To cope with the pain, Atkin increasingly turned to her fridge.
“The day he left I thought my world had ended – I cried for weeks and used food as my comfort”
– Jen Atkin
From couch to crown
Then, one day, Atkin decided to end her pity-party and get to work.
She started walking regularly, going to the gym and being vigilant about what she ate.
As the pounds dropped, her confidence soared. Atkin quickly gained momentum and over two years, she shed 112 pounds – half of her body weight!
Eventually, she built up the courage and charisma to enter the Miss Great Britain competition, the UK’s longest-running pageant.
The event consists of several rounds including fashion wear, evening wear, and swimsuit and culminates in a panel interview.
After finishing the contest as a runner-up, Atkin put her pageant pursuits aside to focus on herself until her name was put forward again.
She ended up winning Britain’s biggest beauty crown over 59 other contestants in the national final in Leicester.
For Atkin, the victory meant far more than a crown.
“Winning Miss Great Britain marks the end of a long and difficult, but also amazing, journey”
– Jen Atkin
There’s beauty in the struggle
Since winning the pageant, Atkin has only picked up the pace.
She launched a country singing career, with her debut single hitting No. 2 in the ReverbNation charts.
She’s also using her status to push for “clearer and easier” labeling on food to warn people if an item is unhealthy, which she says will “make it easier for everyone.”
Atkins now reflects on her difficult journey with gratitude.
“I was devastated but it ended up being the best thing that’s happened to me”
– Jen Atkin
While Atkin had painful experiences, they ultimately revealed what she’s truly capable of and her true worth. She used them to take her life in an amazing direction that even she didn’t know was possible.
Today, you can bet her shallow ex is probably sore from kicking himself.
The next time you feel like giving up, remember that your best is yet to come.
As a child, John couldn’t train because of his asthma
Soon after he was born, John developed severe asthma and allergies for which he started being treated for at the age of two.
As a kid, he spent several Halloween nights at the hospital and his condition prevented him from participating in physical activity.
“I was constantly bullied from a young age until I graduated high school. I couldn’t walk around school because of my weight,” John remembered.
I had to be given a key to the elevator in school because I couldn’t walk up and down the stairs, and I had to write book reports instead of participating in gym class.
John struggled with low self-esteem and hated the way he looked and felt. His weight stopped him from going to college after his high school graduation, because he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get around campus or fit behind the desks.
But then, he had a major wake-up call
After his grandmother passed away in early 2015, John fell into a deep depression and coped with food and drinking, but that all changed when he had a massive asthma attack he almost didn’t survive.
“I couldn’t take a breath, it was like every bit of air was trapped inside my lungs while the weight of the whole world rested upon my chest,” remembered John.
I couldn’t speak, sweat started to pour from every part of my body. Somehow I was able to scream for my parents to call an ambulance.
Paramedics apologized to John while they put him on a stretcher, just as slipped in and out of consciousness.
“I remember looking at the clock above the door of the ambulance and praying to God and to my grandmother who had recently passed that February for another chance. I knew I had messed up,” he said.
He took his second chance seriously
Once he regained consciousness, he knew he was running out of options and committed to changing his ways.
My life was spared so it was time to make those changes I promised.
As soon as he could, John started going to the gym regularly and was able to lose 80 pounds, but his asthma kept getting in the way of his progress and he went back on steroids after another attack.
When he realized he wouldn’t be able to lose all the weight he wanted to on his own, John made the life-changing decision to undergo gastric sleeve surgery, in November 2016.
The surgery helped him drop down to 252 pounds from his initial 500 and John’s learned not to take life for granted.
The best part? How he feels about himself
“I am a totally different person now, I love life, I love challenges and I love proving myself and other people wrong and rewriting my life story,” he said.
“My health has improved dramatically, I no longer have high blood pressure or sleep apnoea, and my asthma is pretty much non-existent.”
His transformation journey has allowed him to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a professional wrestler and has since performed in several shows, calling the experience “the thrill of his life.”
He’s documented his journey on instagram to keep himself accountable along the way, but also uses his platform to inspire others who are struggling to lose weight.
“Honestly it’s the greatest feeling in the world being able to inspire others because I know when I was at my lowest, I needed someone like my current self to guide me, to show me things were possible when I didn’t think they were,” said John.
“’My major goal in life is to help show everyone that the ‘impossible’ doesn’t exist, and you can truly have anything you want in life and pursue every single dream and break every goal, that’s the only thing that matters to me.”
At 350 pounds, Luis Trigo gave up his job to focus on his health, after he could no longer work.
“I couldn’t even stand at work. My job was in warehousing and I could barely handle it within a couple of hours. I was constantly sluggish and tired,” he told the Steel Shredded Podcast.
Around the same time, his long-term relationship ended, sending him spiralling downward into depression and led him to gain an extra 50 pounds, in just two months.
Worrying symptoms were a wake-up call
It wasn’t until he began experiencing heart palpitations and was rushed to the hospital, that he got the ultimate wakeup call.
Before then, his diet consisted of whatever was cheap and convenient – mainly sugary drinks, fast food and alcohol. In hindsight, he recognizes his bad habits at the time were his way of coping with negative emotions.
Obese since high school, Luis said his weight got out of control once he started college, and later entered the workforce.
I didn’t pay attention to my nutrition because I was paying attention to my grades. I didn’t pay attention to my health, before I knew it, I was in the 300s.
But that all changed when he was wheeled into the ER
Luis was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and after ordering an EKG and ultrasounds, the doctor told him:
If you don’t change now, you’re gonna die. You’re 24 years old and you’re 400 pounds.
It was April 2011, and he decided to start his weight loss journey right then and there.
“I gave up all fast food, and then I cut out processed carbs such as bread, pasta, and rice. I also quit sugar from non fruit sources like soda and fruit juices,” Luis said.
Exercising was challenging at first because he was so out of shape, but he was determined not to give up, so he started slow.
“My exercise at first was very humbling. Basically I walked up and down the hill by my house because that’s all I could really handle,” he said.
I barely could even get to a mile of exercise. At first it was just a very slow, steady journey.
Patience was the hardest part
Once walking around his neighborhood became easy, Luis got a gym membership and eventually fell in love with endurance workouts.
His transformation journey came with setbacks, including some weight loss plateaus, which he taught himself to overcome.
It was just learning to accept that I needed to be patient. That was the biggest hurdle.
Now that he was focused on reaching his full potential, Luis practiced being more patient and continued to show up for himself.
After losing his first 100 pounds though, he realized he still had a long way to go, and it was difficult to accept at first.
“I was so happy but then I looked in the mirror and I got really sad. I was really upset because it was like, ‘man, I can’t believe I gained so much weight to the point that losing 100 pounds didn’t do anything,”” said Luis.
It took 3 and a half years, but he persevered until he was down to 180 pounds, and today he is a personal trainer.
Watch this Goalcast video for an instant boost of epic motivation:
Mindset is everything
Luis’ transformation journey has taught him that mindset is key when it comes to successful weight loss, and it’s a lesson he shares with his clients.
The game is 90 percent mental. If you can get your mind in the right focus, you can accomplish anything you want.
Christina Phillips weighed 708 pounds and hadn’t left her house in two years before she decided to regain control of her life.
“Before I couldn’t walk eight feet without feeling like I was gonna die. Now, I could do just about anything I put my mind to,” she told People.
Christina was 22 when she first appeared on My 600-Lb Life, and had become completely dependent on her family and husband Zach to help meet her most basic needs.
On the show, Dr. Nowzaradan prescribed Christina a strict diet plan and recommended exercise, before she could qualify for gastric bypass surgery.
By the time Christina was 12 years old, she weighed 286 pounds
Growing up, Christina witnessed her parents arguing all the time, and turned to food to cope. By the time she was 12 years old, she weighed 286 pounds.
By the time she signed up for the popular TLC program, Christina was bedridden and unable to care for herself, so when she lost enough weight to be approved for the life-saving surgery, she became empowered.
As she continued to make progress, Christina realized her husband was threatened with her newfound independence and that he’d been enabling her throughout their marriage.
I was in a really abusive relationship. And that definitely, I think, has had a negative impact on me. It hurt. In my heart, in my head.
So Christina decided to divorce Zach, who had become unsupportive of her happiness and transformation.
Despite the heartbreak, she went on with the surgery and lost 525 pounds, but instead of celebrating her hard earned success, she began to struggle with her body image.
She needed to adjust to her new reality
“Lately any time I see the scale go up, I tend to freak out and I stop eating for a couple days,” she admitted on an episode of My 600-lb Life: Where Are They Now?
At this point, Christina was ready to go under the knife again, to remove excess skin but her doctor recommended she consult with a therapist to address her fears, instead.
He thought she was being too hard on herself.
I know I’m not 700 lbs. anymore, but I still feel that way. And I don’t know how to change how I feel.
After putting on extra pounds to be eligible for the procedure, Christina eventually got the surgery and was down to 172 pounds.
Christina wasn’t at the end of her challenges
“When I was 700 lbs., I felt worthless, and like I didn’t deserve anything better than the life I had. And now my fear of gaining weight has crippled me. But I have to move past that fear if I want to live my life,” she said.
Her fear of gaining weight led to her developing an eating disorder, but she’s been able to work through her demons and has recently completed her second 5K run.
This Goalcast video will give you pure, unbridled inspiration:
Despite being met with obstacles throughout her transformation journey, Christina has been determined to maintain her physical and mental well-being, and looks forward to the little things now.
“The simple things in life are enjoyable to me. I know that seems silly but it’s the honest answer,” Christina said. “Just walking and being able to go to the park with my nephew. [It’s] the most simple thing like taking him to the park or going shopping or driving.”
“I’m so much more happier now. Being able to wake up in the morning and get out of bed without feeling like I’m gonna die, I thank God every morning for that,” she continued.
I am so blessed to have a second chance at life.
Take every win as evidence that you can do it again
Going from 700 lbs. to a healthy weight was not a straight journey for Christina. Along the way, she realized there were other obstacles that needed to be dealt with too.
It is important to be aware that there will always be setbacks along the way to your objective but every time you overcome an obstacle, you gain the knowledge that you’ll be able to do it again.
After being forced to buy two seats on a plane because of his size, Dr. Ross Gardner knew it was time to completely transform his life.
At 28, Ross, from Florida, weighed nearly 400 pounds and doctors gave him less than three years to live.
“Needless to say, these two events really made me rethink how I was living my life,” he told Men’s Health.
Graduation changed his life…not for the best
Following his college graduation in 2000, Ross went on to gain over 200 pounds over the next few years, which he now recognizes happened because of his unhealthy habits at the time, which included daily McDonalds.
Another major obstacle for me starting to lose weight was alcohol. I drank excessively every day for years.
Ross remembered there came a point where he drank almost a liter of whisky each night.
“I was drinking and eating close to 15,000 calories a night,” he admitted.
His diet became out of control, and like many, Ross thought his only way out was a crash weight loss plan, but to overhaul his unhealthy lifestyle, he needed more.
“At that point in my life, the only diet I had ever known was the Atkins diet,” he said.
He couldn’t train for more than 5 minutes at a time
Gardner decided to take another route though, and began educating himself on proper forms of exercise and nutrition.
He ditched his beloved daily McDonald’s breakfasts and replaced them with white omelettes and broccoli, and traded his video game addiction for a gym membership, which was no easy feat.
At first, I could only go to the gym for five minutes at a time.
But once the weight started melting off, Ross noticed a shift.
“It really opened my eyes to the true nature of people,” he said. “My experiences certainly lead me to believe that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
Feeling energized and empowered, he persevered and once he’d established a routine, he was eating six to nine times a day, with small meals that averaged 1600 to 2600 calories a day, a tiny fraction of what he was used to eating previously.
Watch this Goalcast video if you need pure, unbridled motivation:
Inner work was also integral to his transformation
Not only did he give up alcohol and junk food, to become a gym aficionado, Gardner also attended behavioral therapy to explore his compulsive eating.
In just 10 months, Ross lost almost 200 pounds and once he reached a healthy weight, he underwent surgery to remove excess skin.
Today, he helps other people with their weight goals through his chiropractic practice and recognizes that it’s not always an easy process.
He keeps pushing through the negative thoughts
But Ross is very candid about the lasting effects of his transformation journey. Yes, he does feel better but he reveals that he still battles with daily struggles.
I still suffer from body image disorder. To clarify, when looking in the mirror I don’t see a morbidly obese person anymore, but certainly I don’t see what others see.
However, he has learned to keep pushing through the negative thinking.
“I still struggle day in and day out with wanting to over-eat. If I do have a bad day or a bad meal I just move onto the next and I don’t beat myself up,” Ross said.
At the end of the day, “We only have one body. It’s very important we treat what we do have with respect.”
Give yourself a chance
Ross’ transformation started with choosing to live. It was a conscious decision that came with a lot of commitment, both physical and mental. And yes, losing the weight is only one facet of the journey–the inner work is just as important.
Whatever you decide to battle in your life, make sure to truly give yourself a chance by avoiding being too harsh on yourself.
For over three decades we’ve been delighted by Shakira dancing and singing and wondering at how she manages to do both at the same time.
Considering the talent and the confidence the Colombian singer shows on stage, can anyone believe that someone would actually claim that they’re responsible for her success?
Well, her ex-boyfriend Antonio de la Rua seemed to think so.
But before getting into this story, let’s see what shaped Shakira as a person and as an artist, and why she’s a winner, with or without help from others.
Shakira is no stranger to tragedy
When Shakira was only two years old, her brother died in a motorcycle accident. Only a few years later, her father’s jewelry business went bankrupt. They lost everything they had.
Soon after that event, the girl was sent to live with her uncle as her parents were devastated and needed some time to come up with a solution to their problem. By the time she got back, everything was different — they no longer had a car and her father was forced to sell even their home furniture in order to pay his debts.
Shakira was too little to understand her parent’s business failure and the fact that they couldn’t afford anymore the nice things she was used to, infuriated her. So her father decided to teach her a few things about gratitude.
He took her to a park where families with children lived in the dirt, hungry and barefoot. She couldn’t believe her eyes, but the images she saw that day taught her a great deal about the value of things and why she should be grateful for what she still had.
I remember my father walking me by a park and watching the street children who lived there. They were my age and their faces didn’t look all that different from mine or my friends’, yet these children truly had nothing.
It was in that moment that getting out of poverty and helping out others became her main goals for the future “She Wolf”.
She was the girl who used to sing like a goat
When Shakira was only eight years old she started writing and composing music. She also loved to dance and soon got the nickname “the belly-dancer girl”. Apparently everyone appreciated her dancing skills, but her voice, not so much.
In fact, her music teacher told her that she cannot sing and she wasn’t allowed to join the school choir. To top it off, her classmates told her that she sang like a goat.
Luckily, her father was there to encourage her and let her know that her voice is amazing. That’s how Shakira’s dream of becoming a singer was resuscitated after everyone around her had almost destroyed it. She embraced her unique voice and after years of hard work, she built an empire on it.
During ten years of her career, the singer collaborated with ex-boyfriend Antonio de la Rua, but pretty soon after they broke up, Shakira decided to also end the collaboration. Of course, de la Rua didn’t take the news very well and decided to sue her, claiming that he was the one responsible for Shakira’s entire success.
But a “She Wolf” knows her worth
According to de la Rua, he and the singer had an “oral agreement” that stated he would manage and promote her career. Once Shakira decided to cut him off, he sued her for $100 million — the amount he believed the star owed him for terminating their partnership.
De la Rua insisted that he created the “Shakira brand”, and while the singer admitted he was one of her numerous advisers, she doesn’t believe he is the one to thank for her success. After all, when they first met, Shakira had already established an international career.
Since there were no written agreements in existence, de la Rua didn’t get a penny as the Court dismissed all of his claims. Now, the star is clearly just as successful as she was while Antonio was “taking care” of her brand.
I have moved on in my life and could not be happier now. I hope this harassment will now come to an end.
She kept her promise. Two years after she released her music album Pies Descalzos (Barefoot, 1995), she created a charitable foundation in Colombia that bears the same name. Along with her career progress, Shakira expanded her foundation to many countries all over the world.
Thousands of the poorest children out there are now receiving nutritious meals, quality education, counseling, and above all, a chance to pull themselves out of toxic environments. All of these, thanks to a little girl that once made a big promise, and did not forget about it.
Shakira has showed us that she has a big heart, but she is not one to mess with. She knows her worth, worked an entire life for her success and won’t let anyone claim ownership of her career, not even someone with whom she spent a decade with.
Inspiring and vibrant, Shakira has already rocked some of the biggest stages around the world. Now in a happy relationship with soccer player Gerard Piqué, with whom she shares two sons, she has long moved on from the shadow of her ex-boyfriend.
Today, on top of having been a performer at the FIFA World Cup in 2010, she has also added Super Bowl performer under her belt. She did not let bad events in her past change her or detract her from her goals, and that is something we can all learn from.
What’s Jennifer Lopez’s secret to success? Hard work. We’ve seen this lady singing, dancing and acting for almost 30 years. She didn’t stop when she was overly criticized and she’s definitely not going to stop now.
We see so many entertainers come and go. In the entertainment industry, if you don’t bring on your best game and keep it at a high level as years go by, you’re doomed to fail. A lot of artists sparkled for a brief moment and then they just disappeared, like they never existed in the first place. One day we’re singing their song, and the next we don’t even remember the artist’s name.
Well, this is certainly not the case with Jennifer Lopez. She started where many others did, people told her to quit, but she’s striven harder than many to prove her worth, and now her efforts are highly rewarded. She went from backup dancer to a Super Bowl performer.
The beginning of a blossoming career
Some people just know what they want to do for a living, but the secret is to stick to your ambitions. Young Jennifer took up dancing and singing lessons ever since she was five years old. She grew up in the Bronx, sharing a bed with her two sisters and her family couldn’t afford to offer her too much.
Jennifer had to take her fate into her own hands.Against all obstacles, she commuted downtown to Manhattan on the 6 train to take dance lessons. She moved out of her family’s apartment, took a job at a law firm while she took dancing jobs at night.
You simply cannot picture J Lo standing in a corner and just singing. No matter how slow the rhythm is, she’ll still find a way to show us her dancing skills. And if the song doesn’t allow it, well… there’s no such thing for Lopez. She’s got the moves for any type of song.
Even though she is a complete artist, most people refer to her as a singer, but her breakthrough was actually as a dancer on the popular Fox comedy television series In Living Color. She was one of the “Fly Girls.”
“There’s tape out there somewhere, for sure.”, J Lo told Jay Leno in 2011.
She was also a backup dancer for New Kids on the Block and Janet Jackson. Anybody would have found the opportunity to work with Janet Jackson a career highlight but it was not enough for Jennifer, who knew she deserved the centerstage.
She was supposed to do the entire tour with Janet Jackson, but instead, she decided to opt out because she knew she could do way better than that. Had she not taken that valiant decision, the world may never have known the Jennifer Lopez that we have today.
Acting and singing
Before she was releasing her own music, Jennifer Lopez portrayed the Latina superstar Selena in the classic biopic. The role was uniquely emotional since Selena had died only two years prior to the film. This musical lead became Lopez’s breakout role and paved her way to a long lasting music career. She seized every opportunity and leveled it up.
My business philosophy is that you have to work harder than everybody else. I always tell my kids and they’re like, ‘Yeah, we know you work hard.’ I’m like, ‘No, it’s not just that I work hard. I put in harder work than everybody else. I work harder and harder and harder and harder. When everybody is sleeping, I’m doing more.’ It’s just a relentless pursuit of creativity.
Her first music album, On the 6 (1999), was a massive success and we really don’t need the charts to prove it. Twenty years later, we still know all the lyrics of If you Had my Love or Waiting for Tonight, and we still dance like crazy on Let’s Get Loud. The album’s success allowed Lopez to evolve into an icon of pop culture in the years after its release.
Lopez also had to overcome discrimination and double standards on her way to stardom. “Very early in my career I dealt with a lot of stuff like that,” she told Variety. “Not getting the passes that men get when they’re misbehaving or doing whatever.”
I was never someone to misbehave, but you’re late and you’re chastised in front of the whole crew and you’re the lead of the movie. The male lead is late and nobody says anything.
Despite Lopez didn’t stop to take a break — she constantly improved and reinvented herself showing us that age is just a number. The woman can sing, dance, act and she’s just as fiery as she was 20 years ago.
How the ‘Google Image Search’ was born
Remember the iconic green chiffon Versace dress Lopez wore to the 2000 Grammy Awards? Probably yes, since she recently wore it again at SNL looking just as gorgeous as she did 20 years ago.
Now, we don’t want to just mention a dress that Jennifer Lopez looked stunning in, since she’s had so many other iconic outfits. But back in 2000, the photograph of her wearing the dress was the look that launched a thousand Google searches. And that, was how Google Image Search was born.
At the time, it was the most popular search query we had ever seen. But we had no surefire way of getting users exactly what they wanted: J.Lo wearing that dress. Google Image Search was born.
While Jennifer is now in a beautiful relationship with Alex Rodriguez, a former professional baseball player and couldn’t be happier, her love life was not always picture perfect.
Back in 1997, Jennifer was married Ojani Noa, a relationship that eventually sent her into a wave of legal troubles. After their divorce, Noa threatened to release a book about their marriage, which would violate their confidentiality agreement. Noa’s actions were vindictive, as he had been fired from the restaurant Lopez owned. Eventually, her lawsuit to counter his actions was successful.
In 1999, she met the rapper Sean Combs, known as by his stage name P Diddy. His association with the rapper inadvertently put her in trouble as the couple was arrested in connection with a shooting that happened in Times Square. While Jennifer was eventually exonerated, having had no connection with the crime, their relationship did not last.
Between Sean Combs and her next, perhaps most memorable to the public, relationship with Ben Affleck, Jennifer was briefly married to a backup dancer named Cris Judd. The marriage did not even last a year before she moved on to the well-known Ben Affleck.
The two were revered as a super couple, being both extremely successful in their respective lanes–she in music, and Ben in the movie world. The word “Bennifer” was popularized and entered into the urban dictionary. But unfortunately, Bennifer was not meant to last and the highly publicized breakup represented Jlo’s first major heartbreak.
I lost my sense of self, questioned if I belonged in this business, thought maybe I did suck at everything. And my relationship self-destructed in front of the entire world. It was a two-year thing for me until I picked myself up again.
She then married her close friend and singer Marc Anthony, with whom she had 2 twins. Once again, her marriage was not meant to last but this time, Jennifer was ready to handle the pressure. She went on to reinvent herself creatively once again, something she has never stopped doing since the inception of her career. This is why she has been a dominant figure in the world of show business
From music icon to judge on American Idol
The singer, who is also an incredible businesswoman, made the decision to become a judge on the incredibly popular show American Idol. She was inspired by every contestant and brought to tears by many of their life stories. But most importantly, she knew she had something to contribute to since music is such a big part of her life. Right now, she is the producer and judge of World of Dance.
Working for free?
It might come as a shock to you that a star like Jennifer Lopez would ever agree to work for free. Yet she did it, and not only once. She believed that taking some career risks might actually help her advance. For Hustlers, Lopez didn’t get paid on the front end for acting in and producing the movie. And now she was just nominated for best supporting female actor for her role in it.
Never accepting to be a backup is the key
If there is one thing we can learn from Jennifer Lopez’ incredible trajectory in her career, it is that one should never settle for the backup role.
You should invest in yourself, believe in your dream and know that hard work and ambition will always take you where you want to be one day. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.
Even if she’s already at the top, Jennifer Lopez never let her career get stale and she’s constantly pushing herself to be the best at whatever she does. From Janet Jackson’s backup dancer, Jennifer is now performing at the Super Bowl, proving that by never accepting second place, we can achieve our wildest dreams.
Molly Carmel struggled with her weight most of her life, and it wasn’t until she started to closely examine her relationship with food that she finally got a handle on the problem.
She tried every exercise program and diet in the books, and even underwent bariatric surgery, but nothing worked for her in the long term.
At only 23, she weighed 325 pounds.
The root of her issue is only too familiar
Molly eventually pinpointed the cause of her unsuccessful efforts to lose weight. “I would turn to sugar — of course I would. It soothed me, it numbed me, it comforted me,” Molly told TODAY.
It was my great love… I thought it was my solution when it was really my problem.
Molly to TODAY
Like many, her unhealthy relationship with food dates back to childhood. She remembers going to the amusement park and running straight for the churros stand, and whenever she went to a friend’s house, the big motivation was eating cookies.
Worried that Carmel was “chunky”, her family put her on a diet when she was only 7, which turned out to be the start of a lifelong cycle of failed weight loss attempts.
It became harder to do perform daily tasks
At her heaviest, Carmel couldn’t tie her shoes and became short of breath after taking just a few steps.
Her weight soon became more than a physical obstacle. Her mental space took a toll, and she felt it too difficult to find the motivation or pleasure in life.
I was hopeless, I stopped seeing my friends, I stopped traveling, I was very reclusive at that time.
That’s when she decided to undergo bariatric surgery. The procedure helped her lose 100 pounds, but it wasn’t the answer to what Carmel described as a deep behavioral and emotional issue. Even after the surgery, she reached back to food for comfort.
She decided to do her own research
Inspired by her brother, who in the late 1990s had given up sweets at a time when low-fat diets were all the craze, Carmel started doing her own research into sugar.
After she realized she had a sugar addiction, she made up her mind drastically and gave it up cold turkey.
Having a track record of failures, she was afraid it would be just another fad diet, but when she started seeing positive results, she persevered.
Carmel avoided sugar for about a year and lost a total of 175 pounds, which she’s been able to keep off for almost a decade.
I don’t think I recognized what a true enemy sugar was. That’s the bait-and-switch that comes with sugar — the short-term. I never recognized that in the long-term, it was incredibly abusive and holding me back from virtually everything I was trying to do.
Today, she’s dedicated to helping others overcome their own battles with emotional eating and food addiction. Having undergone her own battle against it, and beaten it with success, she knows how difficult it can be. But she also knows that it is possible to come out victorious.
Before she went cold turkey…
It may have taken a long time for Molly to identify the real issue behind her inability to lose weight. Therefore, the important thing to do before making any change, whether it is big or not, is to take the time to research and understand the underlying issue.
Molly was able to reach her goal and a healthier lifestyle after taking the time to thoroughly understand what was at the root of her problem. When we want to achieve a goal, however impossible it may seem to us, it is always a good thing to do some introspection.
When we analyze our past, our responses to stimuli and events and what leads us to make certain decisions that do not benefit us, we have a clearer view on the solutions we need to implement.
A self-proclaimed workaholic, Aaron Leupp often worked over a 100 hours per week as he built his career. While he invested all of his time and energy into his work, he neglected his health.
His ran on little sleep and spent most of his time behind a computer. As his weight crept up, he tried fad diets and even went to the gym, but nothing seemed to work.
“I was over 310 pounds,” he told Men’s Health. “And never in my life did I think would ever get that big.”
At first, nothing seemed to work
As Leupp grew tired of feeling rundown and unhealthy, he took to YouTube, podcasts and spent hours researching different approaches to weight loss. However, despite his efforts, nothing stuck.
Not only did he want to feel better, Leupp also wanted to look better, so that he could feel more confident about getting back into the dating scene.
After many failed attempts, he wasn’t ready to give up so he tried again, and decided to drastically scale down his diet.
A motivating habit
Leupp started eating one meal a day, and only after he’d complete his daily workout—a habit he’s been able to maintain and that he says still keeps him motivated.
“Every day I wake up to check my emails to see if there are any fires or urgent matters,” he said. “If not then I go straight to the gym.”
Trust me, you find motivation quick when you’re hungry.
Over the span of one year, Leupp has lost over 100 pounds and has noticed his productivity go up.
“I feel better than I ever have,” he said. “I have way more energy and have more confidence.”
He keeps track of his transformation
He’s been documenting his transformation journey by posting daily accountability photos online, which encourages him to keep going.
He hopes that by sharing his story, he can help inspire others to take action if they’re feeling stuck.
“I will continue to do this until I get fit and then for the rest of my life.”
We can all learn accountability
Aaron’s journey towards a healthier version of himself has taught him the power of accountability. Without it, the achievement of our goals, whether they are health or career related, would take a longer, more rocky trajectory.
Learning to make ourselves accountable means that we will depend on nothing else, no other person, to validate our progress and victories. We can start one step at a time and implement a system where we hold ourselves accountable for small things at first and then applying it to more significant projects.
Once we have mastered the skill of holding ourselves accountable, there is no stopping what we can accomplish.
Justine McCabe was overcome with grief after the passing of her mother and husband in the span of a year. As a result, she turned to food for comfort.
Within just a few months, she had gained 100 pounds. Her friends and family became concerned about her wellbeing after noticing how much weight she had gained. They nagged and pushed her to start exercising.
At her heaviest, the single mom weighed 313 pounds.
A challenge out of spite
Initially, Justine sought therapy to help her process the grief. It was not long before she felt ready to take up her loved ones’ challenge to get back in shape. She went to the gym “out of spite.”
I feel like I look so broken and lost and sad and that’s the reason why I started taking a picture a day. I wanted to see myself change, see if my expression would change.
Justine McCabe to TODAY
She traced her recovery through selfies
And change it did. As Justine became more active and documented her progress at the gym every day, she began to notice changes. Not only was she losing weight but she also realized that exercise was helping her deal with her grief.
“I would use that time to do a lot of thinking,” she said. “I was able to process some of the emotions I was dealing with that I would then go talk about and work through in therapy.”
After losing 124 pounds, she felt like she got a new lease on life. Justine took up new activities like hiking, kayaking, obstacle courses and returned to one of her favorite childhood pastimes, horseback riding.
And developed resilience in the meantime
Justine was fully immersed in enjoying the activities she could not have practiced before, until one day, while she was riding a horse in late 2018, the animal lifted and reared up, sending her straight to the ground.
The impact was so hard, it “blew out” her knee, but she was not prepared to let that get in her way. Despite the injury, she persisted in staying active and continued to push her limits. However, the pain in her knee eventually became unbearable.
“I kept saying, ‘No I’m fine. Keep pushing. This is what I do,’” McCabe explained. “I still wanted to seem like I was the same and I was so great.”
But she was not out of the woods yet
Eventually, she consulted with a doctor and found out that she had torn her meniscus and ACL. Surgery was an option, but still, she resisted.
Instead, McCabe continued with her vigorous workouts. As she “was never really letting [her] body have time to heal and recover,” she was eventually struck down with illness and diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Forced to slow down her pace, she started to zero in on her health and became aware of her limits.
It’s so important to not sit and pretend that we are perfect, that we always have that same motivation and energy because it’s not (sustainable).
Acceptance is the starting point, not the end
“Things in life happen and we have to accept that,” Justine realized. After reaching that acceptance — of the loved ones she lost and of her medical diagnoses — she was able to start over.
Nowadays, Justine focuses on low-impact workouts, maintaining her weight loss and staying healthy.
“It’s hard to make those good, positive choices especially when life is not going exactly as planned,” she said. “Every choice that I ever make it’s always based upon that idea that I’m choosing to live. I’m choosing to live my best life.”
Whatever we go through, acceptance is not the end of hardship. Rather, it is a new beginning, an opportunity to reconfigure our lives so we can start afresh and do things better.