Missouri powerlifting woman loses 300 pounds
April 14, 2017
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Danielle Miles dreams of someday lifting the weight of her life off her shoulders.
Someday, soon hopefully, she will strap on her weight-lifter's belt, bear down and rise up.
She will lift that 300 pounds, figuratively and literally, which is how much weight she has lost in 2.5 years.
"I have always battled with morbid obesity and that weight made me feel weak," she tells me.
This, on the other hand, will be a feat of strength.
Her maximum now for the squat is 240 pounds.
The Springfield News-Leader (http://sgfnow.co/2oRINxB ) reports that Miles has battled her weight all 30 years of her life. She was a chunky infant, she says. She went on her first diet at 10.
She dropped out of Central High as a sophomore. She weighed 315 pounds and could not walk up the stairs and was unable to make it to the next class in the allotted time between periods.
"And I didn't fit into the desks," she says.
It was humbling and embarrassing.
This most recent weight-loss journey commenced in December 2014. At the time, she was bed-ridden and weighed 465 pounds. She is 5 foot 1.
Her husband, William, feared Danielle was not long for this world.
William tells her: "I just want to see you live."
They have been married 13 years. They have no children together; he has three from a prior relationship.
Their first date was the movie "Mr. Deeds," with Adam Sandler. Not once, he says, has he ever looked at Danielle and seen someone who is obese.
"I was just looking for somebody to be compatible with."
On Thursday, when I met her, she weighed 165 pounds.
In December she had dropped to her goal of 145 pounds. But she tore her left hamstring while lifting and was sidelined for weeks. She quickly put on 20 pounds.
But the injury has healed and she is back at it, following a training regimen of fitness classes, weight lifting and treadmill running at the downtown YMCA.
She credits her first trainer at the YMCA, Jill Kleier, who is no longer there, for saving her.
"This woman has changed my life," Danielle says of Kleier. "I don't think there has been a more supportive person in my journey than her — outside of my family. She supplied me with the tools to change my life. She literally saved my life."
Kleier says Danielle was different from most of the people she trains.
"She is every trainer's dream," Kleier says. "She was so unhealthy. She was at the bottom of the pit. For her to come and ask for help — to bite the bullet. And she stuck with it. She stuck with it. She made me so proud that she has done this and she stuck with it because so many people don't. They get discouraged after losing 20 pounds and they just give up."
Kleier schooled her in the proper technique for lifting weights.
"She is so freakishly strong," Kleier says. "I hope she stays on the path that she is on for the rest of her life. I appreciate that she still gives me credit for everything. But she is the one who did the work. God had placed me in that position — in her path."
Danielle is also grateful to other YMCA staff and the friends she has met while working out.
In fact, her YMCA friends and staff pitched in and bought her a road bike.
"These people treat me like family. I have had memberships at other gyms and it does not have that vibe. A lot of people at other places are fit already — not like me."
Danielle has dropped weight before. In 2008, she basically stopped eating after her mother died and she dropped to about 129 pounds. But she was not healthy.
She suffers from bouts of anorexia. Sadly, she regained the weight.
"I just used food to cope," she says.
She also struggles with anxiety, depression and assorted ailments related to the wear and tear the weight has taken on her body.
She has body dysmorphic disorder; she relentlessly thinks about the flaws of her body.
The disorder causes severe emotional distress and can interfere with daily functioning. Those who have it often miss work or school.
Today, when she looks in the mirror, she does not see herself as someone who weighs 165 pounds.
"I see myself bigger than I am."
But this time on the weight-loss merry-go-round, she did something different.
She not only dieted but followed a sustained exercise program.
"People have been saying for years that diet and exercise works," she says.
As a result, she has been drawn to the sport of powerlifting. She hopes to compete soon.
It was her husband who coaxed her into a YMCA membership instead of a scheduled gastric-bypass operation in Columbia.
Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries make changes to the digestive system to help people lose weight by limiting how much they can eat.
He feared the surgery would prompt another bout of anorexia in which Danielle would stop eating altogether.
In addition, doctors typically recommend a long-term commitment to diet and exercise to keep weight off.
Her life was in jeopardy, he says.
Danielle has found that regular exercise has helped reduce her anxiety and depression.
She was asked if she was anxious about talking for this story.
She expected that she would be, she says. That's why she exercised for an hour before we met.
"I burned some of that off."
One reason she agreed to talk is because she wants to encourage someone else morbidly obese who might be on the brink of despair.
"I hope this helps at least one person," she says.
She eventually will have an operation to remove the excess skin that droops off her triceps and her legs. The skin has been stretched for decades and will not snap back on its own.
"That's why my least favorite thing is running," she says. "Everything jiggles when I run."
She is happier and more confident these days, she says.
"I know I will always struggle with my weight," she tells me. "But it sure looks a heckuva lot better than it did a couple of years ago. If I would have continued the path from where I was at — I probably would have died."
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com