This husband and wife made a joint decision to lose weight and have shed 167 pounds so far in their journey.
Be Well Lynchburg Editor Shelley Basinger: You two have made healthy living a team effort over the past couple of years. Take us back to your “before.” What was your lifestyle like?
Dan: At our heaviest, I weighed 404 and she weighed 299. We were both on numerous prescription drugs. We ate out a lot and never really cooked at home that often. If we went to a buffet, we would “eat our money’s worth” and not stop when we were full. We didn’t exercise mostly because of Leigh Anne’s inability to.
Leigh Anne: In 2013, I was going to a personal trainer and had lost a lot of weight. In September of that year, I was paralyzed after having an epidural injection for back pain. After that happened, I couldn’t work and had to learn how to walk again. I spent the better part of the next year going through physical therapy and regaining strength in my legs. I spiraled into depression which also contributed to us going out to eat a lot since I didn’t have the motivation to cook at home. >>
SB: When did you get a “wake up call”?
Dan: My doctor asked me during an annual physical if I wanted to live past the age 55, and of course my response was yes. He told me that if I didn’t change my lifestyle, I would not live to be 55. In January 2018, another physician told me that I needed to lose 100 pounds in six months.
SB: Whoa, I bet that was intimidating to hear!
Dan: It was, and it scared me because I was 41 years old and I wanted to live much longer with my wife. We started trying to lose weight in January 2018 but it lasted for about 15 days because it was with a program that had us drinking shakes—we realized shakes were just not for us. One of our business partners had started the keto diet in October 2017 and we watched him lose weight as well as talk about how his energy levels were much higher. He mentioned that he was never really hungry anymore.
Leigh Anne: In May 2018, Dan told me that he was going to start the keto diet the next day. He said I didn’t have to do it with him, but he was going to do it no matter what. He had two months left before he was to go back to the doctor for another physical and he wanted to show that he was losing some weight so she wouldn’t put him into a program. I told him that I was not going to prepare two different meals and that I needed to lose weight too. We quit cold turkey, gave away all the food we could and threw away the rest.
SB: What type of results did you see?
Dan: I lost 10-12 pounds the first week and started having a lot more energy than I have ever had. Leigh Anne lost about 5 pounds the first week. After that, we slowly kept shedding pounds. By that June, Leigh Anne had to purchase new clothes because she could no longer fit in her size 24 pants.
SB: But aside from weight loss, you are also enjoying other health benefits too.
Leigh Anne: I sleep so much better at night; my back, hip, leg pain is so much less frequent. I have a lot more energy and I enjoy exercising now. I have learned that I am actually a great cook and I love researching and finding new recipes. I actually don’t enjoy going out to eat anymore because I can make it so much better at home and I know what is going into my body.
Dan: I am no longer taking Metformin or Januvia (both diabetic medications), no longer on cholesterol medication and no longer taking blood pressure medication. Leigh Anne is also no longer taking blood pressure medication and she has since stopped taking Metformin for polycystic ovarian syndrome. We both have graduated to only having to go once a year for our annual physicals at our doctors.
SB: In terms of exercise, what types of things do you do to get your heart rate up?
Leigh Anne: I started walking around our neighborhood and a few days later Dan joined me. It actually started to become a healthy competition between the two of us. If one walked for a mile, the other would walk an extra lap. Dan went out one day and walked another area of the neighborhood that has rolling hills in it and because I didn’t want him to do more than I did, I went out later and walked the same path. About three months ago, I started incorporating some light jogging into the walk. Dan has a bad knee but he has in the last month started sprinting while I jog, which then pushes me to jog the same distance that he sprints. We use an app that tracks how far we have walked/jogged and each day we go out we try to beat the time from the day before. I’ve also started doing sit-ups and planks, which I was never able to do before.
SB: You all are a year and a half into your journey—what’s next for you? Do you have any SHORT- OR LONG-TERM GOALS?
Dan: This is a lifestyle that we are going to continue to live. We went to Atlanta for a convention with our business and didn’t really have the time to go to restaurants to eat healthy so we went off our diet for four days. When we returned home, our legs and feet had swollen up. We felt drained and our energy had drastically dropped. We realized then that the way we felt eating on the keto diet and the weight loss we have experienced was definitely worth it. When is inflammation ever good for you? Within three days of being home, we lost all of the weight and inflammation that we had gained during those four days.
Leigh Anne: We are definitely doing this for life. Even if we never lose another pound, the energy and the way that I feel is so worth it. We do not feel limited at all. My short-term goal is to be able to run a 5K again and eventually be able to run longer.
SB: What advice would you give to others who are wanting to transform their lives?
Dan: Make a decision on what you are going to do whether it is what you eat or your exercise. Picture what you will be like if you do these things. Each day, choose if you want to be the person you can be or the person you have been.
Leigh Anne: Read books or listen to audios that will help change your mindset on how you view your life. Once you choose something, stick with it. Don’t give up. Don’t view your diet or exercise as a chore or that you are limiting yourself. Don’t view it as a DIET, view it as a lifestyle change because you are changing your life.