Name: Jim F.
LIVESTRONG.COM Username: macmanjimmy (member since: 2013)
Age: 47 Height: 6 feet 1 inch
BEFORE Weight: 585 pounds Pant Size: 66
AFTER Weight: 289 pounds (and still losing) Pant Size: 46
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Jim: I joined LIVESTRONG.COM after the birth of my niece, Keira Noel. Before that I was a pack-a-day smoker and struggled with depression and anxiety issues. It was an endless cycle. I hated myself because I was so fat, and no woman would date me because I was so overweight. The only thing that seemed to bring comfort and relief was food. The more I ate, the “better” I felt (but also the more weight I gained). And the more my weight increased, the more depressed and sad I felt.
My diet was horrible. In one sitting I might eat a foot-long sub sandwich, a large pizza, four bean burritos, three soft tacos, etc.
As a result of my weight I have degenerative osteoarthritis in both knees and bursitis in my right shoulder, which greatly limited my ability to exercise. My overall health was poor. I struggled with asthma and COPD as a result of smoking, and I had sleep apnea.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration for making a change?
Jim: Honestly, my inspiration for making a change was the birth of my niece, Keira Noel. The moment I looked into her eyes she stole my heart completely. I quit smoking “cold turkey” that same day and haven’t had one cigarette since.
Her birth also made me recognize the real possibility that I could be 600 pounds at 60 years old (if I lived that long) at her wedding someday. That possibility really upset me, and that is when I decided to make a change in both myself and in my life — not only for myself, but also for Keira. After my brother, William, she is the greatest thing that has happened in my life. Every pound I lose I dedicate to her and love her for it.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
Jim: With the help of LIVESTRONG.COM’s MyPlate Calorie Tracker I was able to track my calories and also my fat and carb intake. After losing the first 100 pounds tracking calories on MyPlate I underwent vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery. Since my gastric sleeve surgery I’ve lost an additional 214 pounds, and I’m not finished yet.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
Jim: My family and Facebook friends are my primary support system.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your favorite way to work out?
Jim: Because of the poor condition of my knees, my options are limited. Unfortunately, there are no swimming pools in my area, so recumbent bicycling is the only way I’m able to exercise currently.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your weekly exercise schedule?
Jim: I work out twice a day on the recumbent bike with the tension set to maximum. I ride at five miles per hour and ramp it up to six miles per hour for the last minute of each segment.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s a typical day of meals and snacks?
Jim: Breakfast is a protein shake. My morning snack is one serving of peanuts. For lunch I have celery with fat-free ranch dressing and one serving of fat-free pretzels. My afternoon snack is Greek yogurt and a banana. For dinner I eat a salad with fat-free ranch dressing and one serving of fat-free pretzels. The evening snack is a protein bar and a banana.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s the range of calories you eat per day?
Jim: I aim for about 1,200 calories per day.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
Jim: I always have carrots, a variety of lettuce options, bananas and apples in my kitchen.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
Jim: I do a lot of slow-cooking and grilling. I prepare chicken breast ahead of time for salads and future meals, and then I freeze it for fast convenience later. I avoid red meat. I wash and chop vegetables, such as celery and lettuce, in advance for meals during the week.
LIVESTRONG.COM: Were there any supplements that you took during your journey?
Jim: I took a multivitamin, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, biotin, magnesium and iron.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s the biggest challenge you faced?
Jim: My biggest challenge was family meals when they’d serve smoked brisket and potato casserole. I would eat broccoli and fat-free ranch dressing instead.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
Jim: My best advice is to make sure you have a strong support system in place during your journey. It’s also important to be disciplined and to have a goal in mind that you’re working toward.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What’s your life like now?
Jim: My self-esteem and confidence have greatly improved, and my depression has also lessened greatly. I still use the MyPlate Calorie Tracker to track my calories and workouts as well as my weight-loss results. As a result of my weight loss, I’m now ready for bilateral knee-replacement surgery. I’m also hopeful that I’ll find someone to help me with excess skin removal surgery in the future, since I’m unable to afford it because I’m on disability.
Ann Rusnak is LIVESTRONG's Sr. Community Manager. Her quest to lose the baby weight before the baby finished elementary school sparked an interest in health and fitness that continues to be a passion to this day. She loves hiking and yoga, and thinks the best exercise is one you can do with a good friend. Over the years, Ann's desire to fit into a certain size has evolved into what she feels is the more important goal of feeling good and having energy to live life to its fullest.