Billie Jean Loses 81 Pounds, Plus She Shares Her Favorite Power-Up

Editor’s Note:

In our Before and Now series we highlight the journeys of people who are eating a Full Plate. We share how they got started, what’s worked, and some of the challenges they’ve had to overcome.

Billie Jean’s story:

Last July, for the first time in my life, I reached my goal weight of 150 pounds. I then reset my goal weight to 140, which I reached in October. Full Plate Living has changed my life! I lost 81 pounds and never felt like I was on a diet. It has been small, steady changes. I’m confident I will be able to keep the weight off. And the amazing thing is, I never thought I’d ever be able to say that. It really has become my lifestyle.

Here’s how it happened:

I’ve struggled with weight since childhood. As a teenager I dieted, but nothing seemed to work. Back in 1996, before getting married, I got within 5 to 10 pounds of my goal weight, but was never able to get there.

Many years ago I joined TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly). After losing and gaining the same 5 pounds over and over again, I dropped out of TOPS, swearing never to go back. But 5-years ago I reached 221 pounds, the heaviest I’ve ever been. I knew I needed to do something, but didn’t know what.

So the summer before last I finally broke down and went back. I needed the support and accountability. I set a goal weight of 150 pounds. Once again I began losing and gaining the same 5 pounds. While I enjoyed the support and accountability, I felt like our group needed more structure, a curriculum we could follow. So I went home and googled nutrition programs and found the Full Plate Diet (now Full Plate Living) website. After looking into it, I said, “This is what our TOPS group needs. A program that embraces lifestyle changes in small steps.”

We (TOPS) purchased the Are You Eating Enough to Lose Weight? small group program. I facilitated the program and it went over very well. The Moving Forward steps helped us make the small steps we needed to succeed. After that we did the Are Your Thoughts Keeping You Thick? small group program. The added structure helped our group grow from 7 to 34.

“Food no longer dominates my thoughts”

What I especially found helpful was the Thin/Thick Thought concept. The idea that just changing a few thoughts can change my behavior has led to amazing changes. That concept really helped me overcome my all or nothing thinking. In the past, if I ate a donut, I’d just go ahead and have more because I already blew it. It would take several days for me to get back to eating healthy. Now I just get back to it right away.

Powering up is another concept I find very exciting. I like the fact I can still eat pizza and not feel guilty. I order the thin crust and add lots of veggies. My friends and I send pictures to each other of how we power up our meals.

I feel better about myself. I feel different about food. I’m an emotional and social eater. In the past everything was about food. Who’s bringing what? What are we going to have for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks? I don’t do that anymore. We still eat, but it’s not the focus of the activities I’m involved with anymore. Now, when I’m talking with friends, it’s more: what are we going to do, than what are we going to eat? Instead of going out for ice cream we go on a 5K walk together. It’s been contagious. When one of us is successful the rest of us try to do the same thing.

“Now I don’t have to hide what I eat from my 5-year old”

My big motivator has been my 5-year old son. I knew I had to change when I caught myself slipping away to another room so he wouldn’t see me eating a candy bar. I sat down and talked with my husband and we decided to do this together, for our son. I never want him to face the food issues I have faced.

It does take more planning and preparation (to eat healthy) and I hate grocery shopping. But my husband and I made a choice. He is a better cook and has helped a lot. We have a big garden, that keeps getting bigger every year, and we eat a lot from there. We’ve replaced starchy food with veggies.

“My favorite Power Up”

“I love beans. Never knew I’d love beans before because I didn’t eat them very much, but now they are a staple. Here’s my favorite recipe”: Power Up by Billie Jean

Mexi-Beans by Billie Jean Miles
  • 2 different cans of beans rinsed very well & drained (black, kidney, cannellini, etc.)
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 mango
  • ½ small or ¼ large red onion
  • 1 or 2 avocadoes
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes

Dice your tomatoes, mango, red onion and avocado. I dice mine so that the pieces are chunky in size. In a large bowl combine the corn, beans and diced ingredients. Squeeze the juice from two limes over the mixture. Chop and add cilantro to the bowl to suit your taste. Mix very well.

This can be used in many ways! It started as a dip for baked tortillas. I like it so much that now I use it as a side dish, top off a plate of mixed greens with it, and my favorite is to top a lean hamburger or chicken breast with it. So fresh & delicious!

The recipe is very flexible and can be adjusted to suit any taste buds.

Would you like to share your story?

If you’re enjoying success on the Full Plate Diet and would like to share your story with others, email me at [email protected]


Lonnie Carbaugh

Lonnie Carbaugh, LPC, NCC,  is a Behavioral Health Counselor at Full Plate Living who has shed and kept off 25 pounds since working for Full Plate Living. He is as dedicated about walking 5 miles a day as he is about his favorite sport, baseball.