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This Southern Mom Went from Couch to Motorcycle in Eight Months

by Danny Bonvissuto
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This Southern Mom Went from Couch to Motorcycle in Eight Months

At 9:30 p.m. on January 11, 2017, Michelle “Chelle” Honeycutt sat in front of the TV, snacking on what she remembers as “a bag of something.” At 43 years old, 5-foot-5 1/2 and 263 pounds, she’d accepted being heavy the rest of her life.

“I thought I’d be one of those fluffy grandmas who always had something cooked for the kids and future grandkids when they stopped by to visit,” she says. “I knew I wasn’t healthy and I wasn’t content, but I wasn’t looking to do anything to change it … until his little butt came through that door.”

That little butt belonged to Dusty Joe, the second of Chelle’s three adult sons. That evening, he’d gone to the new gym near their Linden, North Carolina, home and came home with a mission.

“He said, ‘Mom, you’ve got to go. It’s clean, the people are friendly and there’s so much equipment,'” Chelle remembers. “I wasn’t the least bit interested, but he’s like me: If he’s passionate about something, he won’t just feed you a line and let it go.”

By 10:30 p.m., Chelle was a new gym member.

“Something clicked,” she says. “I thought ‘I can improve my life. I can be better.’”


Every dreamer deserves support. Discover inspiring tips, tools and stories of dreamers like you to help kick-start your own dream pursuit.


That night, Chelle walked her first mile on a treadmill. She went back the next day, and again the day after that. “For the first 10 days, I didn’t miss a day,” she says. “It wasn’t walking real fast, but it was walking. All I would do is cardio; I didn’t touch the weight machines.”

It took her two and half months to try her first ab class at the gym. “When you’re overweight, you feel like you’re on the sidelines,” she says. “You feel inferior, uncomfortable and scared to get involved.”

Fitness wasn’t the only change Chelle made, however. Two days into her new gym membership, she found MyFitnessPal. “The MFP app helped me accomplish my goals because it gives me the ability to log all of my food and exercise,” she says. “It tracks my calories and nutrition levels so I can keep it all in check.”

Her first goal was to reach 199 pounds, or as the MFP Forum calls it, “Onederland.”

“Onederland is great to reach when you haven’t seen it in forever,” says Chelle. “I accomplished that back in May [2017]. I never imagined I’d weigh less than 200 in my life, but not only did I do it, I did it in just over four months.”

A stay-at-home mom since 1997, Chelle wasn’t always overweight, but gained pregnancy pounds with each of her 10-pound babies that didn’t come off. Now that her sons are grown, she’s traded TV time for strength training.

“I’m constantly focused on my health now,” she says. “I push between 100 and 130 ounces of water a day and hit the gym 3–4 times a week for an average of two hours a day.”

Chelle finds the community just as important as the carbs and calories. “I have my gym family and my MFP family,” she says. “Women I’ve never met inspire me, and I’m doing the same for them. Their comments push me.”

Chelle recently reached another big goal of reaching 160 pounds — 100 pounds lighter than when she started. Though her old clothes are gone — she kept one pair of size 24 shorts as a reminder — she says her body’s only one part of the change.

“My attitude is different. My activities are, too. But my heart is still the same,” she says. “I like the new me. I was always the obese mom. I’m not going back.”

And now, she’s moving ahead in style. Before got active, Chelle never considered taking a ride on her husband’s motorcycle. “Two hundred and sixty pounds on the back of a Harley? No ma’am,” Chelle says. “Now? Let’s go.”

It’s that confidence that keeps Chelle successful in the gym and out. “I’ll still have my occasional Reese’s Cup. I’m sorry, there’s nothing like peanut butter and chocolate,” she says. “As long as it fits in my calories, it’s a go. If not, it can wait another day.”

And Chelle finds each day on this side of her weight loss more vibrant than before. “I say it all the time and it’s true: Before, I was existing,” she says. “Now I feel like I’m living.”

Written by Danny Bonvissuto, a lover of words, writing for a living, independent bookstores, chips, salsa and queso, sunshine, jeans, tank tops and running — but only if ’80s rock is involved. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Food Network Magazine, HGTV, WebMD and Plate magazine.

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  • Debbie Bond Klein

    Great story . Way to go. You know how proud we all are of you.

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Thank you, Debbie! I appreciate it and you know I am proud of you and your success too!! Still pulling for you girl!!

  • Debbie

    This is fantastic! But I need to know more details! I’ve lost at least 64 lbs but I’ve been at a plateau since my shoulder surgery in January. I still haven’t hit 199! I’m exercising 5-6 days/week. I drink at least 84 oz of water and I’ve logged in MFP almost 800 days in a row. I cut out added sugar… I eat about 5g at the most from bread and peanut butter. I’m no longer pre-diabetic but I’m not losing weight. I’m hypothyroid and am on meds. I’m gonna force my doctor to do more testing because something isn’t right. But what if my metabolism just won’t budge? Thnx!

    • Teri Wilson

      Great job! Maybe instead of bread and peanut butter, you could try a half of a 7-sprouted grain english muffin with Nuttzo. That’s what I eat. I’m sure it’s not going to change the world but it could help. Also, eating as much organic as possible. I even switched all my spices to organic. No processed foods. Good luck!

      • Debbie

        I’d love to eat organic. I can’t afford it usually… that’s part of the problem. I’d like to have something for lunch that’s higher in protein and less fat, but again, the cost is problematic for me. I haven’t heard of Nuttzo. I’ll have to Google it!

        • Teri Wilson

          Nuttzo is pricey! Yes, I totally understand. It’s sad that it costs more to eat healthy.

      • Debbie

        Actually, any ideas on what to eat for lunch that’s high in protein but not high in fat would be greatly appreciated. ☺️

        • Teri Wilson

          Give me your email address please.

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Hi Debbie! I see you have already had quiet a few replies. First, congratulations to you on your 64 lb loss! That is an awesome accomplishment! Plateaus can make you want to throw in the towel and just give up… but they don’t last forever. You have to last longer than any plateau you may hit. It sounds like you just may need to switch things up a bit. You have been given a variety of advice below. One of the first things I would have asked you was if you weighed your food. A digital food scale is a HUGE resource! What most think is a serving, usually is well over. You’d be surprised. I weigh and log my food. I count calories, yes. I am no longer trying to lose weight… but maintain as I am focusing more on strength training to tighten, tone, firm and strengthen my body. Still… I weigh and log my food. It is part of my lifestyle change. There will be times that you just can’t… and that is okay. Life happens… just roll with it and get back at it ASAP. The food scale will benefit you A LOT! Also… I do have a Fitbit HR 2 and if something happened to it tonight, I’d be at the store in the morning to buy another. It is a piece of technology and no they are not perfect, but it sure helped me. It can help motivate you to get in more steps which is always a good thing. I hope that you won’t give up and will keep pushing… Just as I stated to a few others that have commented… You Are Worth It! Best of wishes to you.

  • Anniepi67

    Great story. Great job!! Proves one thing. So much easier to lose weight when you haven’t done it 10 times before. Every time you lose and gain, it’s harder to lose the next time!! Keep up the good work, keep that weight off and don’t become a yo-yo dieter.

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Actually I lost weight back in 2001. However, I only got down to a size 18. So no where nearly as much as I lost this time. One thing though.. I didn’t diet. Diets end. I changed my whole lifestyle. What I eat, how much I eat.. my activity level, etc. There is no end.

      • Anniepi67

        When I started MFP I knew then there would be no more “dieting” ever again. Going on a diet to me equates to then getting to a point and going off a diet. A diet has to be a way of life – healthy eating, exercise without killing yourself with it and doing it forever, not for six months or a year. Right now I have some sort of medical problem that is giving me fits and preventing me doing any kind of exercise and also makes it a problem with eating correctly. I know that sounds weird, but with the problem I have, even thinking about cooking and working on menus and doing the right thing is just more than I can handle. But I will get back to a good spot in the near future – I hope. You are an inspiration.

  • Slantedeyes412

    Very encouraging! Awesome job !!!

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Thank you!

  • Grant Stone

    She has to know that walking 1 mile is not considered cardio. I don’t care how obese you are. That is like saying masturbating is strength training for your forams. That asside, I applaud her for making the first steps towards adding years to her life. I’m sure her husband and 3 sons are happy she made the change as well. Good for her.

  • Lisa Bennink

    Chelle, you are my inspiration. Though I started at a much higher weight 352.4 lbs, since January 2017, I’ve lost 58.1 lbs. & I lost that amount with only normal daily activity. Let me explain that I’m on disability for a number of reasons, but the mainly, I have severe osteoarthritis. Both knees & my left hip are bone on bone. I was in a program thru my insurance for bariatric surgery as the doctors won’t replace the above-mentioned joints until I lose a latge amount of weight. 3 weeks before finishing the class requirements, I was rushed to the ER virtually unconscious, though my husband tells me I was awake & swearing at people in the ER. I don’t remember anything after being put in the ambulance. When I woke up 3 days later, my husband told me that, as the doctor put it, my gallbladder had exploded & I almost died due to sepsis. After 8 days in the hospital & 21 days in a rehab facility,, I went home. I was 31.2 lbs lighter. Now I don’t recommend losing 31.2 lbs. the way I did. After reading your story, if I want something that isn’t within my food plan/calories for the day, I’ll read your story to remind me & remind myself the more I lose, the sooner I can start having my joints replaced. I’ll no longer need strong pain medication & muscle relaxers. I’ll be able to do more than just function. You are remarkable.

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      This is why I wanted to share my story. I knew that there would be someone that needed to read my story. I am glad it has inspired you and I hope that you will find motivation to continue forward with your lifestyle change. No… being in the hospital so sick is definitely not the preferable way to lose weight at all. You were blessed to make it through that… Sepsis is most often fatal. You’re still here for a reason. Tell yourself daily that you are worth investing the time to make yourself healthier. You are worth the effort! You have already fought a war with your health setbacks… you can do this with no problem! I know you can!!

  • Connie

    What an inspiration I’ll take it ! I’ll read your post whenever I feel like I can’t do it and I’ll see how awesome you look and I won’t give up.

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Always remind yourself of one thing… YOU ARE WORTH IT!! We all are!! You can do it!

  • Llv

    Thank you for your post. Having a tough day today and hearing your story helped motivate me and feel like I can do it. Unfortunately I have this idea in my head that now that I’m 41, it will be impossible to lose weight, stay in shape and look good. Thank you this. I see you’ve done it and know it’s possible. Best of luck to you! And enjoy the Harley! I started riding with my boyfriend and love it!

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      YOU can do it!! I will be 44 in less than 3 weeks. If I can do it, anyone can. Just set your mind to it and push forward. Thank you.. yes, I am always sitting on go ready to ride!!

      • Teri Wilson

        I’m 57 and am down 62 lbs! Age may be a cause but we don’t have to let it dictate our lives.

        • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

          Agreed. 110% and then some!

  • What a fantastic post! What first caught my attention was Couch to Motorcycle. My husband rides, I like to ride two up, but in recent years, I don’t like how I look in the chaps and often decline to go with him on rides. I said to a girlfriend yesterday, that it was pretty sad how much of my life I’ve spent unhappy in my own skin. Not a day goes by that I don’t chip a little bit of my self esteem away. I’m my own worst enemy. (I think I’ll write my next blog post about this) Then I saw your story. You inspire me. Thanks so much for sharing! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b23777143aae42d1ccc15bb331eb83ebf37b45a1c5ce6a00e75bc2dce03a4f69.jpg

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Don’t be so down on yourself and don’t miss out on making those memories with your husband. Get out there and enjoy yourself. You can turn those negative feelings around and feel better about yourself. Make yourself a priority… start with just a walk after dinner. The first steps are usually the hardest but once you form new habits…. you will fly with it! I am glad that my story has helped to inspire you. Again, that is why I agreed to share publicly when MFP contacted me.

    • Kim Heikes

      You are truly as inspiration. I’ve lost 44 pounds but gained 7 back lately. Stopped logging into MFP. I started at 245 and now weigh 181. My goal was 150 which I know is still considered over weight for my 5’4′ frame but at 60 years of age I think I can live with 150. Took over a year to lose those 44 pounds…wedding of my daughter was my motivation as I hate having my picture made. Two friends at work kept me motivated as well but they moved away. I really want to lose more but I started eating again and is harder than ever to get back on the bandwagon. Maybe after reading your story I can finally get back on tract…I surely hope so! Thanks again for sharing your story.

      • Kim Heikes

        Michelle Nelson Honeycutt this was suppose to go to you. I’m technically challenged!

  • Whitney

    Thank you for this story! Just what I needed today!

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      I am glad it showed up just when you needed it. Just what I hoped to hear!

  • Tonya

    What an uplifting story! Thanks for sharing.

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Thank you! I agreed to share my story in hopes of helping others realize they can do it too!

  • Debbie

    Hi, yes, I did recalibrate my calories. Now I’m supposed to eat 1200 calories. That’s so hard! If I eat 1300 calories, I don’t feel like I’m starving. I ordered a food scale today. I’m going to have to be very severe about measuring my food. I may be underreporting my calories. I definitely want to get into HIIT. My knees are shot so all I can handle is the stationary bike. I switched from Random to Interval and I went from level 3 to level 4. I use the weight machines. I do three sets of 15. I usually rest about 30 seconds… maybe a bit longer… I don’t count it. I definitely work up a sweat.

    I think I need to buy one of those fit bits or something like that. I want to measure my daily activity level. Is there one out there that’s good but not expensive? Thnx!

    • Teri Wilson

      I stopped using my FitBit because my phone has an app called Samsung Health on it that syncs with MFP. It counts your steps, you can keep track of how long you are on the bike or doing weights or whatever.

    • MrsDiff

      Maybe you should try eating more calories. I know it sound backwards, but I have never lost weight eating less than 1400 calories. I actually have the opposite problem of most people and I don’t get hungry very often, so eating 1400 calories is hard for me, but if I only eat 1200, I don’t lose, bump it up to 1400 and lose about 2-3 lbs a week. I know a lot of people frown on this, but I use lean cuisine type meals for breakfast and lunch, so I can keep track of the calories easier. I hope this helps!

  • Amanda Jayne Fuller

    i started 8 Jan and lost 50lb . I’m 46 in December. Ppl say it’s harder to lose once your middle aged but that’s rubbish. Well done on your weight loss , great achievement https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e18439aba8e5956a3dda4d884d384bb9ea788a936fdc37439f8f251fb2c61ed7.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e18439aba8e5956a3dda4d884d384bb9ea788a936fdc37439f8f251fb2c61ed7.png

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Awesome work, Amanda! You’ve done fantastic also! Yeah… I agree. It can be one regardless of your age.

  • jasmine m

    Thank You so much for your story.
    I am quite emotional today because I came across a picture a friend had sent me that reminded me of how big I am. I didn’t realize how big I had really got until I saw myself on camera. I cried for half hour about because I had plenty chances to stop myself before I got this big but I didn’t. Something motivated me to go on this app (despite me not tracking today) and low and behold, I found your blog. I know it was for a reason. I am 5’3″ and weight at 267.8. At my heaviest I recall jumping on the scale to see 280.2. How devastating I was at that time. I have managed to yo-yo diet over the years and just when I would be on a good streak, I would treat myself, and never went back to my diet. I just kept treating myself and treating myself. I saw your post today and something about the way you smiled in your after picture that sparked a change in me. I want to experience an unashamed and unapologetic smile like that. So tomorrow is Day 1. I read a quote that said “Day One…..or…. One Day… You decide”..
    I’m deciding Day One…
    Thank You
    Jasmine M, future author 🙂

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Jasmine, I have no idea what happened to my reply to you. I responded already, but it is not showing. I am so glad you found the article that MFP wrote about my Weight Loss when you were needing it the most. I know what you mean about having had plenty of chances to stop before allowing yourself to go too far… I was the same. Exactly the same. It happens before you know it and then it is as if there is no way back. BUT there is!! I am proof of that!! If I can do it, anyone can! I have issues with my knees (they grind like crazy), but losing the weight has definitely helped them. You can do this… Just know that it is a lifestyle change.. no more dieting. Diets End. You want this to last. I hate to hear you got so upset when you saw the picture of yourself, but I DO KNOW what you are talking about. Pictures tend to show us what we don’t choose to see in the mirror…. Hold on to that picture and refer back to it as you lose the weight. Take progress pictures… compare them. You will be glad you did. I wish you all the best and would love it if you would update me from time to time on how things are going for you. I am glad you have decided to put yourself first. Tell yourself every single day that YOU ARE WORTH IT!!

  • Nancy Basque Baker

    Your story has helped give me a shove to get back on track…thanks for sharing!!!

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Very happy that I was able to help motivate you to get back at it. You have got this. Don’t give up!

  • Angie Locke

    You look AWESOME! It sounds like you are describing my life to a tee! I hesitate to join in on activities that will draw attention to me because of my weight. My weight has always ruled my life, but I’ve got to take charge! My daughter is getting married next November and I don’t want to run away from the camera. (I hate seeing myself in pictures). How many calories did you allow yourself to start with? I plan to join a local and gym and at least start walking on the treadmill.

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      Angie, I put in my personal information into the MFP app and it gave me the calories to eat with my goal of losing 2 lbs a week. It varies depending on your current weight, age, height, activity level and goal. Just go plug those numbers and information in and it does all the work for you! You can do this… you can change your life. Just remember it is a Lifestyle change. You can’t do it for a short period of time and then go back to the lifestyle we have known all these years… You have to make life changes that you keep for the rest of your life.

  • LisatheMom

    Thank you for the reminder and the push. I am older than you, but I know I have to start somewhere. Today is my day! 50 lbs is my goal.

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      You can do it! I know you can! You might be older, but that doesn’t change the fact that you can make it happen! Make your mind up and go for it!

      • LisatheMom

        thank you!

  • Toni

    I am so glad I found your story today – I am 49 – had three 10 pound boys myself and have always believed I’ll never see the other side of 200 again. Your story has inspired me…I’ve even bookmarked it to reread for encouragement =) Thank you so much for sharing!!

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      You can see under 200 and much more. You can do it! I had pretty much come to accept I would always be obese… I had been for so long, why should I think otherwise? But I did it and so can you!!

  • Kathleen Pope

    The fact that you got up off your comfy couch at 9:30 on a January night in response to your son’s invitation really spoke to me. You didn’t wait till daylight, you didn’t put it off till the following Monday, you didn’t make a big production out of it — you just started in, making one change at a time. It’s a good lesson here: don’t overthink it. As someone else who posted a response said, is it going to be “One Day…” or “Day One?” Thanks for sharing your story. It’s really helpful!

    • Michelle Nelson Honeycutt

      You are exactly right… it boil down to just that… One Day or Day One and we have to decide which it is going to be for us on an individual basis. Monday will make 2 months since I have entered maintenance and I am still doing well with it. Making a change in your life like this isn’t super easy, but it is beyond rewarding! I appreciate your comment!!

  • Linda

    Inspirational!

    I have to do something to save my life! My health has detoriated tremendously since 2015. I am weighing 250 lbs. and I am always beating up myself for being overweight. My weight increase
    has exacerbated my conditionS. After reading your success story, I am inspired and motivated to make a change. I have dried my tears and made a decision to FIGHT for my LIFE. I have always had to fight but this is biggest challenge of my life. I intend to WIN come hell or high water. Wish me luck!!!

  • LED

    hi Ladies,

    Loved reading this. I’m right at the very beginning of my journey, but so chuffed already. i Started MFP THE Same day i came to hear of it. It happened to be our work year end function 20 October. Photo’s of me of that day just made me cringe. I haven’t looked back and i’m super excited for the road ahead. i’m 48yrs old, on medication for Cholesterol; under-active thyroid and high bp. i weighed (103kgs) 227 pounds. I’ve been losing 1kg every 6 days which is so awesome for me. i’ve never ever seen results like this. i don’t know if it’s normal – has everyone lost so much also? I’m feeling full of energy and although there is a very long road ahead this is so motivational. I also bought myself the electronic food scale last week. i have a manual one, but its very old and i’m not sure how dependable. my calories per day are 1450. I haven’t been over once in the 24 days – whoopeee. i just need to drink more water – and leave the pc and walk walk walk. i have done absolutely minimal exercise and still can’t believe the weight loss. I’m trying super hard to convince my sister to do this with me. She is suffering from Type 2 diabetes as well as all the above, and i’m really praying she’ll join me.
    Question – how does maintenance work once you have achieved your goal? how do you determine how many calories a day then?? i’m looking farrrr ahead :-). but i’m so motivated. and very proud of myself.
    Best wishes to all of you – i’m going to keep coming back to this blog – because it CAN BE DONE!!!
    Hugs to all
    Linda D.

  • T&G Strong

    Michelle, Very inspiring!! I have struggled with my weight all my life. And always about an extra 50 lbs. I am thankful that it has only been that amount……but it’s still really frustrating. I’m short and small boned so I should be about 120-130 and I usually run around 160-170. But everything hurts….joints, feet, etc. I am now 62 and about a 18 months ago I had lost 30 lbs. Never felt so good. Thought I would never gain it back….but here I am again. So I’ll start again. When I read your post I thought wow….good for her, if she can do it ….then by the Grace of God so can I. Can you tell me what your daily calorie count was….and is? Thanks for sharing…..Gayla

  • Kathy Cloostermans

    Well done! I admire people like you. While being heavy, bad eating habits, too tired to move, feeling uncomfortable, you suddenly decided to change. I hope one day, I’ll be as motivated as you do, and not accepting to be heavy for the rest of my life. I registered today in MFP and started to write down what I eat. The worst part will be more active… Thank you for your success story.