02/23/2012 10:52 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Weight Loss Master

This is my ongoing series on people who have lost weight successfully and are keeping it off. The fascinating thing about this is that even though all the people I have worked with over the years, have interviewed for my book Foodaholic: The Seven Stages to Permanent Weight Loss, and that I'm featuring here are taking in fewer calories and/or burning more than they did at their top weights, their methods for doing that are quite varied.

The thing that allows these people, myself included, to keep weight off is that we continue to do the behaviors we did to lose the weight. None of us went on a diet, and then went off it. We all made permanent, lasting changes. That is the only way to successfully lose weight and keep it off. Going on and off diets never works long-term.

Today I am featuring Christopher Hopkinson. His is a unique and inspiring story of how his weight loss was a side effect of a new found passion for Zumba.

Here is what Christopher looked like before.


Here is what Christopher looks like now.


1) How much weight have you lost?

I have lost a total of 56 lbs without even intending to do so. The first 40 lbs came off in around four months. I note my weight on a calendar everyday and it is really inspiring to see the weight drop little by little.

2) Do you think people treat you differently now?

I have witnessed a number of changes in the way I am treated as a result of my weight loss, not all good. First the bad, my wife became extremely jealous of my ability to dance Zumba and of the weight I had lost. She hated me for it and could not understand why she as a Latina could not do Zumba and me as a male English guy could. She said I now made her feel uncomfortable in her own appearance. She said I was too thin. Stopped hugging and all physical contact. We were already having a tough time in our marriage but now she simply wanted out. We filed for divorce recently.

My work colleagues tell me I look 10 years younger and how much better I look. People look up and pay more attention to me when I speak. I have more of a swagger about me. I am confident and proud of the way I look and I think people pick up on that.

At the age of 47 and for the first time in my life I have actually been approached by at least 12 women recently who have told me that I look "hot," whatever that means. That has never happened before.

I have even seen jealously from other men because of the way I can dance, the way that I look and the way that ladies enjoy dancing with me. In one case this brought out insecurities in one husband who questioned if his wife had been unfaithful because we had become such good friends. Needless to say she was faithful and so in love with her husband. However it made me stop to think what people may think.

3) Do you feel like a different person or the same person with less weight on you?

There is no doubt that my physical appearance is completely different. I am not a different person. I am me and have always been me. It's just that a new chapter in my life has opened up and this is now a part of my life story. My fundamental beliefs and values are still the same and the way I conduct myself is pretty much the same. I know my mental state has changed. I know I am able to cope with life's stresses better, I know I smile a lot more, I feel healthier, fitter and happier to be slimmer than I was.

4) What made you decide to lose weight?

For me, it was not a decision to lose weight. It was a decision to follow a new pastime called Zumba. This became a desire that turned into a passion, which turned into a way to have a positive impact on people's lives. That has always been one of my goals in life and Zumba is a vehicle that allows me to do this. The weight loss was a real bonus and such a benefit.

5) How did you lose it?

In May 2011, my then sister-in-law opened a dance studio, iDanze Studio Orlando with a business partner. Zumba was their main activity. She had tried to get me to go to Zumba so many times with her over the previous couple of years and I had always side-stepped the invitation. Well now it was a question of supporting her new business and of course I had to do that. I did the first class, was completely lost but absolutely loved the energy and moves that I could see and feel around me. I decided that this was going to be my replacement for all the ball sports I had played, and committed to learn the dance moves. I started attending classes and now go pretty much everyday. Weight loss was not even a consideration.

I enjoy Zumba so much and in November of 2011, after only dancing five months I became an instructor and love getting on stage and leading a group of people through different dance routines. At Christmas I was one of eight who represented our studio in an exhibition of Zumba to a group of over 350 people. I have been involved in leading songs in a number of master classes and have been featured as a guest Zumba instructor at local keep fit centers. This year I will have my own class.

It takes hard work, commitment, dedication, passion and sacrifice at times if you are to reach your goals in life. I believe that sometimes, no matter how hard you chase something, it always managers to elude you. So you have to try a different approach, come at it from a different position. It reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun. One of the ladies is saying that as a little child she loved butterflies and would chase them around the meadow for hours with her net trying to catch one but never did. One day she fell asleep in the meadow and woke up covered with them.

For more by Irene Rubaum-Keller, click here.

For more personal health stories, click here.