In the photo on the left, taken in July 2017, Melissa Donovan weighed 213 pounds. In the photo on the right, taken in March, she weighed 178 pounds. (All photos contributed by Melissa Donovan)

Melissa Donovan, 45, of Johns Creek lost 35 pounds

SUCCESS STORY / Melissa Donovan, 45: From 213 pounds to 178 pounds

Former weight: 213 pounds

Current weight: 178 pounds

Pounds lost: 35 pounds

Height: 5 foot 6 inches

Age: 45 years

How long she’s kept it off: She started in July 2017 and reached her current weight in November.

Personal life: “I live in Johns Creek. I’m an IBCLC lactation consultant. I’m also a mother-baby charge nurse, Cub Scout leader and small group leader for Northpoint Community Church for eighth-grade girls,” said Donovan, who is a registered nurse with Emory Johns Creek Hospital. “I have two boys that are active in sports and Scouts.”

Turning point: “It just kind of had gotten to the point that I was going to be a plus-sized person,” she said. “When I saw the doctor was doing a trial, I thought, ‘Why not? I’ve tried everything else.’ ” Donovan was the first participant in a clinical study at Emory University School of Medicine where an interventional radiologist performed a procedure to freeze her vagus nerve, the nerve that carries hunger signals to the brain. For more information about the study:

“Basically, they freeze the vagus nerve, you go under with twilight sleep, they do a CT scan and the procedure takes less than 30 minutes. There’s no pain, just a Band-Aid over the puncture site,” Donovan said. “Immediately, you do not feel hunger. … Right away, you feel like you could take it or leave it with food. … I thought it was make-believe at first — you will forget to eat.” Before the procedure, Donovan said she never forgot to eat.

Diet plan: Breakfast is coffee with a protein bar or a protein shake. Lunch and dinner are a salad or veggies with meat.

Exercise routine: “I exercise five days a week at Crossfit Johns Creek,” she said. “… I just find I am a much better mother if I prioritize my workouts. … I can go and put more into my kids.”

Biggest challenge: “I would get very frustrated because I would lose 10 pounds and gain it right back. Even when I was trying to stick to a certain plan, I could never get past that 10 pounds,” Donovan said. “… Now, I can run faster, I can lift heavier weights, I’m just better.”

How life has changed: “Honestly, it’s being such a good example for the kids. I am so glad I’m able to show them a healthier, active lifestyle. They see Mommy eating right. I don’t ever sit still, and they don’t sit still. They see me at Crossfit and they say, ‘My mom is so strong.’ That wasn’t me two years ago,” she said. “… I am 45, and my blood pressure is like a 20-year-old. My cholesterol is low. My doctor called me after my annual physical and said, ‘What are you doing different?’ Healthwise, I am so much better than I was 10 years ago.”

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