Before: 260 pounds
After: 164 pounds
For Edward Cooper, 44, his issues with food started as a child. He remembers as an 8-year-old his father telling him that he had to finish his whole plate of food—or risk punishment. “My parents were big into going out to restaurants and my dad taught us to finish our entire plate, so the lifestyle was set at a very young age,” Edward says.
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Food became a crutch for him to deal with emotional problems. “I was teased frequently as a child for being overweight, which caused me to eat even more out of sadness and humiliation,” he says.
Throughout high school Edward tried a number of diets: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Optifast, Atkins—even the juice and cabbage diet. (Search: Is the cabbage soup diet safe?) It wasn’t that he wasn’t successful—Edward would always lose weight. Problem was he’d gain it right back.
“Whenever I’d lose 30 pounds, I’d gain 40 pounds back right away. I was roller coaster dieting, and I really couldn’t understand what was happening to me,” he says.
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The Turning Point
Three years ago, Edward reached the end of his rope. He realized that in order to finally lose the weight for good, he needed to understand why he put it on in the first place. “I had to do some soul-searching,” Edward says. “I found out I have a compulsion for food, and I more than just love food—I’m addicted to it.”
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Once Edward was able to acknowledge that food was an addiction, he was able to devise a plan tailor-made to work for him. Because his family doesn’t really cook—they eat out at least one meal a day—he focused on making smarter choices at restaurants. Knowing that he’s likely to choose poorly when caught off guard, he looks up the menu ahead of time and comes to a restaurant knowing exactly what he’ll order. (Pick up a copy of Eat This, Not That! and make the smartest choices on the menu.)
“There are so many choices out there. If I don’t do the research ahead of time and instead order on a whim, I’m likely to get caught,” Edward says. “Now I never walk into a restaurant not knowing what I’ll eat.”
He also identified which foods trigger overeating. Sugars and fried foods make him more likely to binge, so he cut them out of his diet. In general, Edward watches his salt intake and tries to keep his calories to about 2,500 a day.
As for exercise, Edward is preparing to walk his first half-marathon. To train, he walks three or four times a week. (Video: Improve your running form and technique)
Edward’s father died of a heart attack at the age of 57 while on a morning jog, and Edward wants to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to him.
“I want to be in the best health for my kids. I’m getting up to around the age he was, so I want to make sure I’m healthy,” Edward says.
Running a half-marathon is particularly symbolic for him. “My dad always wanted to do a marathon and he never got to. Doing this half-marathon is a personal goal for me to show my dad I can do it.”
Edward loves the way he looks and feels. One of the best incidents that happened to him was when a friend he hadn’t seen in years asked if he had an overweight brother named Ed. “It took me awhile to convince her it was me,” he says.
Friends and family members are constantly asking Edward for advice, so he started his own website called Edthewellnesscoach.com. Online, he shares his story and motivates others to reach their weight loss goals.
“I enjoy talking to people about weight loss and swapping stories,” he says. “Helping others lose weight is very motivating to me to keep going,” he says.
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Do some soul-searching. “Find out how you got overweight. Then research and figure out how you’re going to keep it off. You have to do the research and fit the diet into your lifestyle instead of the other way around.”
Healthy Weight Loss Success Story: Edward Cooper
He Created a Custom Diet and Dropped 96 Pounds
Image: Courtesy of Edward Cooper
Before: 260 pounds