Meet Dart

Today I want to introduce you to Dart as the person I’d like to highlight in the series “Stronger Together“.

It wasn’t so long ago that I first met Dart on the FB page and it has been so great to get to know her more.

I think you will agree after reading about her journey below. :)

I love her commitment to getting healthy for her kids (and I love her sweet nickname for them!) Dart has really been through a lot and I am pretty sure there is someone that will relate to parts of her journey.

Dart has responded to a series of questions that more or less correspond to the steps I’ve taken in my own journey as outlined in the “How to Lose 100 Pounds” book series.


1. YOUR Journey and Plan for Weight Loss Success: Please tell us a little bit about your own journey with weight loss and getting healthy?

My name is Dart Rhoades, I live in San Diego, California with my three children, whom I call “the Cherubs” (though that nickname is more an affirmation than a reality!)  I also have a pair of goofy Pugs, Lucy and Ricky, a cat recently renamed Katniss, and a Senegal parrot.  I have a full house.  I have a full heart.  (Additionally, I work full time in Quality Assurance within the biotech industry, but that’s just what I do, not who I am.)

I often say that “nobody hates being fat more than me” and yet I’ve struggled with weight issues and poor self esteem for as long as I can remember.  I was a fat baby, a chubby child and an obese adult.

I had gastric bi-pass surgery in February 2001.  At that time I was planning to travel to China to adopt a baby girl (who is now my beautiful 11-year-old Cherub).  I felt that I needed to lose weight in order to make the long plane trip, and to commit to being a single Mom to two children (a few years later I completed our family by adopting a little boy through the foster care system in my county).

I spent many years dieting unhealthfully, you know – lose 70, gain 85; lose 40, gain 60 and on and on.  I’ve done it all… liquid fasts, fad diets, Phen-Fen, deprivation, feast and famine yo-yo-ing, South Beach, Weight Watchers.  Can you relate?  I decided that my final (and most drastic) act in my quest for permanent weight loss was a surgical fix.

I did lose 130 pounds (from my pre-surgical weight of 336) and managed to hover around 200 pounds for a while.  It was exciting, I was the incredible shrinking woman.  More energy, new clothes (shopped in the “regular” women’s section, not Plus Size—whoo hoo!), lots of attention (which turned out to be a problem for me as I’ve never been good at accepting compliments or getting noticed).

Slowly the scale started to creep up, a pound or two at a time – not that I noticed because I started avoiding the scale.  While I did not eat huge meals, I constantly nibbled my way back up to about 240 pounds.

In July 2009 my brother committed suicide and I tumbled back into full-fledged emotional eating.  I didn’t just spiral downward I nose dived out of control.  I was unemployed at that time, as well, so I sat home and ate.  Before I knew it, I was over 300 pounds again.  Dang it!!  (You know, I would never beat up anyone else as badly as I beat up myself.)

So, here I am.  While I’ve accomplished great things in my life I have not conquered the weight issue, but it’s not too late and I’m still committed to get there.

2. Finding the Motivation: What is your big WHY for losing weight and getting healthy? How do you stay motivated?

I am a single Mom by choice.  I have one biological daughter and two adopted children.  I chose to be a Mom and I feel I owe them to be the very best Mom I can be.  Since they do not have a Dad, it really is up to me to raise them, support them, and love them to the best of my ability.  My youngest child is now 9-years-old, so I still have a long way to go!

I want to dance at their weddings.  I want to celebrate accomplishments of grandchildren some day.  If I do not lose weight I will not be around to see my job through, and it’s the Cherubs who will pay the price.

For the past 20 years I’ve had osteoarthritis in both of my knees.  I’ve never been very active or athletic, but as the arthritis has progressed I’ve become more and more sedentary.

In March of this year I will have bi-lateral knee replacement surgery.  In order to have the surgery I must lose 60 pounds (so far, I’m down 29 pounds and counting!)  The absence of knee pain, coupled with the promise of increased energy/activity, just playing with my kids, is great motivation!

3. Goals and Planning: Are you setting goals for yourself? Please share with us where you are at with your own goal setting and any tips that you might have for this planning process.

On November 1st the orthopedic surgeon set my first goal for me – lose 60 pounds by March, in order to have the double knee replacement procedure.  After the surgery I have a personal goal of losing another 60 pounds by the end of the year.

The BIG goal is that I plan to ride a bicycle around Miramar Lake with the Cherubs.    It’s only a 5 mile bike ride, but it’s a huge goal for me!  I have not ridden a “real bike” in over 30 years, though I have a recumbent exercise bike in my bedroom which I look at often, and peddle  occasionally.

I can hardly wait to go on a ride around the lake – might even pack a picnic, all healthy foods, of course!!

For me, goal setting is very important.  It helps me measure my progress, celebrate my success and recalibrate when necessary.  When I set a goal I have the single-minded, stubborn tenacity to achieve it!  I love to put a check next to a goal I’ve accomplished.

I’m one of those people who likes to make a To Do list, just so I can cross the tasks off the list.  It’s very affirming and motivating for me to see my own progress.  My goals are my roadmap on this journey – how would I know where I was going if I didn’t map out the route?  Even though there are detours and side trips I need to see that I’m making progress to the final destination.

4. Eating for Weight Loss: Are you following a specific diet or food plan? Any tips for how you deal with challenges in this area?

I am an emotional eater – I eat when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m hurt, angry, frustrated, tired, bored, depressed, etc. etc. etc.  I’m also a lover of sweets – the chocolaty-er the better!  I’m not big on the salty crunchies, but I love sweets, and starchy carbs.  Great.  Perfect recipe for weight gain!

So – to combat this natural tendency I am being a very mindful eater.  No careless snacking allowed.  I have three carefully planned meals and two or three 100 calorie snacks daily and I drink lots (LOTS) of water.  I’m not following a specific program.  From years and years of dieting I know what it takes for me to lose weight.

During the holidays I had a ‘just say no’ attitude.  I was stalked by sugar – everywhere I looked I saw candy, cookies, muffins, cake, pie and bread!  My office was full of delicious, fattening little land mines — Yikes!   It just came down to determination, commitment, self respect and a desire for things to be better in the relatively near future.

5. Exercise for Weight Loss: Do you have an exercise plan currently? Please share your own exercise plan and any tips that you think could be useful for others.

My knees are severely arthritic.  (I am limited to the extent that I have a handicap parking placard now.  If I cannot open the car door fully I cannot bend my knees enough to get out of the car.)  Once I’m standing up I can walk, but stairs and inclines are painfully difficult and cold/wet weather exacerbates the problem – fortunately, I live in San Diego so the cold temperatures are not extreme compared to much of the country.

When I push through the pain and walk or use the exercise bike I pay the price with badly swollen, achey knees – usually disrupting my sleep.  Hard to choose exercise when I know the increased pain to come.  Still, I walk nearly every day, though 30 minutes is all I do.  One day soon though, I’ll have my bionic knees and there will be no stopping me!!

6. Getting Back on Track (after a gain or just starting out): What words of advice do you have for others who may be struggling to forgive past attempts at weight loss or for those who are just trying to get started? Is there anything else you would like to share?

Sometimes we just have to start over.  That’s my best advice.  Hit the reset button, new day, look forward not back and keep on moving.  I’m glad we get to re-choose and start again, and we can start over every single day, if need be.  As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The future depends on what we do in the present.”

In November, when I first committed to losing 60 pounds by March, I checked Amazon for a “diet book” that would help me get started.  I lucked upon the How To Lose 100 Pounds seriesIn Paula I found a kindred spirit – someone who has lost a lot of weight and regained some of it.  Someone who likes to set goals to help stay focused.  Someone with a positive outlook.

I bought all of the books and read them in a day or two, then reread them with a journal at hand to write my own thoughts and goals.  I appreciate the support, motivation and accountability I find on her Facebook page, too.  (Actually, it’s OUR Facebook page, Paula wouldn’t be able to do what she does without us!)

While I’ve never met Paula or any of the other members of the FB group, I feel like I’m among friends and I appreciate the lack of judgment, the honesty and support.  We’re all in this together.


Update (6/21/2013) from Dart:

I’ve now lost 70 lbs and I had the first knee replacement, but then fell in the hospital and shattered the femur. Since my leg was non-weight bearing for 3 months, and I developed blood clots, I could not do any physical therapy, except for an arthritis-exercise-in-the-pool class at the YMCA.

My planned 12 week leave for both knee replacements has turned into 6 months, and only the first knee. Dang it!! I am a planner, but sometimes life happens and I have little or no control (except for attitude, I try to stay positive and just keep moving forward).


A note from Paula…

A BIG thank you to Dart for taking the time to share so much with us all.

I’m so happy she is a part of the Facebook page/community and I’m SO happy you are too. (You are, yes?) ;)

I also thank Dart for the kind words and enthusiasm about the Facebook page. I especially LOVED when she said “Actually, it’s OUR Facebook page, Paula wouldn’t be able to do what she does without us!” AND could not agree more!

My hope is that you would comment below with words of encouragement for Dart and also share a bit of your own “story” with us all.

Much love,

~ Paula

P.S. Please join us at the Facebook page – I’d love to “meet” you! :)

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  1. kimberly says:

    Dart we all have your back you can do this. I know how you feel with the lose then gain i lost 90 then gain 100 back between having 2 kids. Its not a easy road but with each others help and Paulas help were all gonna kick some major butt. I wish you nothing but luck with your knee surgery. And keep your head up along with your positive attitude. Its so easy to give up it takes hard work to kick the scales butt. But i have full faith in you. Rememer when you feel like quiting dont were here to help.


  2. Dart says:

    Thank you, Kim! I have faith in YOU, too! WE can DO this!!


  3. kimberly says:

    Yes we can. Thank you for accepting me on facebook. Ever need to talk just email me on facebook.

  4. Jen Houck says:

    Dart, what a courageous woman to take on the responsibility of those little cherubs by yourself! Have you ever tries walking and exersizing in a pool? I can water jog for for about 20 minutes now without stopping with no knee pain! Our pool even has a lift to help people in and out of the pool if they need it! Joining a water aerobics class has been a Godsend to me and I encourage you to try it. We have a few knee replacement people in our class and they do it for the water therapy! Good luck.

  5. Dart says:

    Hi Jen, thank you for your post. I have not tried a water exercise class just yet, though I plan to join the local YMCA in the spring and give it a go. Once my knees are fixed and I’m in the rehab phase I think the water therapy will be excellent. It’s also something my 3 cherubs would enjoy (swimming while I do my water jog, or whatever). Thank you for the encouragement!

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