just for a sense of scope (and these might be good points to include in the piece) – how long did it take you to a) find yourself really sticking to your eating and exercise goals? Did you find you were able to do this from the outset of this particular heath kick, or did it take you some time to develop the healthy routine? (i.e. did you start slowly cutting out junk and sugar, and slowly working up to 6 days a week of exercise, or was it “go hard or go home”?)
and b) how long did it take you from the start of this particular healthy phase for you to lose the 25 pounds? From personal experience it really bums a person out when they’re finding the weight isn’t coming off as fast as they imagined it would.

Thanks for the great read – it is inspiring!

Clare

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319 Charlotte from AZ October 5, 2014 at 6:58 pm

I just stumbled on your site this afternoon…and I am certainly glad I did! What a wonderful story. You are very inspiring…just reading all of the comments, you can surely agree. What an awesome journey. You must be so very proud and rightly so. You have a beautiful family. You truly do look so much younger as the ‘slimmer you.’ You have inspired me to try harder. I do try, but not everyday. As you said…you do good and then reward yourself in the wrong ways and here it comes right back on. So all the best to you and I will be back visiting your blog from time to time. Thank you for the inspiration you have given so many of us!

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320 Dara October 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

Thanks so much for your kind words, Charlotte. Each day is still a journey and a challenge, but I can not stress enough how much better I feel and how much happier I am when I’m eating well and exercising regularly. I hope you stop back again!

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