This Sunday, when Dawn Bonavita celebrates Mother’s Day, she will likely open homemade cards made by sticky hands and hug each child as they bound in to tell her good morning. In the decade and a half it took to have her three daughters, Dawn struggled with infertility, pregnancy loss, and weight that fluctuated wildly due to stress and bouts of depression.
After losing 93 pounds, Dawn feels blessed that she’s now the mom who can play with her kids without feeling winded, lift up her two year old with ease, and be an example of healthy living.
Just say no to cookies – This was the humiliating advice given to Dawn by a pediatrician when she was just a young girl. Heavy most of her childhood, Dawn became very active in high school and sprouted to five foot ten, which kept her trim for a few years but soon, the process of starting a family would take its toll on her waistline once again.
“My late twenties and all of my thirties were consumed with fertility issues,” Dawn explained. “We used fertility treatments to get pregnant with our first child and it worked within three months.” Unfortunately, Dawn’s second pregnancy would not be as easy. During the four years it took to conceive her second child, Dawn endured four rounds of IVF treatments and lost five pregnancies.
Dawn remembers the endless cycle of those years, “With every negative pregnancy test and every lost pregnancy, I ate,” she admitted. “Food was my comfort. I weighed over 235 pounds when we finally became pregnant with our second child.”
After her second pregnancy she made a “half-hearted attempt” with supplements and did lose some weight until, the surprise pregnancy with daughter number three. This time, Dawn gained more weight, and nine months after her daughter was born, she still felt pregnant.
This time a doctor listened and helped her take action. She joined a commercial weight loss program and a gym in the same week. Though it was difficult in the beginning, she began to find strength in jogging and then running. “When I completed my first mile I looked like Rocky on the steps of the art museum,” she said.
Today, though Dawn admits it’s tough to find time to get to the gym with three children (9, 4 and 2) she’s committed to losing those last pesky 10 pounds and maintaining her fitness. “It’s not about losing weight,” she said. “It’s a complete lifestyle overhaul.”
Reaching a major milestone
Recently Dawn completed the 10 mile Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. “When I hit mile nine, I started crying for about half a mile. It was not because of pain, it was because I was doing it. A woman who couldn’t run for 30 seconds a year before was running and finishing a 10 mile race.”
Dawn’s advice to those struggling with weight loss: “You will have good and bad, sometimes very bad, days. It’s okay. Dust yourself off and keep moving.”