The holidays are over. It’s a new year, full of promise and possibility. Is 2012 the year you improve your personal health and harmony by shedding excess pounds?
If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place for inspiration. We rounded up five area residents to share their impressive weight loss stories. Our “biggest losers” reinforce the fact that, no matter how old you are, the key to losing weight — and keeping it off — is to go slowly, eat healthy food, and exercise regularly. So long, fad diets.
By Paula Detwiller
Two years ago, Jane Hebert made a New Year’s resolution to lose 100-plus pounds.
“I couldn’t walk from here to the pool across the street without stopping,” she says. “My doctor told me, take off weight or you won’t live much longer.”
So Hebert, then 75, went back to Weight Watchers — and this time, she made a pledge to attend weekly.
“I had joined Weight Watchers a few years earlier and lost weight. I said, OK, I can do this by myself now. But no, I gained it all back and then some. I realized I need that support — and it has really paid off.”
Over a two-year period, Hebert lost 120 pounds, slimming down from 260 to 134.
“By weighing in each week and hearing the stories of others, you are giving and getting moral support. It keeps you on the ball,” she says.
After she lost the first 25 pounds, Hebert began a daily walking routine. She walks four miles a day around her neighborhood with the help of her New Balance walking poles. She no longer needs high blood pressure medication, sleeps very well, and has shrunk from a size 26 to a size 12.
Her husband and doctor couldn’t be happier.
Maintenance worker, Delray Beach
Original weight: 345
Current weight: 241
Words of wisdom:
If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right!
LOST 104 pounds
Vanessa Lovvorn, Delray Beach
When her father was diagnosed with lung cancer, Vanessa Lovvorn wisely stopped smoking. But over the next year, as her dad slowly died from the disease, she gained 100 pounds. Her weight hovered in the mid-300-pound range over the next 12 years.
Desperate, Lovvorn consulted a psychiatrist. He talked her out of lap-band surgery and gave her a series of homework assignments: eliminate your addiction to soda (she was drinking two 2-liter bottles a day); stop biting your fingernails; and begin following a weight-loss plan
Check, check, and check. By mid-2011, Lovvorn’s weight went from 345 to about 300. She began working with a fitness trainer and a nutritional counselor at Level 5 Fitness and Conditioning in Delray Beach. She has lost 104 pounds over a 17-month period, and plans to lose at least 60 more.
“I’m never going back to the person I used to be,” she says. “I’m happy now. I can actually look in the mirror and say I love who I am. That’s the difference.”
Lovvorn credits her “army” of supporters, including her family and trainers, for keeping her motivated. A diet of small, frequent meals emphasizing protein and complex carbohydrates has helped Lovvern tame her sweet tooth.
“If I do crave something sweet, I’ll have 2 tablespoons of sugar-free, fat-free chocolate syrup in a glass of milk,” she says. “But I don’t get those urges very often. I work so hard in here, I don’t want to self-sabotage.”
Original weight: 192
Current weight: 149
Words of wisdom: It’s all about what you put into your body.
When Zach Rogers decides to cheat a little on his dietary plan, he’ll have a couple of reduced-fat Oreos and some almond milk. Reality check: other guys his age are wolfing down Big Macs and Mountain Dew.
At 22, Rogers has committed himself to “clean eating” — lean protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats — and building his body at Fitness Now gym in Boca Raton.
“I lift weights five to six days a week. And if I’m not lifting weights, I’ve got a date with the Stairmaster,” he says.
Rogers was a skinny kid who ballooned up in high school, according to his mother, Bonnie, a personal trainer. He weighed 192 upon graduation, but he didn’t like what he saw and shrank himself to 124 pounds within a year. Mom worried he was becoming anorexic, and pointed him toward the gym.
“After I lost the fat, I wanted to build up the muscle,” Rogers says. He’s now a buffed 149 pounds with a mere 11 percent body fat. He eats eight small meals throughout the day to fuel his workouts and keep burning calories continuously. He is philosophical about his motivation.
“Looking better is one thing, but the feeling you get from accomplishing something like this, knowing that you’re on the right track, every day that you wake up, every healthy meal that you put in, it’s priceless.”
Insurance company executive, Delray Beach
Original weight: 305
Current weight: 255
Words of wisdom: Set a goal, and stop eating for sport.
“I like to call it a consumption awareness program,” says 42-year-old Dan Castrillon, regional manager of the Scirocco Group insurance company in Delray Beach.
He’s talking about the healthy food choices he learned to make as a participant in last year’s “Your Best Fit” weight loss challenge. He lost 31 pounds during the competition and subsequently took off another 19 pounds by applying what he learned.
“I basically stopped eating for sport,” Castrillon says. “If we had pizza for dinner as a family, I would sit down and eat a pizza — you know, a large pizza all by myself. And I would have three or four beers with it. So it got to a point where I said, that’s just ridiculous. Now I’ll have maybe three slices of pizza, and I stopped drinking beer entirely. I switched my drink of choice to vodka and soda.”
Before his weight loss, Castrillon had achy knees, got winded climbing a flight of stairs, experienced fitful sleep, wore 44-inch waist pants, and worried about keeping up with his 4-year-old son. Today he runs two or three times a week, has more energy, wears a 38-inch waist, and his knees no longer hurt.
“Set a goal,” he advises. “You’ve got to know where you’re going in order to get there.”
Taryn Shea Loughran, South Palm Beach
When Taryn Shea Loughran received a photo of herself from a friend a few years back, it just didn’t register.
“I’m thinking, why is this woman wearing a bikini? It’s way too small for her,” Loughran said. “Then it struck me: that was me. I couldn’t believe how much I had let myself go.”
A former high school athlete, Loughran decided then and there to lose weight and shape up. She gradually left her diet of Kraft macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and cinnamon buns behind to construct her own “clean eating” program of whole grains, lean chicken and fish, along with superfoods such as asparagus, grapefruit and blueberries.
She joined the YMCA and began working out. In four years’ she lost 50 pounds, sculpting her body in the process to become a fitness competitor and model. Now 27, her muscular physique appears in the same magazines she used for inspiration when her weight loss journey began.
Loughran stresses the slow, steady approach. After all, she didn’t go from a size 14 to a size 2 overnight. As a fitness coach herself at The Gym in Manalapan, Loughran enjoys motivating others.
“If you watch what you eat, do cardio workouts and resistance training, that’s the triple threat,” she says. “That’s going to get you into your dream body.
Paula Detwiller is a freelance writer and lifelong fitness junkie. Find her at www.pdwrites.com.