Losing weight is hard graft. You're trying to change a lifetime's habit, shift unwanted pounds, get in better shape and avoid cheap, unhealthy food while being bombarded with artificial stimulation and junk food advertising that makes grabbing a donut much easier than cooking healthy. Research found between 2013–2016, a huge 49.1% of U.S. adults tried to lose weight, according to the National Centre for Health Statistics (opens in new tab).
However, it can be done, and done sustainably. We've seen a plethora of real life body transformations through our sibling YouTube channel Truly (opens in new tab) and their Brand New Me series. We've picked three of our favourites – each person on the list having lost over 100lbs – and dived in to discover their best-kept weight loss secrets to a sustainable healthy lifestyle.
Weight loss transformation #1: Darnell Settles
Darnell Settles, a 38-year-old man from Memphis Tennessee, lost a staggering 260lbs – almost half his body weight, as he once weighed in at 560lbs. As a binge-eater and someone with a sedentary lifestyle, Darnell was eating himself into an early grave, snacking on whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and always to excess.
"Now, when I wake up, and I'm in this body, it's like a dream come true," said Darnell. "I don't think my loose skin affects my confidence – I'm proud of the way I look."
Darnell began a low-carbohydrate diet to lose weight, going through his store cupboards and throwing out everything that didn't meet his new requirements, and keeping track carefully of what he ate and when.
Research shows keeping a food diary can increase your weight loss progress by more than 100%. The modern day equivalent of a pen and paper logbook is recording it on an app, such as Fitbit Premium. Combined with your fitness tracker's data, it can build a complete picture of health using your eating, sleeping, stress and activity patterns. Check out our Best Fitbit guide to get started.
Weight loss transformation #2: Kevin Creekman
Hailing from Germany, Kevin Creekman was a 335lbs compulsive World of Warcraft player for many years, who subsisted on a diet of junk food while his whole life revolved around the video game. At 18 years old, Kevin began to change his habits, losing a staggering 180lbs. After his dramatic weight loss, he began to build his body back up the right way, with weight training, to begin to fill his loose skin
"I finally feel free in my skin. I used to be ashamed to show my body," said Creekman. 13 years later, he's now got 1.1 million followers on Instagram and works as a tattooed model.
Muscle is key to a healthy body. Building muscle changes your body composition, the ratio of fat-to-bone-to-muscle that indicates a healthy, fit physique. Muscle cells require lots of oxygen to maintain and lifting weights raises your metabolic rate, according to research (opens in new tab). Focusing on building muscle also encourages you to eat a high-protein diet, keeping you feeling fuller for longer – check out our best protein powder for weight loss guide for more details.
Weight loss transformation #3: Alexa
Young mum Alexa, hailing from Texas, has undergone a dramatic weight loss of over 100lbs. She's done it slowly and sustainably over the course of seven years, building up her calorie expenditure and staying consistent to ensure the weight doesn't return. Research from Iran (opens in new tab) found body composition tends to be better following a slow weight loss than it does during a rapid weight loss.
Alexa initially began walking thirty minutes a day to help her lose weight. Walking to lose weight is easy, low-intensity exercise which is easy to fit into your day. Whether you circle the block and take the stairs rather than the lift at the end, or you go tramping across the countryside, it's a great starting point to build from.
Alexa then began utilising the walk/run technique to get herself into running shortening her amount of walking time and lengthening the running time until she's able to run non-stop.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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