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Name: Edward Cooper
Before Weight: 260 pounds
How I Gained It: Since I was eight years old, I have been overweight. I have always had a difficult relationship with food. Unhealthy eating habits were created during my childhood. My family enjoyed eating out often, and I was always expected to finish my plate. This created a very bad relationship with food early on. Food was definitely a pacifier for me. As I got older, in my teens, I started experimenting with different diets. I tried to improve myself and increase my self-esteem. This included several diets with the same end result: always gaining the weight back and eventually gaining more. This pattern followed me through adulthood. I've done it all -- prepackaged foods, liquid diets, no-carb diets, cabbage diets, grapefruit diets -- almost every diet under the sun, which always resulted with substantial weight loss and later substantial weight gain. I did not understand why this kept on happening, and I became increasingly frustrated.
Breaking Point: I was done with yo-yo dieting. This finally led me to the realization -- "If you find yourself stuck in a hole, stop digging." I started to question myself on why I had such a bad relationship with food. After tremendous research, I decided to approach the problem from a different perspective. First, I needed to admit that I had an addiction and a compulsion towards food. Second, I needed to take full responsibility for the good and the bad.
How I Lost It: I changed my lifestyle, focusing on three stages -- the past, the present and the future. From my childhood, I needed to understand how I formed these bad habits. From the present, I needed to find a lifestyle that fit into my daily routine. Finally, I needed to find out how to continue maintaining a healthy life in the future. I did extensive research on restaurant menus to find healthy choices that allow me to live the lifestyle that I enjoy. My eating habits have drastically changed. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day to me. I typically have eggs, oatmeal and an English muffin with jam. Lunch is usually low-fat peanut butter with low-calorie bread. For dinner, a large salad with fat-free dressing, lean protein, like fish or chicken, and steamed or grilled vegetables. As an after dinner snack, I have fresh watermelon, berries or peaches.
I used to never work out. Watching TV and eating were my strenuous exercises. But I started walking two miles each day and gradually increased it by half a mile at a time until I could walk 13.1 -- I just finished the Palm Beach half-marathon and have never felt better. After pushing myself to strenuously walk such a great distance, eating was the last thing on my mind. Walking was a tool to keep me motivated to reach my goal.
Finding a balance between increasing my calories so I don't lose more weight or gain weight is a constant battle that I am conscious of to this day. It's important to weigh myself every week to gauge my weight so I can make adjustments to the amount of food I am consuming as needed. But, with the help of my ten basic commandments of dieting, I've maintained my weight loss. They are:
1. Be real and honest with yourself (i.e., for me, it was admitting I have an addiction and compulsion)
2. Understand how you gained the weight and why.
3. Find a diet and a lifestyle that works for you.
4. Plan in advance your daily eating plan.
5. Set a realistic goal.
6. Variety is the spice of life.
7. The scale is not your friend or your enemy, it is just a number.
8. Take baby steps when exercising.
9. Get a support system.
10. Envision how wonderful it will be to achieve your goal throughout the journey and when you get there. In addition, plan how you want to keep the weight off.
I discovered a way of losing weight after years of struggling and yo-yo dieting and now, I would like to help others do the same through my website Edthewellnesscoach.com.
After Weight: 164 pounds
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