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Nearly 8 years ago I weighed 386 pounds, standing at 5'8 many did not know the number that was associated with my obesity, yet clearly I was obese. I struggled with binge eating, sleep, eating, and even attempted to purge from time to time. Nothing seemed to work in a way that I was able to keep the weight off once I lost some. I would loose 10 and regain 20. At the age of 26 I was unable to see my feet, unable to tie or buckle my shoes, and calling upon my 6 year old daughter to assist me with fully dressing myself. I had began to retain water and even developed a blood clot in my lower extremities. AT that point I knew I had to do something or I would not be able to see my child grow up. I met with my personal physician and there we discussed bariatric weight loss surgery. My decision had been made and the plan had began. I attended classes two nighst a week, prepping me for the life change that I would have to make prior to surgery, as well as for the rest of my life. I also began working out three times a week at a woman's gym and eating smaller portioned meals in my efforts to prove to my surgeon that i was committed to this life change. Prior to surgery I was able to loose 19 pounds. Which many would say proved that I was able to loose weight on my own. What they and I did not know is that I have a food addiction and I would struggle with my weight for the rest of my life. After my surgery I lost exactly 200 pounds. I went from 386 to 186. Many may think that is great but for me, I felt too thin and wanted to be a bit fuller. So I worked to gain a few pounds that would place me at a comfortable weight when I looked at MYSELF. I did that, but due to the stomach size reduction it was not easy. I had to eat higher caloric foods rather than larger portions of food. Which gave birth to a sweet tooth that I at one time did not have. I gained a total 60 pounds back which was far more than I had wanted. Now in 2013 I am still struggling with loosing some weight. I am down to 210 pounds which is close to where I want to be. (190) for my height. (5'8) I guess I should add that as Black woman with a shapely frame, this size looks great on me. I am now juicing two meals a day. Breakfast and lunch. I combine a mixture of fresh organic fruits and vegetables along with herbs. In the evening I eat a sensibly portioned meal usually white fish or chicken with some veggies or a simply salad. I do this Monday Through Friday. Weekends I eat what I want within reason as to not deprive myself of things that I truly enjoy.I have been able to maintain this lifestyle change for nearly three months and have lost 21 pounds as of last weeks weigh in. I also work out at least three times a week. I do 45 minutes cardio and then work on some weight machines that focus on specific target areas that I desire to tone. (thighs, abs, back) When at home on my non-gym days I do 100 jump-squates ( I SO LOVE THESE), as well as 50 lunges and 100 crunches. I post self made signs and posters over my bedroom walls reminding me of MY worth, MY health, My goal in the efforts to self talk and motivate me on those days that I am too tired or too lazy to love me enough to stay focused. I also feel it is important to work on your mental state when changing your lifestyle/eating habits. I meditate nightly with Dupak Chopra's meditation for 15 minutes. I pray each morning. This enables my day to begin AND to end in a mentally healthy manner. As I stated before I have an addiction to food. It is my comfort. When days are stressful as they can sometimes be, food would sooth me. NOW beginning and ending my day with positive words or encouragement and spirituality, I no longer need to be comforted by food if and when things don't go as planned or hoped for. I also stay completely away from processed foods and beverages. No more drive-through meals, no more pre-packaged products. I chose my calories wisely on my me time weekends. I get one thing that is worth it. So literally all week I am planning on getting whatever that may be simply to kill the urge to binge as I once used to do. It isn't easy I must say, when the world around you focuses on fast life and those around me don't struggle in the manner that i do with their weight. But in the end as my posters say, I am worth the end result. A little bit of sacrifice now is better than a bunch of medications later. I hope my story inspires others. YOU CAN DO IT TOO!

Contributed by Danielle Thomas

I just wanted to explain a little bit about myself so that you fully understand that this plan is my own, and it WORKS! 4 years ago I lost 112 pounds. I was a high school football player who stopped playing sports after graduating and realized how fast the calories and fat add up. I decided on one fateful day to start my own weight loss regiment and I have never looked back. It took me 10 months to lose this weight, and you can do it too. But I warn you, it is not easy. This is no DIET, this is a way of life. I do the same thing eeeeevery day. It can be monotonous, but if you put forth the effort and carve out the discipline, you will be happy and healthy, and you too will create a whole new you. Below is the plan that I have constructed over the last 4 years, and it works for me very well. Remember this plan is not for everyone. I am 6'1" 210 lbs. and a very active man of 23 years. If you are 5 ft. even and a 50 year old lady, the same meal plan may need minor tweaks. Feel free to ask me, I have learned a lot over the years about nutrition and even some of my very own workout plans. Good luck and message me for questions! vjpmd@yahoo.com O yeah and a vote or two couldn't hurt, I am a college student in a single parent home paying out of pocket with massive loan debts. Any contribution is most appreciated! VJP MEAL PLAN My Motto: If you don’t know where all of the ingredients came from, DON’T EAT IT! EAT EVERY 3 HOURS!! Drink at least 8oz. of WATER with each meal!!! 1. As soon as you wake up a. Omelet with 5 eggs (4 egg whites, and one whole egg) i. I slice or equivalent serving of cheese ( Try feta or cottage) ii. 4 slices of lean meat (I like to use lunch-meat ham or turkey) iii. Add a small serving of veggies (Spinach, minced broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, peppers etc..) iv. Mix it up! (use different spices and ingredients each time) b. Glass of 2% milk or Greek yogurt with no added sugars (avoid any serving over 10 grams of sugar ) 2. Oatmeal (Try to get steel-cut oats if possible, but 1-minute quick-oats are fine, but don’t use pre-packaged serving with added sugar!) a. Add 1 whole banana (sliced) b. Add 1 tbsp. of peanut butter (try to get peanut butter with no sugar added) 3. Create a Nut-Mix a. 2 handfuls of nut- mix i. I use equal parts almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries and cheerios into a big gallon bag b. 1 piece of fruit (orange, grapefruit, apple, etc..) 4. Main meal a. 1 serving of boneless, skinless, chicken breast (sautéed in a pan with olive oil and garlic) b. 1 cup of veggies (Spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens,etc( dark greens)) c. 1 cup of COMPLEX CARB. (Brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, buckwheat) i. I cook 5 meals (on Sundays) to sustain me for the week, and have them in Glad-ware containers so they are packaged and ready to go 5. Lean meal a. 2 servings of lean meat (Fish, turkey, chicken breast, soy substitutes) b. 1 serving of veggies (cauliflower, turnip, eggplant, carrots, onions, all types of lettuce, celery, cucumbers, cabbage, artichokes, asparagus, peppers) RULES • NO: Fast food, alcohol, sweets, SIMPLE CARBS. (bread, pasta, potatoes, corn, white rice, cereal, fruit juices, sodas, any processed baked goods) • When you cook, only use Olive oil; meaning NO: (butter, vegetable oil, corn oil, Crisco, margarine, deep fry oils, peanut oil etc..) • Avoid all added sugars, fats and processed foods; these foods contain preservatives and chemicals that your body doesn’t recognize as food, so it stores it as fat • Make sure you eat your first meal as soon as you wake up to boost your metabolism and give your fasting body the protein it needs; eat your last meal no less than 2 hours before you go to sleep so your body has time to burn off the remaining calories • Listen to your body! Exercise, get 8 hours of sleep per night, and remember to relax and enjoy!

Contributed by Vince Prezioso

Many of us have tried at one point or another some type of diet supplement. The hope is always some weight loss miracle. The reality is or at least my reality is the food intake and the non-exercise that is lacking in my everyday life. I want results and I want results now. But the truth is it takes time and effort. There is no miracle pill that will make you look like the male or female in commercials displaying a bottle of pills they have never digested. It’s about change within you, motivation, exercise and knowing it takes time to lose the extra weight. Let’s not buy into the get thin quick gimmicks.

Contributed by Michelle Perez

A very informative series of safe weight loss, diet, exercise and overall health with The Doctors and guest star Jillian Michaels. This is video 1/5; must watch all 5 to learn all the information and begin starting your healthy and "safe" journey to weight loss!

Contributed by Julie-Ann Wilder