11 of the Most Inspirational Weight-Loss Transformations
Need some major inspiration to jump-start your weight-loss goals? Look no further than these motivating stories of transformation. If these men and women can shed the pounds, so can you!
“My wife’s courageous cancer battle inspired me to be healthier.”
In November 2015, newspaper editor Jon LaFontaine was faced with devastating news he never expected to hear: His wife, Emily, had leukemia. During this dark time, this couple fought together to win the scary battle, which included Emily’s two bone marrow transplants. Throughout his life, LaFontaine had struggled with unhealthy food addiction. But after witnessing the love of his life conquer leukemia—her doctors declared her cancer-free in December 2016—LaFontaine was inspired to change his lifestyle and prioritize his health.
Over the course of a year, he dropped 95 pounds, crediting much of his success to Subway, where he selected veggie-rich meals instead of more fatty options. Once he started exercising and burning more calories, he added low-carbohydrate snacks but always paid close attention to his calorie intake to ensure that he was burning more than he was consuming.
While the details might seem exhausting, LaFontaine believes that shifting his lifestyle and mental attitude is what made weight loss possible. “If you want to lose weight, it’s about committing yourself to choosing healthy options, moderating the portions, and forcing your body into action. It requires consistency, too,” he says, “actively squashing excuses to eat bad food, excuses to avoid working out, and excuses to ‘start next week.’ It took me eight months and one day to lose 95 pounds; however, it took me nearly 12 months to even start my healthy journey.”
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“I finally said yes to gastric bypass surgery.”
Although some might think gastric bypass surgery is the easy way out, real estate salesperson Tyler Whitman knows otherwise: “It still requires a lot of work and discipline,” he says. He credits his choice to undergo the procedure as a turning point in his year—and his life. After trying to lose weight every way he could think of, he was actually at his heaviest ever (357 pounds), and he knew he couldn’t keep going at that rate. He lacked energy, felt uncomfortable, and desperately wanted to make a change. That’s when he looked at a friend and told him, “This is the last time I’m going to tell you that this is the year I’m losing the weight.”
Whitman signed up for a gastric sleeve, invested in a personal trainer six days a week, and shifted his eating habits—and then dropped 175 pounds in eight months. This was so much better than any fad diet he had tried in the past, he says, because of how he’s shifted his routine to lasting healthy habits. The experience for Whitman has been not just physical but emotional, too, what he calls the “most magical journey.”
“Everyone will have an opinion. Some will tell you why what you’re doing is unhealthy, no matter the route you choose, or how you should do it differently,” he says. “Block that noise out, put your blinders on, and go for glory. When your persistence wins and your results show up, so do your cheerleaders. Let your success shine so you can inspire others. That is what kept me inspired in the tough days. And believe me, the tough days still happen. But you will be stronger and handle them better than ever before.
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“I was tired of feeling unhappy about my body—so I changed it.”
In early 2016, Adriel Vissani woke up feeling sick to death of his dissatisfaction with his body. In an effort to gain confidence and also to finally try bodybuilding—something that had always interested him—he sought to lose weight to make training easier. Within six months he’d dropped 60 pounds, allowing him to pursue his bodybuilding dream.
How did he achieve these results? He restricted junk food and invested in a workout routine. Not only did he perform cardio for three hours a day, but he also cut out bad carbohydrates and refined sugars. Another key component? Drinking green tea and having the right attitude, Vissani says.
“Weight loss is a journey,” he shares. “It’s hard at the beginning, but as the results start to show, you start to get even more motivated to lose more weight. Healthy eating and fitness have become my lifestyle. I don’t diet because I watch what I eat every day. I’m conscious of this because I want to look and feel healthy and be able to inspire and motivate others that don’t think they can achieve their goals.”
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“I lost weight to show my children anything is possible.”
Matthew Parrow Eckeard had struggled with his weight his whole life, but it wasn’t until he became a father that he felt the drive to make a significant investment in his health and transform his habits. When he realized he couldn’t do everything he wanted to do with his children because of his weight, he decided to become a positive example for his kids. In an effort to illustrate that anything is possible, he made a commitment to change.
Eckeard had tried diet and exercise programs in the past, but none could help him both lose weight and maintain the loss. So he invested in a personal trainer. After only a few months, Eckeard saw significant progress, dropping 41 pounds. While his journey has only just begun, he refuses to let anything stand in his way, including injuries from a recent car accident. “I cannot allow this simple thing to stop me from continuing to meet my goals,” he says. “We all have those roadblocks that come up in life. However, it’s determination that allows us to overcome and surpass those barriers. Do not give up on your dreams and goals, and remember that anything is possible as long as you are determined.”
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“A commercial changed my life.”
For Daniel Pena, the journey toward obesity took about 10 years, and at the end of it, he was almost 200 pounds overweight. Worse, says Pena, was his attitude: “I no longer cared. I basically gave up on trying fad and crash diets. I then started using the excuse that it was my genes or I had a thyroid problem, and losing weight was out of my control. I kept having to buy bigger and bigger clothes. I knew I was morbidly obese, but I just gave up.” Then he saw a commercial for the P90X3 program, and thought, “If they can do it… I can, too.” And he did.
In addition to following P90X and Beachbody programs, Pena stopped living to eat, and now he eats to live. After the first year of this new routine, he’d lost 100 pounds; by the end of 2017, he’d dropped 180 pounds. His shirt size went from a 4XL to a Large. Pena’s waist size was now 34, down from 56. While he’s excited by his new body and boundless energy, it’s the thought that he’s living a fuller—and potentially longer—life that makes him truly thankful. “I’m fairly positive I’ve added years on to my life, additional years to see my two daughters get married, additional years to be around for possible grandchildren, additional years to grow older together with my wife of 23 years.”
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“When I couldn’t recognize my reflection, I had to find my way back.”
When Raven Wright looked in the mirror in 2016, she didn’t recognize the reflection. Seeing all the weight she had gained, she was overwhelmed by disappointment and sadness; she mourned the person she used to be. It was a grim moment, but it triggered a commitment to improving her health and her life.
To begin this journey, she decided to hire a trainer through a local studio, DIAKADI Fitness in San Francisco. Wright calls this step the best decision she’s ever made. She dropped her weight from 224 pounds to 178 pounds by working out five days a week and eating clean. In addition to this positive shift in her lifestyle, Wright says, it’s also been important to become her own greatest cheerleader through the many ups and downs on the way. It’s the advice she’d give to those looking to make their own weight-loss transformations.
“Trust the process and stay disciplined. I’m speaking from experience when I say it’s a gnarly mental game. It’s key to stay focused on your goals,” she shares. “Keep reminding yourself why you decided to make this change. Take pictures and hang on to your old clothes. When you’re feeling like you’re not seeing results, look back at those pictures or try on your older clothes.”
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“My children were my inspiration to change everything.”
On the way home from a local amusement park, Andrea Barlow’s son Kyle asked her a difficult question: “Mommy, why don’t you ever get on the rides with me like Daddy does? I want you to get on the rides, too.” Looking at her children, Barlow realized that she was missing out. They were the catalyst she needed to drop weight and stop feeling miserable about her body and self-esteem. In that difficult moment, she discovered the inner strength to transform her life: “I could do nothing and continue to miss moments with my children, remaining miserable and trapped, or do something about my situation once and for all,” she shares. The choice was simple.
Barlow got started on her weight-loss journey via Beachbody, choosing to follow programs like the 21-Day Fix and Insanity Max:30 to get her going. Over two years, she dropped more than 165 pounds while completely reshaping her body, her attitude, and her life. “I don’t go to bed wishing I would die in my sleep anymore. I go to bed feeling excited and accomplished. My new life is filled with first-time experiences. I’m no longer trapped in what I can’t do,” she says. “I’m on a mission to live limitlessly. I fulfilled my son’s promise to get on the rides with him one year into my journey—and I never have to be excluded again. I’m no longer afraid of life. I became the role model my children deserved.”
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“I finally found boxing—and it really worked.”
For many people, a big obstacle on the path to their own weight-loss transformations is finding the type of exercise that excites them to work out every day. Not everyone is thrilled by running, CrossFit, yoga, Pilates, and other routines. This was the case for Karl Burr, who tried for three years to find a program he could stick with and shed pounds. Then he discovered boxing—and everything changed. He lost 310 pounds by going to frequent classes and personal training at TITLE Boxing Club in Brighton, Michigan. Though he had help from a gastric sleeve and medications, consistency in his fitness program was the turning point, and it’s made it possible for him to keep off the weight.
“Find your ‘why’! Why do you want this?” Burr says. “Discover a form of exercise you love. If you don’t love your workout, you will not do it. Believe in yourself, love yourself. Remember that you are worth all the work.”
“I got professional help to end my emotional eating.”
After having her second child, Joanna Wilcox couldn’t shed the extra weight she gained, even after trying Weight Watchers, 21-Day Fix, and good old-fashioned calorie counting. Though she would initially drop some weight, she could never keep it off. This roller-coaster ride wreaked havoc not just on her waistline but on her confidence, too. “I was really exhausted and tired of being in a body that didn’t feel like my own anymore,” she shares. That’s when she decided to seek help for her emotional eating.
A battle that many people face, emotional eating is defined by having the urge to eat when anxious or stressed. Wilcox has dramatically reshaped herself, eventually losing 60 pounds in a year. For her diet, she seeks low-carbohydrate foods and tracks her macronutrient levels. She also works out regularly to tone and shape her changing body. Wilcox also has the support of an online community that keeps her motivated when she’s feeling less than stellar. All of these aspects have made it possible for her to shed weight.
“Consistency is the main reason why people fail at losing weight, and if you can just commit, you will achieve results even you never thought were possible,” she says. “Accountability is also important. Find a friend to commit with, or surround yourself with others following a similar diet. Finding a weight-loss community where you feel supported can make a huge difference in your weight-loss journey.”
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“I found a way to lose weight and still enjoy life.”
Although author Fred Bollaci wanted to lose weight, he also wanted to continue doing the things in life that brought him joy. Because he loved to dine out and travel, he was worried that a diet would restrict this fulfilling pastime. He was teetering at 330 pounds and suffering from sleep apnea, high blood pressure, back and joint pain, and prediabetes. To get his health back on track and still be satisfied with his life, he found a way to eat at restaurants four or five nights a week—and was even able to drink wine on occasion—yet still drop 150 pounds.
Bollaci worked on a plan with a nutritionist and physician. “I learned to engage the restaurant staff and worked with many great chefs who were eager to help me on my quest to get healthier and continue to enjoy their restaurants! I started walking every day and gradually increased my speed and the duration,” he says.
After losing 30 pounds, he had the energy to work out—which allowed him occasional indulgences like pizza, pasta, bread, or dessert. After dropping 50 pounds, he was able to hit the gym several times a week and start swimming, biking, and jogging.
“I learned to make better choices in restaurants and at home by shopping and cooking healthier, emphasizing quality,” he says. “Most diets preach eating bland, boring, or unpalatable foods for a given amount of time in order to lose weight. They fail to offer realistic chances for long-term success—how to eat once the weight is gone. Start by making better choices, eating less quantity and opting for better quality, and learn to love yourself, which leads to eating healthier and getting into shape. Don’t set a specific time frame for losing the weight, as each of us is different. Put one foot in front of the other and simply start.”
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“An Instagram account helped me lose the baby weight.”
After back-to-back pregnancies, Natalie couldn’t drop the weight she’d gained while preparing her babies for the world: “I wanted energy; I wanted to feel like the happy and joyous person that I was born to be. I often felt very sad and stuck in a body that wasn’t mine,” she says. And then she found the popular FitGirlsGuide on Instagram. In addition to providing the resources she needed to lose weight, the program offered a supportive community that made her feel welcome, regardless of her size or struggles. The interactive online group held her accountable for meeting her goals while still being able to care for her kids at home.
Natalie’s advice to others? “Drink lots of water, add lots of veggies to meals, schedule meal preps and your times to eat,” she says. “But mostly, love who you are enough to want to improve yourself. Don’t wait until you have ‘arrived at your destination’ to appreciate yourself.”
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