Name: Taylor R.
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LIVESTRONG.COM Username: Cleverjefe (member since 2015)
Age: 35 Height: 5'9"
Before Weight: 316 pounds Pant Size: 48
After Weight: 204 pounds Pant Size: 34
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Taylor: My overall health was very poor. I was a pack-a-day smoker, and most of the food I ate was processed, fried or otherwise bad for me. As a result my cholesterol was high. Outside of work I received little to no exercise. I'm a professional chef, so I am active while at work, but not at a level I would consider to be exercise. I was always disappointed and frustrated with how I looked, and I never really felt confident or happy with myself.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
Taylor: March 13, 2016 became the greatest day of my life when my son, Stephen was born healthy and strong. When I found out I was going to be a father nine months prior I was ecstatic and couldn't contain my joy. Immediately following that feeling was the experience of intense fear that my current lifestyle could result in me not being around for (or able to participate in) my child's life the way I had always dreamed of. This was the moment that I knew my life had to change. The very next day I began training and making adjustments to how I was eating and caring for my health.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
Taylor: I used an app similar to the MyPlate Calorie Tracker and logged all of my food without fail. I also read other people's weight-loss success stories on the LIVESTRONG.COM website, as well as articles on nutrition, fitness and workouts. It took me about nine-and-a-half months to lose the first 100 pounds and an additional two months or so to lose those last stubborn 10 pounds.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
Taylor: My wife, Brittany, has been my biggest supporter. She put up with all of the restrictions I placed on my diet and ate those same meals with me to show her support. She also went with me to the gym during her pregnancy to watch me compete. I could not have come this far in my journey without the support of my family. I joined a local gym, CrossFit Vero Beach, and the community there has also been incredibly supportive and encouraging. They helped push me farther than I thought I ever could, and I've never been happier as a result.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your favorite way to work out?
Taylor: I attend a CrossFit class and participate in the group workout.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
Taylor: I train five to six days a week. I take Sundays off, and if I'm particularly sore I'll sometimes take one additional rest day during the week. I do weight training three or four days a week and cardio on the days I don't lift. I usually have at least three days during the week when I do both cardio and strength training.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
Taylor: I tend to eat three or four times a day, including a snack. I try to eat as clean as possible, which to me means little to no processed foods. Oatmeal, potatoes, rice, whole veggies, whole fruits, lean meats, eggs and fish are my diet staples. I eat the occasional Greek yogurt as a treat, but mostly avoid dairy products. Peanut butter is always a snack, but I try to stick with organic natural peanut butter.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
Taylor: I eat a minimum of 2,000 calories a day and will often end up around 2,500 on a heavy training day.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
Taylor: I always have peanut butter and a variety of fruit. Apples, oranges and bananas are my favorites, and I always have some of those on hand. Perfect Bars are a snack I often have with me when I travel — only 300 calories and completely natural. Chicken is my staple protein. It's the easiest to manipulate and is about as lean as it gets.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
Taylor: I try to have a plan for the day ahead, but I don't typically go much beyond that really. In addition to watching my calories, I also count my macronutrients, so a lot of my meal planning revolves around paying attention to when I need to eat carbs versus when I need to eat protein in order to hit my numbers each day. My daily target is 200 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbohydrates and under 60 grams of fat.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you faced?
Taylor: The dreaded plateau was my biggest challenge. No matter how hard you train or how well you eat, your weight loss eventually stalls (no matter what you try). Usually a small change can get things kick-started again, but it is difficult to stay motivated when nothing is happening. The biggest thing I learned here is to simply keep trying. Even if you get frustrated, gain a little weight back, eat bad for a couple days — just keep on trying. Get up the next day and start again. As long as your good days outnumber your days of misbehaving, you're headed in the right direction.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
Taylor: Nothing worth having is easy, and change is scary. If you can commit to the process and hold yourself accountable, it will work. The changes will become routine. When I don't feel like working out or am tempted to break my diet, I try to remind myself that ultimately it boils down to: "It's me against me, and I never lose."
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
Taylor: My life has drastically changed. I have lost more than 110 pounds, dropped 60 points on my cholesterol, quit smoking and now feel like a positive and healthy role model for my son. I can go to the beach with no shirt on and feel comfortable, and I'm not embarrassed about the way I look in pictures. I still read the articles on LIVESTRONG.COM, everyone needs inspiration, and I often discover helpful tips on nutrition. I still train five or six days a week, and I continue to eat as clean as possible.
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.