Dana R. Melnyk weighed 190 pounds in the photo on the left, taken in 2010. In the photo on the right, taken in September, she weighed 152 pounds.

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

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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