Ashley Donahoo, Pace, has become an inspiration to countless people after losing nearly half her body weight simply by walking, running and eating healthier.
Donahoo lost 137 pounds in 20 months and appeared on People magazine’s 11th annual Half Their Size issue.
They heard about her story after asking the public for people who lost more than 100 pounds to write in. Her friends told her if she didn't do it, they would.
The 27-year-old was born and raised in Pace and is the project manager at Dan Stewart Law Firm. Besides being on the cover of People magazine on Wednesday, she was also featured on Good Morning America on Wednesday and 20/20 on Friday.
Weighing in at 288 pounds in 2010, Donahoo said her doctor was pushing her to start getting healthy.
“I was depressed and hopeless and didn’t think I could do it,” she said.
Her husband David then said one day, “We’re going for a walk.”
“We were living in Iowa at the time and we got half way down our city block when I was out of breath and in pain,” she said. “I started crying.”
That’s the moment the mother of two young boys, Zachary, 10 and Connor, 5, decided to make a change.
“My husband and I would put one of the kids in the stroller and the other on the back of a bike,” she said. “I lost all my weight with a pair of tennis shoes and a workout DVD.”
She didn’t kill herself going to a gym for several hours every day. She didn’t starve herself, take diet pills or get surgery - she just started walking.
“We would increase the pace a little more each time and finally when I got to where walking was fine we would jog,” she said. “You just have to constantly be striving for progress. I’m never going to be perfect but I know as long as I’m doing a little better I’m doing good.”
Thinking back to that time, she remembers the struggles of the journey, like weeks when she would gain a couple pounds.
“It was frustrating. You want to scream and punch a wall,” she said.
But now when she shows her youngest son, Connor, photos of when she was 288 pounds he doesn’t believe that it’s actually her.
“He looks at pictures and says, ‘That’s you?’ When I started this he was only 2 ½ years old,” she said. “They love the happier more energetic mom. I think I did it right at the right time for my kids.”
Now instead of sitting at home watching TV or going to the movies, Donahoo said she likes to play sports and be active with her children.
And her husband, David, is on his own weight-loss journey, having lost 50 pounds. Together the couple lost 187 pounds.
Although she never expected to get this much recognition for her accomplishments, Donahoo said she welcomes it.
“I’m a small town girl from Pace. I’ve never been to New York (before now) but this is my third time in seven weeks,” she said. “After I saw so many people turning to pills and surgery I wanted to tell people that I’ve done it (without the pills and surgery).”
On her 20-month journey, which ended around March of 2012, she took progression pictures at each milestone.
“I look like the incredible shrinking woman,” Donahoo laughs.