Name: Aaron P.
LIVESTRONG.COM Username: goshenjoe (member since: 2014)
Age: 45 Height: 6 feet
Before Weight: 350 pounds Pant Size: 48
After Weight: 239 pounds (and still dropping) Pant Size: 38
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your life like before joining LIVESTRONG.COM?
Aaron: I joined LIVESTRONG.COM before I really committed to it. Some guys at work were talking about it, and I created an account. I knew I needed to make a change. I weighed 350 pounds, but I always had an excuse for why I would start "tomorrow." The problem was that tomorrow was always just around the corner (along with the real commitment needed to lose weight).
I have many good reasons to lose weight — most importantly, my wonderful wife and three beautiful daughters. I often wondered how long I would have with them if I did not change, and I wanted to change for them, but I could never get beyond my excuses. My diet didn't help: I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Physically, I felt terrible. I was not active and had a hard time getting around. It has only been since I lost weight that I've realized how much the extra pounds were literally holding me back.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your inspiration to make a change?
Aaron: My turning point was in December of 2014. My parents (who live several states away) came for a visit. They told me they had made some changes to the way they were eating. I was amazed at the transformation when they arrived! They had lost dozens of pounds each. They shared how they had changed their eating habits and were using the MyPlate Calorie Tracker to track their eating.
We spent some time looking at family photos during their visit, and I was devastated at the comparison of one of myself in college (and at a healthy weight) 25 years ago, and a more recent photo at my heaviest weight. I had struggled with my weight when I was a kid, and I lost nearly 80 pounds between graduating high school and my freshman year in college. Seeing the two photos side by side really drove home how far I had fallen. I had gained all that weight back — plus much, much more. I realized then that I had to make a change. When I went to sign up for an account at LIVESTRONG.COM I discovered the one I created and forgot about the previous year. That's when I really decided that I needed to change my life, and I decided I needed to do it for myself.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How did LIVESTRONG.COM help you lose weight?
Aaron: Staying on top of how many calories I ate was vital for getting my weight under control. LIVESTRONG.COM's MyPlate Calorie Tracker has helped me with that immeasurably. When I lost weight before when I was younger, I did so by tracking my calories in a notebook. With how busy life is now, I could never start that discipline again. LIVESTRONG.COM made tracking calories easy by making it available online and as an app on my phone.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What was your support system like?
Aaron: My wife and I decided that we needed to do this as a team. She joined in, using a different app for tracking her calories: But we were nonetheless in it together. That togetherness really helped with getting started and staying on track for the long term. We gave each other permission to ask about what we were eating and to hold each other accountable. My parents, who started me on this path, were also very supportive. They set my wife and I up with a smoothie maker and a food scale to measure our portions.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your favorite way to work out?
Aaron: Right now my favorite workouts are swimming and walking, but I love running. I ran a 5K a few years ago, and want to get back into it.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
Aaron: My workout schedule is intermittent right now, so I don't have a specific schedule I follow. I am working on being more consistent.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
Aaron: I usually eat six times a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner, with small snacks between meals and a Weight Watchers dessert at the end of the day.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the range of calories you eat per day?
Aaron: I try to stay about 100 to 200 calories under the calorie goal the MyPlate Calorie Tracker assigns. As my weight has dropped, my calorie goal has lowered too, so that has become harder as I make more progress towards my goal.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What are the healthy staples that are always in your kitchen?
Aaron: Soup, fruit, granola bars and Weight Watchers desserts are some of the healthy foods I always keep on hand.
LIVESTRONG.COM: How do you strategize for meals?
Aaron: The vast majority of the time I pack my lunch for work and avoid any treats that the guys bring to the office.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's the biggest challenge you faced?
Aaron: I did not realize that I had been holding myself back from losing weight because of the way that I thought about it. The problem with my weight was not a thyroid issue or some other cause outside of my control. The reason I was overweight was all in my head and directly related to the way I thought about food.
Once I decided to change, I had to (and have to still) decide to stick with that change each day. The changes I am making are not just to reach my goal, they are to reach my goal and maintain that healthy weight by changing the way I live to a life that is healthy.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your biggest secret to success that you want to share with others?
Aaron: Two of my biggest first steps were weighing my portion sizes for each meal using a food scale and weighing myself every day.
Just a year ago, the thought of weighing my food for each meal would have made me laugh. But once I started weighing the food I ate before each meal I realized that my portion sizes were enormous and much more than I ever should have been eating.
Weighing myself each day was something my dad suggested. He did it and said it helped him to stay on track. He told me not to get discouraged if my weight did not change or even if it went up a pound or two in a day because fluctuations are normal. His advice was that you can't change what you don't track, and it's better to track it each day. That worked well for him, and it has been helpful for me too.
LIVESTRONG.COM: What's your life like now?
Aaron: I feel great about myself these days. I like feeling the weight coming off and my clothes getting looser. I know I have farther to go on my journey, but I am more confident about getting there after the success I've experienced so far. This newfound confidence has translated to other parts of my life as well, both at work and at home.
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.