Athlete Health Focus – Weight Loss Journeys

June 17, 2024

Beginning a weight loss and physical fitness journey can be daunting, but as we learn from Special Olympics Wisconsin athlete, Danielle, determination leads to achievement.

As a dedicated athlete, Danielle has not only embraced the challenges of her sport but has also embarked on a transformative personal quest. We recently had a chance to catch up with Danielle and ask her some questions around her journey and inspiration. Her journey not only underscores the power of resilience but also highlights the profound impact of inclusive sports in fostering personal growth and well-being.

What got you started on your weight loss journey?

I hated being as big as I was, and I knew it contributed to more pain. Ultimately my family was my motivating factor that and my health.  I didn’t want to die an early death and I really felt like I was heading that way. I was always an athletic person growing up, as I got older all it took was a about 5 years of very slowly at first gaining weight then over a couple years, I gained weight very fast due to being laid up after a few different surgeries.

What fitness or health tips do you have for other athletes?

My tips are if you are injured and can’t move like you could before, slow down on normal eating habits. I don’t think many realize that when you can’t move like before those calories become extra calories and it’s very easy to speed up weight gain.  I also think a good tip is know your limits. I am very much a person that likes to go all in or not at all. That leaves me very prone to injury. Go slow and increase slowly at first. Injury set me back a lot when it came to physical exercise.

I also think keeping track of what you put in your body helps to realize exactly how much you’re really eating. Before I didn’t track, and I was actually eating quite a bit. Another tip is finding things that are fun. If you don’t like exercise you can go exploring and get your steps in that way or do something that makes you feel good as long as you’re getting moving.

My last tip is don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for help. If just doing it on your own, you can’t be successful they have tools that can help. Medicines and programs and surgery if need be. They even have programs that teach you a completely different way to eat that you may have not known about before.

How has Special Olympics helped you with your weight loss goals?

Special Olympics has helped me find ways to get active and feel that I’m part of a team. I can be around others who also find joy in the sport they are doing and I get to be surrounded by friends. It’s a great way to keep accountable as well.

How do you feel now?

I feel like a completely different person. My pain has significantly improved, and my mental health and physical health have not been better in a very long time.  And I can join my family now in a lot more fun things. I used to just stay inside because I knew I couldn’t move as much.

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