Real life weight loss: "My son helped me lose 200lbs, not counting my excess skin"

Cristina McClaren lost 200lbs over four years with the help of her son, after a single boot camp session changed everything

Real life weight loss
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A mother who once weighed 380lbs credits her son for helping her lose 200lbs in four years. Cristina McClaren, 39, from Arizona, turned to food for comfort when growing up to help her deal with her mother’s substance abuse problems. 

At her heaviest, Cristina weighed 380lbs and was left feeling humiliated when she was unable to run around a soccer field at a fitness bootcamp. She decided there and then she needed to change her ways for herself and for her teenage son, Jeremiah. Cristina told Truly: “I didn’t feel like I was being the best parent that I could be, looking back it’s an embarrassment.” 

In 2014, Cristina embarked upon a fitness journey and over the course of four years she managed to lose 200lbs. At the beginning of her journey, Cristina thought: “I’m either going to be 600lbs or I can stop and at least get down to 200lbs.” 

However, the journey has not just been about the physical for Cristina, but it has helped her mentally too. “I needed to lose weight and have confidence,” she explained. “When I was heavy I was guarded and didn’t want people to look at me.” Cristina credits her son for helping her with the journey and believes she’s a much better parent since losing the weight. 

The pair keep an active lifestyle together, whether it’s Jeremiah joining her at the gym or the pair paddleboarding on the weekend. Cristina now feels like a totally different person and loves the way she looks: “I feel like I can take on anything.”

Paddleboarding, which focuses on keeping your arms and core steady, is a fantastic low-intensity, all-over workout, great for those searching how to lose weight on your arms. It's also great for supressing production of the stress hormone cortisol, which raises your glucose levels and appetite, by getting you out into nature, a large body of water, and away from the screens. 

Real life weight loss

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In addition, Cristina uses heavy weights in the gym, such as the best adjustable dumbbells. At first glance, most people assume the best exercises for weight loss are all cardiovascular aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling and HIIT workouts. However, lifting heavy weights builds muscle, which makes us fitter and stronger, in addition to raising our metabolic rate. 

This causes us to burn calories at an accelerated rate, burning fat and building muscle at the same time. It's all about weight and size: the stronger we are, the more capable we are to lift our own weight, jump higher, and run faster. As our muscle mass decreases as we age, leaving us weak, lifting weights protects our bodies from this process. 

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. 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.