Single parent lost weight for her children's sake

Staff writer

As the year 2015 drew to a close, Barbara Alleven of rural Marion knew she needed to take better care of herself in order to continue to raise her three sons and see them through to adulthood.

Alleven put on weight during three pregnancies, finding herself busy with cooking and looking after a family. She didn’t take time to work out, she said.

She was hit with a bombshell in April 2014, when her husband, Gary, was killed in a vehicle accident.

After putting on another 20 pounds, she knew it was time to do something.

“My boys only have one parent now,” she told herself, “and I need to be here for them.”

She has three sons — Garrett, 17, Cade, 14, and Will, 13.

She was generally healthy with no high blood pressure or cholesterol, but after spending long days as a beautician in Wichita, she had arthritis in one knee and suffered from plantar bursitis in her feet.

In December 2015, she went to a medically directed weight loss clinic in Andover and began her journey toward health. At 5-foot-3, she weighed in at 246 pounds.

“They cut carbohydrates out of my diet,” Alleven said. ”It was all of the good stuff, the sugars and starches.”

She learned how to count protein calories and was instructed to eat protein every two to three hours. She said that took some getting used to because she had often worked long hours without eating. She sets an alarm to remind herself.

For protein, she eats low-calorie things such as string cheese, Canadian bacon, low-carb yogurt, and eggs, and reserves her largest meal for the end of the day. She makes chicken and fish and lean meat dishes.

She took an appetite suppressant twice but found out she didn’t need it.

She has learned how to use cauliflower in place of potatoes and make oven-baked zucchini chips.

“I could use protein shakes, but I want real food,” Alleven said. “Shake diets make me hungry.”

She also has become more active. While attending her sons’ sports activities, she walks every chance she gets.

“I’ve covered some college campuses pretty well,” she said.

When at home, she walks on her farm, around the one-mile section, or even to Aulne and back, an eight-mile trip. She also uses a treadmill and does weight-resistance exercises.

She checks in at the clinic every week or two to talk to a nurse.

“Talking with them keeps me motivated,” she said.

She’s also encouraged when others notice and comment on her weight loss.

Her sons have taken notice, too. Cade, a freshman at Marion High School, was inspired to follow his mother’s example. He lost 20 pounds over the summer.

Alleven has lost 86 pounds so far, with 15 more pounds to go.

“I feel better about myself,” she said. “My knees rarely bother me anymore, and my plantar bursitis has gone away. Even my carpel tunnel went away.”

She hopes to reach 140 pounds by the year’s end.

“After I reach my goal, my long term goal is to keep it,” she said. “I plan to stay busy and keep from getting up there again.”

Last modified Sept. 22, 2016