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Dana R. Melnyk, 43, of Marietta lost 44 pounds

SUCCESS STORY / Dana R. Melnyk, 43: From 196 pounds to 152 pounds

Former weight: 196 pounds

Current weight: 152 pounds

Pounds lost: 44 pounds

Height: 5 feet 10 inches

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Age: 43 years

How long she’s kept it off: She started in December and reached her goal in August.

Personal life: “I live in Marietta with my husband and two children,” Melnyk said. “My daughter, Madeline, is 14, and my son, Charlie, is 13.” She is a homemaker and home-schooling mom.

Turning point: “I was really tired of feeling tired all the time … after 13 to 14 years of solid caregiving,” said Melnyk, whose children both have special needs. “I’ve tried to lose weight in the past. … None of that worked, and so I decided I’m going to do something different. I am going to invest in myself and hire a wellness coach. If I want a different result, I need to do something different. That is where Jacynta Harb (www.sparkleanewyou.com) helped me. … I thought I should be able to do this on my own — I had a lot of ‘shoulds.’ … I’m taking care of the person that is taking care of my children. It was very hard for me to say I deserve this — it was easier to say my kids deserve the best me.”

Diet plan: “I eat a banana chocolate chip oatmeal cup from www. organizeyourselfskinny.com every single morning,” Melnyk said. Lunch is often a char-grilled sandwich or Cobb salad. Dinner is a frozen meal.

Exercise routine: “Lots of walking and running intervals,” Melnyk said. “I try to find at least 20 minutes two to three times per week.”

Biggest challenge: “I think my biggest challenge was getting started and overcoming inertia,” Melnyk said. “And then I guess I would add into that changing the way I’m thinking. Remembering that when something happens, remembering gratitude and being flexible with my thinking — that’s one of the harder things for me.”

How life has changed: “I would say my life has changed dramatically because I have a lot more energy,” Melnyk said. “… I have found some routines that work for me. A lot of these things when you initially start they take a lot of work, but soon they become routine. … Through the years of trying and not succeeding, I began to believe that losing weight wasn’t possible. … I became afraid to try because I was tired of feeling like a failure. One of the things that helped me was watching my son. He has many hours of behavioral therapy each week. It is built on a foundation of behavior change through positive reinforcement. They work on small, achievable goals. … I did this for myself. … I hope my story will inspire other special-needs parents that they need to take care of themselves. I think as parents, but especially special-needs parents, we think we’ll take whatever is left over at the end.”

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