Louis W. Cardello, 41, Dunedin
HEIGHT: 6 feet
STARTING WEIGHT: 303
CURRENT WEIGHT: 206
WHY I DID IT: I was an overweight child who grew up to be an overweight teenager and then a morbidly obese unhappy adult.
In the summer of 2008, I weighed more than 300 pounds. I couldn't even walk up a flight of stairs without perspiring profusely. The sheer embarrassment of struggling to breathe and having to continually wipe my brow with a handkerchief had become my daily life. I had reached a point of humiliation and shame that made me want a change. I didn't know how or where to start, but I knew I needed help.
I was working in the financial industry at the time, and a personal trainer came to speak about health and fitness to a networking group I was in. As he spoke, I started to daydream about changing my life, and I wondered if I could take back my health from being obese. I felt humiliated about how far I had let myself go. I could not deal with it anymore. I made an appointment that day with the trainer for a complete body analysis. It was critical that I understand how far I had let myself go so that I could focus on the transformation. He confirmed my worst fears: I was morbidly obese – more than 100 pounds overweight and more than 30 percent body fat.
HOW I DID IT: I started my workout and dieting with a trainer, but I quickly discovered that I needed to learn how to diet and exercise on my own. I knew I had to make it a way of life. I started slowly working out at a local gym and cutting back on food. I had made very good progress and lost 50 pounds, but then I hit a plateau. I had maintained my loss but really wanted more, and in March 2010, I decided to train with a plan and really drive results. I set goals that I could attain, and even though they took more time, I achieved all of the goals I set for myself.
I read every article I could find on fitness and health and developed a plan for myself that I could follow. I never followed a strict diet, but I limited the amount of food I ate and I ate more meals per day to curb my appetite. I ate a lot of fruits and vegetables as snacks. I always carried raisins and almonds for in between meals. Most importantly, I tried to plan my meals out in advance. I lost another 30 pounds over the next year, and in the spring of 2011, a friend encouraged me to do the Dunedin Triathlon as a 40th birthday challenge. I accepted the challenge and became laser focused. I had never pushed myself physically to this point. My goal was to compete and finish, and I did just that.
HURDLES: The greatest hurdle for me was changing my mindset about physical exercise and pushing myself past the point when I wanted to quit. I really tried and continue to try to set goals and make every workout count.
Another major hurdle was family and friends who didn't understand my goal. I often found myself having to explain why I wasn't eating the same things or drinking alcohol when I went out with friends. Temptation is everywhere, and it is especially difficult around the holidays and being Italian. I had meals ready and would only allow myself a limited treat here and there. I still kept my end goal in mind.
GOING THE DISTANCE: I reached my goal of losing 100 pounds and finishing my first triathlon in March 2011. It took me a total of three years to lose all the weight I wanted. Looking at the scale and seeing 201 pounds was the reward for all my hard work. During the last mile of the triathlon, I savored the thought of all the things I couldn't do in the past and was now able to do. I felt like I had regained control of my life and control over my weight.
1. Set attainable goals.
2. Push yourself to accomplish something you thought you could never do.
3. Eat things you like and limit the portions. If you always eat seconds, take half the amount you normally would with your first helping; your mind will still think you're taking seconds even though it's the same amount of food.