Debby Rose’s journey to a lower weight and better health winds through two pregnancies, severe hearing loss, weight-loss surgery, a traumatic event that left her nearly housebound for five years and two knee replacements.
In the last two years and seven months, the 70-year-old has lost 112 pounds, and along with the weight loss, she’s seen her health improve:
Debbie Rose’s weight topped out at 345 pounds. Today, she is down to 186 pounds. (Courtesy Debby Rose)
She struggled with her weight for a long time
Rose’s weight gain started during her first pregnancy, and she gained a lot more during her second pregnancy, when she was confined to bed.
In 2001 she hit her top weight of 345 pounds. She had gastric bypass surgery then, lost 175 pounds, and kept it off until 2010. But a traumatic experience triggered a serious setback in her life. When she was leaving a parking lot one day, she pulled over to close the hatch on the back of her car and she was nearly kidnapped and carjacked. She suspects she may have been targeted because of her hearing loss.
“I had one foot in the car and one foot out, and he slammed the door, trapping me inside. He said, ‘Move over. I’m taking you, your purse and your car,’” she said. Rose had been trained not to go anywhere with an attacker because she would likely be killed. So, she put the car in reverse and drove.
“He went down, and I kept going. I didn’t even know where I was, I was so rattled. I didn’t know if I killed him,” she said. “After that, I was terrified to leave my house. I would not go anywhere. That’s when I started gaining the weight. I was so depressed, and I was beating my insecurities and my fear with food.”
Five years later, her weight was up to 298. She tried using MyFitnessPal, but she kept losing and gaining the same 25 pounds. “I really wasn’t ready to do anything,” she said.
Her weight-loss journey started by addressing health concerns
Taking care of some of her health concerns put Rose on the path to losing weight. In 2017, she realized her hearing was getting worse —the hearing aids she had relied on for years were barely working, and she was lip reading to communicate. In 2018 she got cochlear implants, which are surgically implanted devices that can help you hear. “That gave me confidence,” she said.
Later, she went to the doctor because she was in so much pain from the arthritis in her knees. She needed knee replacements, and she needed to lose weight. “He told me, ‘Your quality of life depends on you losing this weight,’” she said. She took that advice to heart and started making changes.
She aims for slow, steady progress
“I am a slow loser,” she said. “I’m a strong believer that how you lose the weight is what you have to do for the rest of your life, or you’ll just put it back on. It has to be a lifestyle,” she said. She sets small, short-term goals for herself. “I try to take it 10 pounds at a time, and it usually takes me two to three months to get that 10 pounds off. I have that as my mindset, and then I try to get down another 10.”
She calls the day she hit “Onederland” — dropping into a weight that starts with a “one” on the scale — a big moment. She can still recall when it was: August 24, 2021. She’s currently down to 186 pounds, and her short-term goal is to get into the 170s. Long term, she’d like to weigh 155 to 160.
She follows the 80/20 rule diet and practices intermittent fasting
“I’ve tried every diet, and they don’t work for me,” she said. “So, I try to follow the 80/20 rule. I eat healthy 80% of the time and 20% whatever I want. I can have it all — I just can’t have it all at once. It works for me. I don’t feel deprived, and it’s just a way of life now.”
The foods she includes in the 20% are things like pasta and potato chips. “I don’t keep potato chips in my house because they’re my trigger food. If I want chips, I go to the store, buy a little package, bring them home and enjoy them. I don’t feel guilty,” she said.
In January 2020, she decided to try intermittent fasting. She has black coffee in the morning and eats a salad with protein around 11 a.m., depending on when she gets hungry. She usually makes something in the air fryer for dinner and stops eating by 7 p.m.
“I have to have two meals a day, or I won’t get my nutrition in, and I try to have between 1200 and 1500 calories per day,” she said. She keeps an eye on her macros, but she doesn’t stress over them. She just uses them to guide her toward healthier choices. Because she had gastric bypass surgery, she doesn’t have to worry about portion control. “I can only eat a small amount, or I’ll get sick,” she said.
She’s exercising with her new knees
Rose had her first knee replacement in June 2021, and as part of the preparation, her doctor gave her a series of exercises. “I started doing those, and after I got my first knee done, I was so much stronger. I added in some yoga. Walking was still kind of difficult because of the other knee,” she said. “I used to walk all the time when I was younger, and I loved it, but it’s hard to walk when you’re bent over a walker or on a scooter.”
She had her second knee replaced about a year after the first, and now she walks 6,000 to 9,000 steps a day. When it’s too hot to walk in her Vancouver, Wash., neighborhood, she and her husband walk at the mall so she can get her steps in. She also challenged herself to get down on the floor and back up twice a day for 30 days. She does squats, strength training with resistance bands and rides her recumbent trike.
She also recently joined the Start TODAY Facebook group and has been enjoying sharing her successes and connecting with others for motivation and support.
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This article was originally published on TODAY.com