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Name: Brian McLaughlin
Before Weight: 330 pounds
How I Gained It: I've been overweight my whole life. Growing up in Ireland, we measured weight in stones (14 pounds per stone), and until I was 20, I weighed the same in stones as I was in years. So at 10 years old, I was 140 pounds, 20 years old I was 280 pounds. By the age of 30, I'd reached 330 pounds, which was my heaviest.
Over the years I'd try to diet -- I'd eat eight slices of toast a day with some dry chicken breast and canned fruit, for example. It was a completely unrealistic way to live, which means when a goal was achieved I'd slide back to "normal" (unhealthy) eating.
Breaking Point: Once I'd reached 330 pounds, it was getting harder and harder to find clothes that fit, and I didn't feel good about myself. I noticed my girlfriend started making healthier food choices, so I was aware that she was probably trying to lose weight. It almost guilted me into starting down that path, too -- I realized it was selfish of me to sit idle while the person I was with was trying to improve her life.
Another moment I'll never forget: The day I went for a physical to obtain my green card to relocate to New York City from Ireland, my blood pressure was 135 over 92. I recall the doctor saying, "You're healthy enough to get into the U.S., but I'm not sure how long you're going to last!"
How I Lost It: My mother and several aunts in the U.K. had joined Slimming World. I started to see my relatives' success, so I decided to join the online program here. There are many reasons why it worked for me, but one of the main aspects of it is the inspiration I received to keep going and to never give up on my goals. I also liked that the eating plan doesn't require you to count everything, and it taught me how to have the volume of food required to not be hungry. I also had the freedom to enjoy the treats in life in moderation. I was coming to this from an excessive lifestyle; I recently totaled up what I used to eat all day, and the calorie count came in at about 7,000 calories. Now, everything I eat is so much healthier: grilled meats, steamed vegetables, fruit, baked potatoes. I typically eat out once a week, and I'm never embarrassed to ask for what I want: Hold the sauce, no butter on a lobster tail, etc.
My exercise habits have also changed. Before, they were nonexistent! Now I take stairs instead of elevators. I park farther from stores. I run to the ferry if I think I can catch the next one instead of presuming I'll miss it. All of those small changes have helped a lot, but the next step is to join a gym.
I have a healthy relationship with food now, and it's improved my overall happiness. My company has an "empowering wellness" drive, which attempts to promote healthy living among employees. At the end of 2012, I reached out to the CEO and suggested that a great reward for people changing the quality of their lives would be to ring the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor. On December 31, several of us got the chance to do that to celebrate our achievements. I used to reward myself with food, so the bell-ringing ceremony was much healthier. It was probably the coolest thing I've ever done.
After Weight: 183 pounds
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