Before: 222 pounds
After: 172 pounds
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Growing up, Brian Cunningham’s single mother often had to serve whatever was the quickest and cheapest to make, which amounted to a lot of chicken fingers and French fries. “I always ate way too much,” says Brian. “I came from an Italian family and was always told to eat more.” Brian continued gorging on fast food and other junk as an adult, and his weight peaked at 222 pounds.
The Turning Point
Brian’s family invited a close friend to stay at their house while recovering from a weight-related surgery. Just three days later, she died from a blood clot under their roof. “Her death was completely unnecessary,” says Brian, blaming his friend’s weight for the tragedy. (Search: When is your weight dangerous to your health?) Confronted with the implications of his own girth, Brian spiraled into a depression, but did nothing to fix his diet.
Several months later, Brian read an advertisement for a boot camp in a video shown at church. Taking it as a sign, he decided to enroll immediately.
The boot camp met every Saturday for eight weeks and consisted of a mix of cardio and weight training. On the weekdays, Brian and his classmates stuck to a home exercise plan and a low-carb diet. He ate six to eight times a day, stocking up on lean proteins, complex carbs, and veggies. The transition was difficult. Eating clean proved more expensive and time-consuming. (If making over your diet sound too difficult, try this fast way to prepare a healthy breakfast.)
Brian shed 30 pounds and won the camp’s weight-loss competition. The prize: another boot camp, free personal training sessions, and a trip to the grocery store with the camp’s instructor to learn about nutrition. Now, Brian stays in shape by running, biking, canoeing, kickboxing, and more.
The support Brian found at boot camp helped him stay on track. “Being involved with a group helped my success,” says Brian, who just completed his fourth boot camp. “It makes exercise more enjoyable and keeps me accountable.” (Stay even more accountable by logging your meals and workouts with our Fit Tracker tool.)
“I realized that when I was overweight, my smile was not really a smile,” says Brian. “But now I’m truly happy.” He has renewed energy, and feels like his coworkers and family respect him more. “My kids used to laugh at me. I was the fat dad,” he says. “Now I coach their soccer team and am in better shape than them. It’s a good feeling to know just how far I’ve come.”
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Go as a group. “I’d encourage people to join a boot camp or group activity. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and be accountable for your results.”
Start in the morning. “If you try to work out in the afternoon, something else will come up. If I get up a little early, I can get my workout done and then don’t have to worry about fitting it in later.”
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