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Name: Benjamin Francis
Before Weight: 430 pounds
How I Gained It: I've been overweight since I was a teenager, but my excessive emotional eating started when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I ate whenever I had a feeling I wanted to "fill" and food became that comfort. Nothing was off limits: I'd go to McDonald's and order two or three meals and still not feel satisfied, and then eat popcorn or pretzels -- anything to take my mind off of what my family was dealing with. Part of the problem was that once my mom became sick we didn't have a structured breakfast, lunch, dinner routine, it was more or less "fend for yourselves". I wasn't eating at the right times, which led to being hungry all the time. To put it bluntly, if I wasn't working, I was snacking on something.
Breaking Point: In October of 2010, when I was 27, I decided I was over eating my pain away. I didn't want my pain to be visible to the world.
How I Lost It: That first day, I signed up at Planet Fitness and got right into a routine. I made a goal to burn off at least 1,000 calories a day. I could accomplish this by doing an hour on a treadmill at a brisk pace and on an incline. After I was comfortable with that, I started using the elliptical for cardio and the Arc Trainer for strength-training. As I grew closer to my goal weight, I started circuit training three to four days a week. I hadn't been active since gym class in high school, but once I started working out it really changed my life. Now, if I miss a workout, it throws off my day. Going to the gym relieves stress and helps me focus. I go every day, and it's not a chore -- I look forward to it!
I cut out soft drinks cold turkey, eliminating as much processed sugar as possible. I started eating whole-grain foods and more natural foods. If I look on the side of the box and the ingredient list is long enough for a short story, I know it's not worth it. I also cut out fried foods completely. I looked at the food pyramid to make sure I was still getting the nutrition I needed without damaging my body.
For breakfast, I would do whole grain oats and an omelet. A mid-morning snack might be a banana, orange or fresh cranberries. For lunch I would pick a lean protein and have a nonfat yogurt. My mid-afternoon snack would be peanuts, air-popped popcorn or some veggies. Dinner would consist of a lean protein, broccoli, green beans and some type of healthy starch. My meals varied daily but stuck to these basic parameters.
Once I actually started to see the weight literally melt off, I became more motivated than I had ever been before. I was working out one day in September 2011, and I had my iPod going. I closed my eyes and imagined things I would do once I was "skinny". One of the things I thought of was going skydiving. Three days later (I was right at the weight limit) I did.
After Weight: 185 pounds
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