Nutrition

3 amazing weight-loss success stories

Photo by Jeff Cooke Author: Canadian Living Credits: Photo by Jeff Cooke

Nutrition

3 amazing weight-loss success stories

Noah Lehava, web production editor in Toronto
Age: 24
Height: 5' 4½"
Pounds lost: 45

After years of avoiding exercise because of asthma, by her late teens Noah Lehava found herself 40 pounds heavier than she wanted to be. She tried a weight-loss centre. "I lost 11 pounds in the first few months, then gained them all back," she says. A few years later, she tried a doctor known for his super-strict small-portions-and-no-carbs diet. "I saw him for a month and lost 10 pounds, but then I cheated," she says.

Develop healthy eating and fitness habits
Fed up with weighing 170 pounds and trying programs that delivered short-term results but eventually failed, Noah got tough with herself in February 2011. "I had come back from a trip to Argentina where I was eating dulce de leche–stuffed pastries and steak sandwiches called chivitos. I said, 'That's it. I'm doing my own plan.'" She went cold turkey on junk food, refined sugar and simple carbs. Fresh veggies, protein and dairy formed the entirety of her diet. She even banished the saltshaker. "I ate small meals and snacked throughout the day," she says.

Slashing carbs helped her slim down, as it had in the past, but the key to her success was getting fit. "I realized I didn't know the difference between asthma and being out of shape," says Noah, who had used her childhood condition as an escape clause to avoid strenuous workouts. In April 2011, a friend convinced her to join an indoor bootcamp-style exercise class called Booty Camp Fitness, which had surprising results. Hooked on the endorphin blast, the camaraderie and the cardio results, she soon noticed she didn't need an inhaler to get through the sessions. Though she always keeps it on hand for emergencies, her puffer is pretty much a thing of the past.

Now that she's attained her goal weight of 125 pounds, "it's about being healthy and maintaining. I have to see this as a way of life," she says. "For five days during the week I'm really good. On the weekend, if I want a sandwich instead of a salad, then I have a sandwich."

Expert advice on cutting carbs:
"It's not wise to cut all carbs, but it is OK to cut refined grains," says Canadian Living's registered dietitian, Cara Rosenbloom. "Replace refined carbs with whole grains such as quinoa, whole wheat, oats or brown rice," she says.

Page 1 of 4 -- An active lifestyle helped Tiffany Northorp-Boudreau lose over 200 pounds. Read about her weight-loss journey on page 2

Tiffany Northorp-Boudreau, mom and part-time sales associate in Shearwater, N.S.
Age: 29
Height: 5' 5''
Pounds lost: 202

"For years, I wanted to do something about my weight, but was too overwhelmed by the amount I had to lose," says Tiffany Northrop-Boudreau. Weighing 360 pounds, she says it was during a hospital stay because of complications after gallbladder surgery that a switch flipped. "Lying there, I realized I had taken life for granted, and I didn't want my children growing up with a mother who couldn't be active with them," she says. "If I continued being that obese, my health problems would only increase." So in February 2010, she began her weight-loss journey.

Get active and boost your energy
Once Tiffany recovered from her stay in the hospital, she hit the treadmill. "I'd walk at 2.2 miles per hour for 20 minutes. I was so tired, but so happy I had done it," she says. When spring came, she took her walking routine outside, two times a day for 30 minutes, with her kids, Jack, 5, and Lexie, 3. "I didn't want my children having the same weight problem I had, and because it was likely they would pick up my unhealthy habits, it would be history repeating itself," she says.

In January 2011 her family relocated to Shearwater, N.S., for her hubby's navy job. Did the stress of the move make her give up and reach for the chips? No way: It actually motivated her to join the gym because it was now nearby. She does resistance training three times a week, an activity she found she loves. "I wish I started weight training at the beginning!" she says. "Then I'd be more toned."

Ways to eat healthier
Healthy eating has become part of her family life, for good. "I stay away from starches, sugar and grease," she says. And she eats lean meats, fruits and loads of veggies. "I have a high-fibre breakfast, my biggest meal at noon and something small and light for dinner," she says. Once a week, she treats herself to whatever she wants to eat. "I like a big ol' plate of nachos," she says.

Page 2 of 4 -- Find out how resistance training can help you achieve your weight-loss goals faster on page 3Losing weight successfully
Amazingly, Tiffany has lost 202 pounds all by herself and aims to lose 15 more. "I haven't joined any support groups, only the one I made on Facebook for friends to chat about losing weight," she says. Now she's the active mom she longed to be. "Do you know how amazing it is to be able to run with your kids and keep up? At 360 pounds you're limited. But now I take them to the park, the beach, run around with them and play soccer," she says. "I have energy to spare!"

Expert advice on resistance training:
"Most women focus solely on cardio when trying to achieve their weight-loss goals, and figure they'll add resistance training once they lose the weight," says Pamela Mazzuca Prebeg, Canadian Living's personal trainer and athletic therapist.

"But resistance training at any weight will help you achieve weight-loss goals faster, and will result in a thinner, leaner and sculpted body that is healthy and strong," she says.

Stephanie Acker, office administrator and day care manager in Squamish, B.C.
Age: 41
Height: 5' 1"
Pounds lost: 80

Sitting way too much – one hour each way during her commute, then for hours at a time at a stressful former job – meant the pounds packed on for Stephanie Acker, who was a size 26 by her late 30s. In June 2009 she received a diagnosis that prompted her to take control of her weight ASAP: fatty liver disease. Simply put, her liver was dangerously taxed due to the excess weight she was carrying.

Taking control of your weight
The night of her diagnosis, Stephanie joined an online weight-loss-support community called SparkPeople that focuses on balanced eating. Then she started walking her way back to health. "I love walking, and started at a pace I was comfortable with. I'd rather be outside than in a gym," she says. Now she walks to and from her new (less-stressful) job at her church, one hour each way, and swims three times a week. "Living in the mountains with so many amazing trails, I try to do at least one hike each month," she says.

Page 3 of 4 -- Stephanie struggled to lose 80 pounds during her weight-loss journey. Find out how she did it on page 4
Eat smaller portions
She learned from her online group to eat meals that are balanced but not spartan. For instance, Stephanie chooses low-fat foods whenever possible, and uses small dinner plates to create the illusion of larger servings. She indulges in snack foods, but sticks to small-portion packages.

Set healthy weight-loss goals
Losing 80 pounds wasn't all smooth hiking. "When I hit a plateau, I got really frustrated," she recalls. After a year of being active but not seeing results on the scale, her family doctor referred her to Dr. Ali Zentner, a Vancouver-area physician well-known for her own healthy weight loss. "Dr. Zentner was a real encouragement through that period," Stephanie says. Specifically, she told Stephanie to find something she couldn't do at the start of her journey to show herself how far she had come. So she quite literally chose a mountainous task.

"I set a goal for myself to hike to the top of a local mountain called The Chief," she says, a peak she'd never thought she could climb. "It was one of the toughest things I have ever done, but after a few hours I was on top of the mountain, enjoying the most beautiful view I've ever seen." Now, at size 16, Stephanie's liver condition is under control, and she continues to walk, hike and swim to her goal, to be a size 10.

Expert advice on calories:
Stuck on a plateau when you're trying to climb a weight-loss mountain? Zentner suggests doing a "food audit" to assess exactly what you're eating, and to gauge your calorie intake. "As we lose weight, our metabolic requirements drop and we need less calories than when we started the weight-loss program," says Zentner, who was featured on "Village on a Diet," CBC's hit 2011 series. "Under no circumstances should we drop below 1,200 calories per day," she says.

This story was originally titled "Slimming Down, Shaping Up!" in the April 2012 issue.

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Nutrition

3 amazing weight-loss success stories

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