According to NHANES, nearly one in three adults are overweight, and more than two in five have obesity. Furthermore, about one in 11 adults are severely obese. Losing weight — and keeping it off — is difficult for even the most motivated. Science shows that fad diets, detox teas, and other popular “lose weight quick” aids don’t work. Plus, they often leave you worse off than before. While there’s no easy way to lose weight, getting healthy and keeping the pounds off is possible. Just look at these 35 inspiring weight loss stories.
When Katie first started her weight loss journey, she was 280 pounds and had been told that she had angina, a pre-diagnosis for multiple sclerosis (MS), and PCOS. Doctors told her that she was in danger of a heart attack and would possibly have fertility issues if she didn’t do something quickly. So she did! Katie immediately began following the “80/20” rule, 80% clean eating and 20% “sweets, treats, and cheats.” She allowed herself one cheat day a week, which gradually lessened to only a few days a month.
However, she didn’t restrict herself; putting restrictions had hampered her weight loss in the past, so this time she focused on adding healthy foods and tracking her calories and macros. In addition to transforming how she ate, Katie also started working out, putting a lot of emphasis on cardio and weightlifting. She lost a whopping 150 pounds in just three years and even won the Transformation division of a World Beauty Fitness & Fashion bodybuilding competition.
Mike’s weight loss journey started with a family emergency. On Christmas Day, his father-in-law had a heart attack and was put on life support. As Mike saw his family gathered around his father-in-law, he had the sudden revelation that it could just as easily be him in that hospital bed. Furthermore, with two young sons, he knew he had to make a change to be there as his children grew up.
At 450 pounds at his heaviest, Mike had a lot of work to do changing his relationship with food. So he started with exercise, telling his wife that he wanted to lose weight and joining a gym together with her. Mike thrives on accountability and competition, so having someone there with him was crucial! He lost most of his weight – 200 pounds – in the first 18 months and has worked hard to keep it off. He maintains a 1500-calorie-a-day diet and has joined many accountability groups, including From Fat to Finish Line.
Robin’s weight-loss journey started when a blood clot stopped her heart, nearly killing her. At her heaviest, over 450 pounds, she was medically unable to work or attend school and couldn’t do normal daily activities. The hospital stay was a frightening wake-up call for her, and she committed to changing her life right away.
Because Robin didn’t know much about health or cooking, she began using Isagenix shakes to aid her on her weight-loss journey. She replaced two meals a day with the shakes, then prepared one healthy meal herself. She also started hiking, swimming, and riding bikes and took pictures of herself along the way to track her journey. Robin attributes her success to Isagenix and to making small, obtainable goals. She tracked her progress in MyFitnessPal and would look back at progress photos for motivation, and eventually lost nearly 300 pounds!
Jeremiah had loved sports and fitness as a kid and young adult, even owning his own personal training studio – which is where he met his wife. Together, they had a son and decided to open an antique business. However, the company took over his life slowly, and his love of fitness faded into the background. His wake-up call was when he could no longer keep up with his 10- and 8-year-old boys on a hike. Now 100 pounds overweight, he realized he had to change his life if Jeremiah wanted to live the way he dreamed.
He immediately switched to the keto diet and began working out, but not in a gym; he simply went back to doing the things he loved. Jeremiah would take his dog on hikes through the mountains and start lifting weights. He also cut out all alcohol. Jeremiah’s actions led him to lose 92 pounds in just five months! He hopes that his success will inspire others to find their own way to healthy weight loss.
Kathleen had struggled with weight her entire life, with her mom getting a note from her pediatrician to put her into Weight Watchers in fourth grade. By 21, she was dealing with anxiety and depression. Kathleen had turned to food to cope, and by 23, she weighed over 330 pounds. She was diagnosed with diabetes and dealing with high blood pressure and decided that enough was enough. Kathleen chose to have gastric bypass surgery, where staples create a small pouch at the top of her stomach to restrict food intake. Moreover, while some people resent her weight loss, saying she didn’t have to work for it, Kathleen disagrees.
Weight loss surgery requires a massive commitment and a drastic change in your relationship with food, and weight loss like hers isn’t guaranteed. She’s lost 179 pounds and kept it off by completely changing her eating habits and incorporating exercise. She says the best advice she can give is that you have to want to change for yourself, not anyone else!
You would think that a guy like Neal Bendesky, who worked in the athletic industry, would know a thing or two about staying in shape. Unfortunately, his bad eating habits got the better of him, causing him to get to around 450 pounds. He worked long hours in his store and then came home to binge since he never really had time at work.
Neal decided to change his life when a young child asked him if he was Santa Clause when he wore a red shirt. He started attending a fitness class called Orangetheory, which helped him develop a good exercise habit and changed his relationship with food. In the end, he lost about 261 pounds and continues to stick to his low-calorie diet to this day. He’s completed 16 half-marathons up to this point and is showing no signs of stopping his new way of life.
For several years, Tiffany Humphries found herself slowly putting on the pounds over a period of fifteen years. She also noticed that her unhappiness increased with those pounds, but she couldn’t find the drive she needed to get rid of them. Even when she couldn’t get on a ride at Six Flags because she was over the weight limit, she didn’t do anything.
Nevertheless, an epiphany came to her when she realized she wanted to live longer to see her daughter grow up. She joined Weight Watchers and started to change how she approached food, leading her to make healthier choices. That commitment led to her losing over 100 pounds and running 5Ks like nobody’s business. Tiffany found new happiness in her life that’s helping her to keep the weight off and improve her quality of life in the long run.
Trying to find time to exercise when you work all day can be challenging, but Mike Holbrook found a way to make it happen. Once a member of the United States Rowing National Team, he started putting on weight after the Olympics when he no longer needed to continue his training. Eventually, he slowly slid and ended up weighing 300 pounds.
Although he made multiple attempts to lose weight, including doing half-marathons, he would only shed a few pounds and then put them right back on. So he decided to change up his routine. Instead of spontaneous training for these half-marathons, he would incorporate exercise while at work, which led to him burning more calories than he usually would. In just seven months, he ended up losing about 50 pounds. He also focused on more calorie-dense foods to decrease his snacking between meals and reduce the amount of food per meal.
Television host, Raymond Gutierrez, noticed that he disliked several things about himself at the start of the decade. One of them was his weight, and he decided to change his life choices. Raymond started exercising more and changing the foods that he ate on a regular basis. Being in his 20s, Raymond wanted to be much healthier in the future.
He was having a problem with eating and drinking his feelings to escape from his emotions. However, once he discovered the source of these problems, he decided to change his life for the better. After all his hard work, he ended up losing 70 pounds and has kept the weight off ever since now that he’s completely turned his life around. Keep reading for more motivational weight loss stories.
Sue Barnard had struggled with her weight a lot over the years. She’d tried every weight loss program but only put the weight back on overtime. Sue turned to The Fast 800 program, which Dr. Michael Mosely developed, and changed her life forever. In just three short months, she lost nearly 42 pounds.
It was made even easier because she had the support of her husband throughout the process. He allowed her to cook so that she knew exactly what was going into her meals, and they both decided to quit drinking together. Sue improved her health so much that she no longer needed to rely on antacids after every meal like she used to when she was much heavier. She can go for long walks without her knees hurting, and her arthritis doesn’t impact her life as much as it used to.
Kayla Rusiecki had always struggled with her weight, ever since she was a little girl. It made her self-conscious about being around her friends and going to events with them. She even skipped her prom because of it. Her weight had put a strain on her health when she was young, making her borderline hypertensive. When she became married and moved in with her husband, she found herself binge drinking and eating foods that weren’t good for her.
However, in 2018, she and her husband decided to quit drinking altogether, giving her the jumpstart she needed to start paying attention to her health. She started using a food container system to help with portion control and then switched to journaling her food to have an accurate account of what she was eating every day. Adding exercise to the mix, Kayla was capable of shedding all of her excess weight and is now trimmer than she’s ever been.
Vanessa Saavedra was always eager to take care of her health by controlling her weight. She managed to get to a healthy number once before by doing an all-liquid diet, and Vanessa ended up losing 70 pounds. However, once she stopped the diet, she gained it all back, plus 20 extra pounds on top of it. This dedicated worker didn’t give up hope, however. Vanessa realized she needed to change it all when she volunteered to be a Roadied at an AIDS/LifeCycle event to support her father.
Weighing 342 pounds, she couldn’t zip up the tent she was staying in. Nevertheless, receiving an award for Roadie of the Day motivated her to start changing her life. She realized that if she could work this hard to help other people, she could do the same for herself. So Vanessa invested in a NordicTrack and changed her diet entirely so that she could work at home during the pandemic. She also added intermittent fasting to her routine and has lost 94 pounds since she started.
Janielle Wright was sick of carrying around all of this extra weight around. Weighing about 337 pounds, she found herself in constant pain and had difficulty breathing when she went to bed at night. As a health and beauty influencer, Janielle wanted to heed the advice she was sharing with everyone else. The fear of not seeing her three-year-old grow up also scared her, so Janielle decided to take matters into her own hands.
She began her weight loss journey by engaging in intermittent fasting at the start of the year, and that is when you give yourself a small window of time to eat. Through this process, she ended up losing about 65 pounds in about six months. Janielle used the 16:8 method: only eating during an 8-hour window and then fasting for 16 hours. She ruled out breakfast and ate only two meals a day using this method.
Dr. Kevin R. Gendreau once weighed over 300 pounds in 2016, working as a family doctor. He’d started using food as a means of comfort after his father passed away from cancer. Being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea didn’t help. His sister’s diagnosis of metastatic ovarian cancer made Kevin realize he needed to do something to improve the way he lived.
In 18 months, he ended up meeting his goal weight. Instead of working in family medicine, he started working in obesity medicine and now works in the Fresh Start Program so that he can support other patients dealing with obesity to help improve their lives. He even wrote a cookbook loaded with 21 recipes to help other people lose weight in their own time too. He’s already sold about 1,000 copies and continues to help those who come to him for help. Keep reading for more inspiring weight loss stories.
Linda Migliaccio grew up in a home where food was used as a crutch for their emotions. Her mother was an excellent cook, which meant that Linda was always eating great… probably more than she should. Her eating habits became a real problem when she went to school and discovered that she was much heavier than the rest of her classmates.
As she grew older, her weight was constantly going up. Though she did lose some of the weight, she would end up bingeing and put it all back on. Her heaviest weight was almost 350 pounds, and it was the doctor’s diagnosis that she would end up in a wheelchair, so she changed her life. She focused on a diet with fruits, vegetables, and grains as the focus of every meal, without cutting out other foods altogether. In two years, she lost almost 190 pounds, which took a lot of pressure off her knees, eliminating her need for knee surgery.
Lexlee Hudson used to be an athlete in high school, especially playing on the basketball team. That gave her a high metabolism that dealt with any junk food she ate on a regular basis. However, after her basketball career ended after tearing her ACL, Lexlee didn’t change her eating habits at all. She ate what was easy to get her hands on, which led to her constantly fluctuating weight. Within a year, she had gained almost 200 pounds.
Her heath started to suffer as a result: she was in constant back pain, pre-diabetic, and had high blood pressure. At only 22, Lexlee felt older than she really was, and she knew she needed to make a change for the better. Her grandmother inspired her to start losing weight after she lost 75 pounds on her own. However, when that didn’t work, she found her own way to begin her journey. She started changing out her favorite meals with healthier options, such as pizzas with cauliflower crusts. The weight began to melt off, and in the first month alone, she lost about 30 pounds.
In April of 2019, Michael Hearn decided that it was time to change his life. He was weighing almost 450 pounds and had just celebrated his 55th birthday when he realized that he didn’t have much time left to do all the things he wanted. So Michael decided to change his life for the better by losing weight. He first changed his diet to be more protein-based and eliminated any foods that didn’t have any nutritional value.
Given his weight, regular exercise was a little difficult for him, so he had bariatric surgery to help jumpstart the process. He started running and made it his mission to complete a road race in every single state. He knew that the surgery would only do so much to help him lose weight. By November of that same year, he’d lost about 200 pounds and didn’t regret a single minute of his decision.
Although Steve Fleming was a retired Master Sergeant at age 65, he wanted to make a change in his life. He noticed that he had difficulties putting on his socks and shoes every day and couldn’t even tie his shoes. Fleming had trouble getting out of the car whenever he drove anywhere, and he knew then that he needed to lose some weight.
He weighed about 320 pounds, and in just two years, he lost 130 of those pounds. Being much healthier, his doctor stated that he was now pre-diabetic instead of being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. He ate less, walked more, and even attended an Eat2Live nutrition class that taught people how to make healthier eating choices. Steve continued to change up his workout routine every week so that he wouldn’t get bored, and doing so helped his joints and muscles stay active.
Pakistani expat Ismail Mubarak had always been a little big. However, he didn’t enjoy feeling lethargic all the time. Ismail was becoming self-conscious about his waistline, and by the time 2020 (the disaster year) hit, he knew that there wasn’t going to be much chance to lose all of the extra weight. Ismail was already over 200 pounds, and the disparaging remarks from people around him made him want to change his life.
However, along with those comments, he also got advice about losing weight. He cut out carbs, started doing jump ropes, and stuck with it. Plus, Ismail walked roughly five miles every day. Furthermore, he thought that people would be happy for him during his weight loss journey, but he only got more comments about looking sick, and his friends were upset that he didn’t eat out with them as much. He lost roughly 50 pounds in only four months and began feeling more confident about his appearance. His outlook was also more positive and has even inspired the rest of his family to start losing weight.
This isn’t Alex Wittner’s first time trying to lose weight. In middle school, she started her own journey and lost about 30 pounds. Unfortunately, she ended up putting it all back on. Then she began to spiral throughout high school after she suffered a concussion during a soccer game, making her ineligible to continue playing. The weight started to pile on until she got to a whopping 270 pounds. Food became her crutch, and she stopped wanting to be social.
Thankfully, her parents managed to help her start her journey toward improving her life. They signed her up for Weight Watchers, and she became hooked ever since. In combination with lifting and high-intensity training, she managed to lose 100 pounds and found exercises that she loved to do on a regular basis. Alex made sustainable changes to her life to help her stick to her diet and exercise routine without feeling miserable. Continue reading to discover more inspirational weight loss stories.
Everyone was surprised when John Goodman suddenly shed a lot of weight, as much as 200 pounds! His weight had been yo-yo-ing over the years. However, this actor now said that all of his weight was gone for good. It once took him about three months to lose about 70 pounds, but then he would reward himself for a job well done and put all of the weight back on.
He hired a personal trainer and aimed to make at least 10,000 steps a day. John Goodman exercised six days out of the week, starting with 40 minutes of cardio in the morning and then 40 minutes of cardio in the afternoon. He reappeared after losing a lot of weight, which made his fans exceedingly happy and proud of him. This actor made the change because he grew tired of looking at himself in the mirror and feeling sick and tired all the time. He’s also shared his choice to go sober in 2007, and he’s stuck with it ever since.
Just before Taye Baker turned 16, he was hospitalized with diabetes. Taye had a lethal build-up of ketones in the bloodstream. That leads to the body being unable to produce enough insulin in order to deal with these high levels. Of course, he weighed more than 300 pounds before turning 16, which had a massive impact on his health. However, once he was discharged from the hospital, his mother decided that they needed to make changes together.
He changed his diets and started exercising more, and in just a year, he had lost 118 pounds. He no longer needed to take insulin for his condition, and his confidence started to go up. Baker and his mother discovered that if they wanted things to change, they would have to put in the effort to do it. Taye will have to continue this lifestyle for the rest of his life, and he has no qualms against it now that he’s feeling much happier with himself.
Samantha King has admitted to trying every diet out there, and none of them have worked for her. She’s tried everything from slimming groups to meal replacements and the advice of professionals. At 35, she knew from a very young age that she was always heavier than the other kids and could never find stylish clothes in her size.
She’d started her first diet by the age of 15, but nothing had ever worked for her. Once she got married, she decided to sign up for Operation Transformation with her husband to provide her with the motivation she needed to lose weight. Unfortunately, once the program ended, she found herself losing motivation again. Eventually, she received approval for gastric band surgery scheduled for the summer. Hopefully, with this new change in her life, she’ll be able to keep the weight off for good.
Eight years ago, Simrun Chopra was going through a lot, both physically and mentally. She hadn’t even noticed the incremental bodyweight she’d been putting on or that it would significantly affect her health. Simrun had PCOS and a bad back, so that she couldn’t bear looking at herself in a mirror. This mom had to deal with a difficult pregnancy at the time, but when her son turned three months, everything changed.
Simrun got up one night to change his diaper and a debilitating pain shot through her entire body. This problem would repeatedly happen, making it challenging to take care of her baby. She decided to hire a personal trainer to help her get back on the right track. She also changed how she ate, and the weight started to melt off. Eventually, she lost about 55 pounds and felt her energy levels increase. She could now take care of her baby, and she noticed that her skin quality also improved.
During the pandemic, Quinton Aaron gained some weight, but things became serious after he contracted the respiratory illness that swept the world. Because it altered his sense of taste, he had trouble tasting anything at all, and chocolate was the only thing that tasted different to him, so he started to eat more of that. He was eating about two to three candy bars each day, and his body began to tell him that it wasn’t a good idea. Quinton had constant knee pain and high blood pressure but wanted to change for the better.
He’d lost weight on the keto diet before but found that he had much better results when he worked out in the gym. So he started using the 80/20 method, which is eating healthier foods 80% of the time and unhealthy foods 20% of the time. This reduction in his salt intake significantly improved his blood pressure, and he stopped his chocolate bar addiction to cold turkey. He dropped 100 pounds altogether but is still aiming to lose more in order to get below 400 pounds.
Judy Wilson had made it her mission to lose 200 pounds before turning 70 years old. At the age of 65, she already weighed a little over 431 pounds, so it seemed like the task would be impossible. Judy was already on two blood pressure medications as well as a machine to help her with her sleep apnea. After she became a mother, she’d started putting on the weight because she saw food as comfort. She then began “Queendom Bootcamp,” a local 21-day eating program that trained her on how to change her eating habits.
She added this to her daily routine and started an exercise routine to help her lose even more weight. It took only about four years for her to lose 200 pounds, and she has kept all of it off ever since. On the day Judy celebrated her 70th birthday, she no longer needed her blood pressure medication, nor did she have to use her sleep apnea machine anymore. Judy’s story proves that it’s never too late to start trying to lose weight.
Megan Christensen realized that she couldn’t keep up with her children when she weighed 351 pounds. This mom was constantly out of breath and in too much pain. Megan knew then that she needed to make some crucial changes in her life to be happy playing with them again. At only 37, Megan discovered that there wasn’t a lot she could do anymore, like climbing stairs or going on rides at amusements parks. So she started taking matters into her own hands and took a closer look at the food she was eating every day.
She narrowed down the calories she was eating every day and the kinds of food she was eating. By making small changes to those foods, she managed to lose 100 pounds in about six months. However, she knew she needed to keep the weight off. So Megan added exercise to her regimen as well. She also hired online fitness coaches to help her stay on track and started running 5Ks, 10ks, and half-marathons to keep her body busy. After only 15 months, she ended up losing 200 pounds.
Megan Birke had always struggled with her weight and noticed that she really started putting on the pounds when she first became pregnant, gaining about 60 pounds in the process. She yo-yo-ed in weight and then gained even more after her other two pregnancies. This mother found herself in constant pain, especially with her PCOS, and constantly felt fatigued.
She challenged herself to try and lose at least eight pounds in a month, or else she would elect for weight loss surgery. However, instead of losing just eight pounds in the first month, she lost twenty! If she could keep up this progress, she wouldn’t need the surgery at all. In fact, in the first six months of her change, she lost 100 pounds. She grew more confident, had more exercise to take care of her kids, and noticed that her pains and ailments no longer impeded her life.
Thirty-two-year-old Jarred Aslett started to re-examine his life after his engagement ended. Since he’d graduated, he’d been gaining weight to the point that he ended up weighing about 220 kilograms (almost 500 pounds). That’s a lot of weight to carry around and can have quite a detrimental effect on a person’s bones and organs. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he could no longer do what he enjoyed doing, like surfing and snowboarding. And because of that, he started drinking alcohol to help him cope with his feelings, which only added more weight.
However, after attending therapy, he realized he needed to change his habits and how he conducted his life. His journey started by working out with his brother at the gym for 90 minutes at a time. In only 50 months, he lost 220 pounds, almost half of the weight he once was. He hasn’t let up on his training either and has started snowboarding again like he used to.
Mike Pompeo, the former director of the CIA, faced many challenges throughout his career, but his weight continued to plague him the most. In 2021, he reached a whopping 300 pounds and realized that he had to do something to change his life. The next day, Mike woke up and took charge of his figure. He started by exercising almost every day and changing how he ate.
He even added a home area to his gym so that he could increase the intensity of his workouts and burn even more calories. Mike focused on working out for at least 30 minutes each day to start turning exercise into a good habit. In just six months, he ended up losing about 90 pounds. However, instead of congratulating him, most people who saw his pictures asked if he was sick or had some other health problem. It’s a shame that his hard work wasn’t more celebrated.
Lisa Laurion gained the motivation to lose weight after attending her own son’s wedding. Seeing pictures of herself while weighing 250 pounds, she didn’t like how she looked. So Lisa decided to start cutting many things out of her diet to begin her weight loss journey. The first thing she cut out of her diet was ice cream and coffee.
Then she joined the Take Off Pounds Sensibly Program, which helped her shed even more weight. Lisa then removed flour from her diet and measured her meals three times a day to ensure that she was eating the right portion. By the end of it all, she ended up losing almost 100 pounds, all at the age of 60! Of course, she has plans to keep the weight off forever due to her new lifestyle.
Martine had had enough of her weight after having her second child. She weighed roughly 225 pounds and attributed it to her bad eating habits while pregnant with her second child. She ate whatever she wanted, even getting up in the middle of the night to eat a bowl of cereal before going right back to bed. However, after her second child stopped breastfeeding, she realized that she could no longer blame her bad eating habits on being pregnant. She couldn’t play with her six-year-old either without losing her breath.
So she decided to take matters into her own hands. She used to be an active runner, too. However, Martine knew that she couldn’t use the same weight-loss tactics as before because of her age. Instead, she decided to put intermittent fasting to the test after seeing how well it worked for other people on social media. In a single year, she ended up losing about 80 pounds!