- Losing lots of weight forces you to make major changes to your mindset and lifestyle.
- There are a slew of success stories of people losing a large percentage of weight and keeping it off for good.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
As times change, one thing remains consistent: people want to lose weight. They put their body through fad diets and trendy exercises in the hopes of lowering the number on the scale. And, more often than not, those programs work – but only temporarily. More often than not, people tend to gain the weight back as soon as they return to their old habits.
But there are the success stories: the people who’ve lost – and kept off – a large percentage of weight. The key to their success is making lifestyle changes instead of depending on a trendy diet or exercise. Whether motivated by a favourite piece of clothing or a health scare, these people put in the work to lose weight. And their transformations are incredible.
Here are 20 people’s remarkable weight loss stories, and their tips for keeping the pounds away.
Alicia Briggs: 100+ pounds lost
At 10 years old, Alicia Briggs weighed almost 200 pounds. Now the 24-year-old weighs 38 pounds less than she did as a child.
After being diagnosed with pre-diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and being told she might not be able to have children, Briggs decided to undergo a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
“The thought of possibly not being able to have children shook me to the core,” Briggs previously told INSIDER. “I think that it was the moment that I realised that my health and choices weren’t only affecting me, but my future family as well.”
Following the procedure, Briggs adopted some new habits, including exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and eliminating soda and pork from her diet. Despite criticism for her approach to weight loss, Briggs wouldn’t change a thing.
“People often say that surgery is the easy way out, but I will never regret it,” she said. “This beautiful tool has helped me reach my goals and believe in myself enough to go further in life than I ever would have without it.”
Margaret Hewitson: 115 pounds lost
After her mother died, Margaret Hewitson sought comfort in food. According to SWNS, the 61-year-old would snack throughout the day and order takeout at night. These habits caused the weight to pile on, and Hewitson was soon 269 pounds. The excess weight made it difficult for her to perform everyday tasks like climbing stairs and tying her shoes.
“I had to ask my husband or my son to do it for me,” Hewitson told SWNS. “I couldn’t put my socks on either because I was so big I couldn’t bend over.
But the scariest part of her weight gain was the development of type 2 diabetes. At her heaviest, Hewitson was taking up to six insulin injections a day to help control the illness.
Knowing her health was in jeopardy, Hewitson joined Slimmingworld (the UK version of Weight Watchers) and swapped takeout for home cooked meals. Now weighing 154 pounds, Hewitson says she still enjoys treats but in moderation.
“If I want chocolate I will have it,” she said. “If I can lose weight anyone can.”
Paul Garland: 100 pounds lost
Unable to find a Christmas sweater that fit his frame, Paul Garland vowed to lose weight in 2017 – a resolution that he had tried and failed at many times before. This time, however, the 64-year-old enlisted the help of a new age method: hypnotism.
“I thought ‘I’ve tried all sort of diets, I’ll try hypnotism,'” Garland told South West News Service (SWNS).
Caroline Apovian, a professor of medicine and pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management, has seen several patients use and benefit from the technique, specifically those with psychological conditions.
“There are many patients who complain of anxiety which makes them overeat, and this is certainly ameliorated by a hypnotic state,”Apovian previously told INSIDER.
Although it’s unclear if that was the case for Garland, the method worked. In a year, he lost about 100 pounds and was finally able to wear the festive sweater of his dreams.
Fay Marshall: 120 pounds lost
Fay Marshall knew that she needed to make a serious change when people began mistaking her as pregnant and offering her seats on the train.
Determined to lose weight, Marshall joined Slimming World, a weight-loss program that required her to make weekly goals and check-in on her progress with a group. Marshall was squeezing into size 22 trousers when she started the program, but after a year, she had lost 120 pounds.
Marshall told INSIDER that taking weight loss one day at a time and making small changes in her diet and exercise habits made the process more manageable for her.
She learned how to make recipes healthier by using lean meat and lower calorie oils. She also made sure she was making foods that she was excited to eat, so she wouldn’t be as likely to stray from her plan. When she did stray, she didn’t beat herself up for it. “As long as you draw the line and get back to it, it doesn’t make that much difference,” she told INSIDER.
Instead of forcing herself to go to the gym, Marshall followed workout DVDs at home and incorporated more activity into her daily life. As she got closer to her goal, she started swimming and took spinning classes.
Marshall told INSIDER that her biggest piece of advice for people wanting to lose weight is to avoid getting bogged down with how long the process will take. “Time will pass anyway,” she said. “You might as well just take it one day at a time and each day you’re a step closer to your goal.”
Laura Eastel: 159 pounds lost
As a child, Laura Eastel was caught in a vicious cycle. Often bullied for being heavier than her classmates, she turned to junk food for comfort. This coping mechanism, however, made her put on more weight, which would initiate more jokes from her classmates. By 19, SWNS reports that Eastel weighed about 266 pounds.
She fell into another weight gain cycle in 2005 when she became pregnant with her first child. According to SWNS, her diet at the time consisted of chocolate biscuits, pizza, fried chicken, and soda. These habits brought her to her heaviest weight: 290 pounds. It wasn’t until she took a trip down memory lane in 2014 that she decided to make weight loss a priority.
“I was at my parents’ house when they decided to get out our old family albums,” she tells SWNS. “Flicking through the pages, we stopped on one of me bulging out of my school uniform, I was horrified.”
Eastel joined Slimming World and traded her junk food for fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Now, three years later, she weighs 131 pounds – a fraction of her former size.
“Losing weight has changed my appearance completely,” she tells SWNS. “When I walked past a girl who used to bully me recently, the look of shock on her face made my day.”
James Johnson: 160 pounds lost
James Johnson was no stranger to the weight loss journey. In fact, the 40-year-old publisher had lost substantial weight three times before, only to gain it back each time.
This time, however, was different. In 2016, Johnson was told he had lupus and the diagnosis, coupled with poor eating choices, lead him to gain over 100 pounds. When he hit 300 pounds, he knew he needed to lose – and keep off – the weight.
Believing “the only way to truly know you’re not eating properly is to know exactly what you’re eating,” Johnson downloaded the Lose it! App. Using this weight loss tool he was able to count calories, track his exercise, plan his meals, and set personal goals. He became a Premium member of the app, and incorporated it into his daily routine.
Despite his tough stance on dieting, Johnson understood that losing weight is a process that takes time.
“I took it one step at a time, monitoring my food intake, and slowly incorporating exercise into my daily routine,” told INSIDER.
Six months later, Johnson is down 120 pounds, a gym regular, and no longer reliant on his blood pressure medication.
Andrew Dasselaar: 160 pounds lost
Andrew Dasselaar has tried to lose weight in the past, but exercise phases and fad diets left his weight in a yo-yo state. Then in 2013, when he was “morbidly obese,” according to an article he wrote for Business Insider, he decided to take a different approach.
By adjusting his eating habits, running, and practicing meditation, Dasselaar was able to lose 154 pounds in less than a year. He eventually turned his tips into a book called “Let Go,” in which he shared his weight loss advice with others who hope to achieve similar goals.
Adam Moffat: 168 pounds lost
At his heaviest weight, Adam Moffat suffered from sleep apnea, had high blood pressure, and was so too tired to keep up with his two daughters. But, according to SWNS,the 44-year-old wasn’t motivated to lose weight until his wife talked about a friend who went through a complete transformation.
To kick-start the weight loss, Moffat swapped his breakfast cakes and afternoon candy for Cambridge Weight Plan, a UK-based company that tailor makes diets for customers. SWNS notes that he was eating roughly 800 calories a day on the program. (It’s worth noting that, according to SELF, health risks rise when a person eats less than 1,200 calories a day.) This diet helped him shed 168 pounds – roughly half of his body weight – in 31 weeks, according to SWNS.
“It feels absolutely great to have lost so much weight,” Moffat told SWNS. “I felt as if when I was bigger people kept looking at me. It is just nice to feel sort of normal again.”
David Roden: 168+ pounds lost
Growing up, Davie Roden thought nothing of eating an entire Costco-sized bag of peanut butter cups. Not only did they taste good, but they filled an emotional void. As a result, he found himself weighing close to 400 pounds in high school – a concern for his father, who is a cardiologist.
“That made things very interesting growing up,” Roden told INSIDER of his father’s occupation.
Despite his dad’s medical degree, neither he nor Roden’s mother shamed or forced diets on their son. And ultimately, that may have been for the best. As Roden told INSIDER, it wasn’t until he switched jobs and found his own motivation that he began to lose weight.
“I joined a networking company and started hanging out with people who found fitness important,” Roden said. He slowly began testing new exercises with his colleagues and making healthy food swaps.
Almost four years later, he has gone from 408 to 240 pounds. Roden credits this to switching up his diet and exercise, which prevents him from getting bored and complacent.
Jessica Beniquez: 175 pounds lost
In February 2016, Jessica Beniquez weighed over 320 pounds and felt lazy. So she decided to do something about it. According to People, Beniquez stuck to a strict 1,200 to 1,500 calorie diet and started working out more.
Now, almost two years later, the 21-year-old weighs 145 pounds and can tackle fitness challenges she never thought possible.
“Before it took me 20 minutes to walk a mile and now I can run five miles in under 50 minutes,” she told People. “It’s crazy the things I can do now that I couldn’t do before.”
But it’s worth noting that Beniquez never hated her former self. The Florida resident documents her transformation on social media, and regularly reminds followers that it’s not about how you look: it’s how you feel.
“I loved my life even when I was heavy, I loved and still love all my friends and family that were by my side then and now,” she wrote in a post from November 2017. “I am still that same person I was when I was over 300 pounds. I am just more happy and confident and I’m not going to let anyone take that away from me.”
Janice and William Robertson: 196 combined pounds lost
Weight was never a major concern for Janice and William Robertson, who got married in 2017. But after being diagnosed with diabetes, William knew he had to make a change: specifically, he knew he had to lose weight, according to SWNS. Janice decided to join him on the journey, thinking it would benefit both of them.
“It was so much better because it became a bit of a competition,” Janice told the outlet.
SWNS reported that the two joined a slimming class and, before they knew it, they had a lost a total of 196 pounds. To celebrate their accomplishment, Janice and William decided to have a second wedding.
“I was a size 22 and none of the dresses fitted me. I was sad about how I looked in them,” Janice said. “But when I went dress shopping for the second time it was amazing. When I saw myself I burst into tears.”
Tony Howland: 210 pounds lost
At 41 years old, Tony Howland weighed over 400 pounds and found that the excess pounds prevented him from travelling, walking, and even sitting. One day, after breaking nearly every chair in his home, SWNS reports that Howland saw a photo of himself in the only chair that could accommodate his frame. That was the wake-up call he needed.
“The photo was taken by my wife to show me how big I had got,” he told the outlet. “That was a moment of realisation without a shadow of a doubt.”
Howland joined a Slimming World group and began eating fish, poultry, veg and fruit: a huge difference from the roast dinners and McDonald’s he was used to. He also took up walking, starting with a half mile and gradually increasing the distance, according to SWNS.
Almost two years later, Howland has managed to lose 210 pounds and gain a new outlook on life.
“People say to me ‘Your life must be completely different’ and my response is that I live in a different world,” he said.
His new size and passion for walking has led Howland to a new goal: scaling Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles.
Matt Briggs: 240 pounds lost
Matt Briggs was always one of the bigger kids growing up, but he never felt unhealthy. But after his mum was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, things took a turn.
Briggs, a teen at the time, sought comfort in chocolate bars and snacks as his mother’s health declined, and after her death, his weight kept increasing. He had tried everything to lose weight – from shakes, to pills, to extreme calorie restriction – but nothing worked.
He was up to a 5XL top and 56-inch waist trousers when his father offered to pay for him to join a weight-loss program called Slimming World. Briggs had grown sceptical of diet programs, but he decided to give it a try after seeing a family photo in which he appeared to be twice the size of his father.
Briggs started attending weekly meetings and made adjustments to his lifestyle. He began cooking more, packing his lunch, and walking places instead of driving. When Briggs started Slimming World, he weighed nearly 440 pounds, but after only six weeks in the program, he was down almost 30 pounds.
The key for Briggs was to take weight loss one step at a time. “I would always find something on the calendar to look forward to like a wedding or birthday,” Briggs told INSIDER.
Briggs lost nearly 240 pounds since starting the program, and for the most part, he’s maintained it. He told INSIDER he never looked at the big picture because he thought it was more useful to focus on the small changes he could make each day.
Jermaine Gause: 303+ pounds lost
Most people make a promise to lose weight in the privacy of their home or, at the most, tell a few friends about their goal. But Jermaine Gause made a declaration to change his life on national TV.
During a 2016 appearance on “The Doctors,” the then 37-year-old said he had always been the “big guy” and was ready to make a change.
“I’m not ready to leave this planet,” Gause said. “And I know the way I am now, I probably don’t have much time.”
At the time, Gause weighed 639 pounds, was eating 10 times the amount of recommended sugar per day, suffering from cardio vascular issues, and at risk for developing fatty liver disease, People reported.
The Michigan native joined Live in Fitness, a residential weight-loss program that focuses on basic changes like a healthy diet and exercise. He also documented his weight loss on social media as a way to stay accountable and inspire others.
The habits he learned at Live in Fitness allowed him to lose 303 pounds in a year-and-a-half – and finally live the life he wanted.
“I remember being upset that #nike didn’t make clothes in my size,” Gause wrote in an Instagram post from October 2017. Well they have been saying #JUSTDOIT for years. So 300 pounds later I DID IT.”
Amber and Beau: 312 combined pounds lost
High school sweethearts Amber and Beau noticed the pounds slowly started to add up after they welcomed their first child in 2013.
“I took the whole eating for two a little too seriously,”Amber said during a segment on “The Rachael Ray Show” in 2017. “Those habits that we gained when I was pregnant just never went away.”
At their heaviest, Amber and Beau weighed 363 pounds and 357 pounds, respectively. The weight gain took a toll on their energy levels, sex life, and marriage, with Beau saying they considered divorce at one point.
The couple eventually embarked on a weight loss journey, making small steps like swapping ground beef for ground turkey and walking. In the first month, they lost 30 pounds each.
As of September 2017, Amber has lost 185 pounds and Beau has lost 127 pounds. Their clothes, however, were still those of their former weights. The two appeared on “The Rachael Ray Show,” where they received post-weight loss makeovers. Ray was stunned by the results – as were Amber and Beau.
Lexi and Danny Reed: 394 combined pounds lost
In 2016, married couple Lexi and Danny Reed made a New Year’s resolution to get health. Now, almost two years later, the couple has lost a combined 394 pounds – and counting.
The key to their weight loss success was trading in TV viewing for joint exercising. Working out with your partner has been shown to improve both your relationship and your fitness, so it makes sense that once the Reeds started replacing TV time with workout time things changed.
In order to keep herself accountable and inspire others, Lexi began documenting her weight loss journey on the he Instagram account FatGirlFedUp.
“I post pictures of myself covered in sweat, makeup running down my face, rocking my husband’s t-shirts, and every single day I put myself in a place to be vulnerable,” she previously told INSIDER. “I put it all out there because if I can help one person that’s what I want to do.”
Jaqueline Adan: 350+ pounds lost
In 2011, blogger Jaqueline Adan embarked on a weight loss journey that would change her life. According to her website, she hit rock bottom that year when she stepped on the scale and saw she weighed 500 pounds. From that day forward, Adan took a natural approach to weight loss that involved joining Jenny Craig and exercising more.
Cut to December 2016, when Adan had lost more than 300 pounds and undergone two skin removal surgeries to remove the excess skin left by her transformation. Despite the weight loss and surgeries, however, Adan still faces criticism for her figure. In September 2017, she took to Instagram to talk about a particular body-shaming moment she encountered on vacation.
“I was nervous to take my cover up off and to walk into the pool or walk on the beach. I still felt like that same 500 pound girl … then it happened,” she wrote. “A couple sitting by the pool started laughing and pointing at me and making fun of me as soon as I took my cover up off.”
Rather than hide, she “took a deep breath, smiled and walked into the pool.” As Adan later told Refinery 29, that incident marked a major milestone for her, as she realised she was finally confident.
“I know it’s not easy to love yourself all the time and love exactly who you are, especially if you have been criticised and made fun of all of your life. I know it is hard,” she told the website. “But your opinion of yourself is the only opinion that matters. Only you know what you are going through and only you have the power inside yourself to be truly happy.”
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