Name: Lee M.
LIVESTRONG.COM Username: Lennerd69 (member since 2012)
Age: 33 Height: 5 feet 10 inches
BEFORE Weight: 370 pounds Pant Size: 48-50
AFTER Weight: 235 pounds Pant Size: 38
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Lee: I was always an active person. In school I played football, basketball and threw shot put. A severe back problem crushed my college football dreams, so I turned to food for comfort. Being in college and living away from home, my freshmen 15 quickly turned into 25. I kept telling myself that I was all muscle, since I still worked out religiously five times a week. Unfortunately, my waistline, bigger clothes and the scale told me a different story.
Through my 20s my weight bloomed and maintained at more than 300 pounds. I was in a cycle of self-destruction. My diet was fast food, beer, ribs, entire pizzas and -- my kryptonite -- cookies. I started to battle with bouts of depression because in my mind I still saw the fit, 235-pound guy I was in high school, but the rest of the world saw a dead man walking. This greatly affected my social life. I was always the life of the party, but my dating life was nonexistent.
At around age 25 I started to develop high blood pressure and sleep apnea, and I felt destined to receive the family curse: diabetes. I made several attempts to lose weight with the next great fad diet, but I met with failure each time.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
Lee: My turning point was when I met the most beautiful person in the world, who would eventually become my wife. If it wasn't for her I probably wouldn't be here today. She gave me confidence because she saw me as a sweet, loving and caring person, and not as an obese person. She was able to see me when I felt invisible.
When my wife was pregnant with our son I lost a cousin to a heart attack. He also struggled with weight. When I looked at him in that casket, all I could see was myself. At 370 pounds, my weight was the highest it had ever been. I needed to make a change for myself and, most importantly, for my family.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
Lee: I used a combo of Weight Watchers and LIVESTRONG.COM to get started. Weight Watchers allowed me to still eat what I wanted as long as I stayed within my points, and I utilized the MyPlate Calorie Tracker app to make sure I was staying within my macro goals so that I would lose fat and not lean muscle. This gave me accountability.
LIVESTRONG.COM also helped me find new ways of working out and proper techniques to prevent injuries. For the first time I was working out smart. From day one I began to incorporate cardio with every workout. Even on days that I couldn't fit a workout in, I still found a way to do cardio from articles I researched on LIVESTRONG.COM. I went from dreading cardio to it being all I wanted to do.
I was almost 30, and for the first time in my life I was able to run a mile. Then it was two miles. Finally, my first 5K! The weight began to fall of very quickly, and within 30 days I was already down 30 pounds. My goal was to lose 100 pounds by my 30th birthday, and one week before my birthday (in only eight months) I reached my goal!
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
Lee: My family was my rock during this journey. When I got down and wanted to resort to old habits, they lifted me up. Sometimes I would gain inspiration just by looking at them and telling myself, "I can't let them down." Success was my only option — failure was not!
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your favorite way to work out?
Lee: I like to mix it up and keep my body guessing and myself interested. With cardio, I go between running, stairmaster, elliptical, Tabata workouts or just taking a walk with my family. Free weights are my first love, but from time to time I'll change it up with body-weight exercises or kettlebells.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
Lee: I do cardio and abs Monday through Friday in the morning (alternating between 20 minutes one day and one hour the next). With strength training, each day I hit a different body part. For example, I'll work my chest on Monday and my arms on Tuesday, etc. (and repeat that pattern).
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
Lee: Typically, I eat four to five small meals a day with two snacks. If I'm really having cravings, I'll have an additional snack of 100 calories or less. I stay away from processed food as much as I can -- fresh is better. Protein-wise, I usually eat egg whites, chicken, tilapia, 93 percent or higher lean turkey or whey protein. I have either a fruit or vegetable with every meal. I try to keep my snacks around 150 calories.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
Lee: I try to consume between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day. I'm currently working on getting leaner, so my calorie range is a little lower.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
Lee: I keep protein bars, oatmeal, bananas, granola bars or high-fiber, low-sugar snack bars (like Quest Bars) for when I'm pressed for time or need something light before a workout. In the fridge I always have salad, almond milk, flavored water, Greek yogurt and egg whites.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
Lee: Each Sunday I write down my meals for the week and prepare and portion them in Tupperware containers, which allows me to save time by quickly grabbing what I need for the day before I head out to work. I try to shop on Sundays to get what I need for the week.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you faced?
Lee: My biggest challenge is my sweet tooth, so I look for sugar-free options or recipes that give me the same sweet taste without so many calories. Eating right doesn't mean starving yourself. Don't let food and calories control your life. Moderation is the key.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
Lee: Aim big, but start small. Decide on your ultimate goal, and then break it down into smaller goals. That way you'll stay positive and feel like you're making progress throughout the journey. Also, don't solely rely on the scale. Success isn't always measured in pounds. So what if you didn't lose weight this week. Instead, you may have lost inches around your waist. Or maybe you walked or ran farther than you did yesterday or lifted something this week that you couldn't the week before. Or what if you were finally able to say no to your favorite dessert? Just the simple fact that you gave it your all equals success! Celebrate all of those victories.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
Lee: It's three years later and I have kept the weight off. I have a cheat meal every now and then to keep me honest. I use the LIVESTRONG.COM Calorie Tracker app to track my macros, and I stick to my routine of eating well and working out. Now when I look at myself, not only do I see a hero and a role model, I see a second chance at life!
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.