Weight Loss

How they did it: One couple's weight-loss journey

By: Janet Rowe

Photography by Lauren Hayes Author: Canadian Living Credits: Photography by Lauren Hayes

Weight Loss

How they did it: One couple's weight-loss journey

By: Janet Rowe

Amy MacKay
Lost: 29 pounds
Occupation: Hotel bartender
Time period: May to December 2012
Height: 5'9"
Weight loss: 172 to 143 pounds

Jesse MacKay
Lost: 27 pounds
Occupation: Musician
Time period: May 2012 to present
Height: 6'0"
Weight loss: 237 to 210 pounds

Where they started
Tackling weight loss with a loved one might sound like a good idea, but it didn't work for Amy and Jesse MacKay of Toronto, at least not at first. They tried to hold each other accountable, but couldn't. "We let each other off the hook," explains Amy.

For both Amy and Jesse, weight gain snuck up on them. Erratic late-night schedules (Amy is a bartender, Jesse a musician) made it hard to stay active. "Then I injured my back quite badly," says Jesse. "For a whole year, I was completely sedentary. I gained 30 pounds and didn't realize it." Meanwhile, Amy struggled with a slowing metabolism that was once lightning-fast. (As a teenager, she was able to out-eat the boys.) One day, she tried to pull on a pair of her favourite jeans and couldn't get them over her hips. The couple had to make a change.

How they did it
When their initial attempts to shed pounds failed, Amy and Jesse joined a Jenny Craig centre. Their consultant, Annabelle, taught them about portion control and the Volumetrics approach of choosing filling, low-calorie foods.

The couple already owned a treadmill and regularly walked their dog, so they decided to add in running. "I realized that once you start exercising, you have more energy," says Amy.

The pair also leaned on their counsellor for encouragement. "I didn't want to disappoint Annabelle and I didn't want to disappoint Amy and I didn't want to disappoint myself," explains Jesse. "Having the counsellor really kept us on track throughout the week."

Where they are now
Halfway through their weight-loss journey, Jesse surprised Amy and proposed at a restaurant—with 60 loved ones hiding behind a curtain. "When I was heavier, I would have been so mortified, because you don't want everyone looking at you," Amy admits. "But I was just so happy to have that moment and to feel good about myself." The couple married on a beach in Australia in February of last year.

Today, they cook with vegetables from their own garden, and they've added a boxing class to their routine of daily treadmill sessions and dog walks.

Lessons they learned
Being accountable to a third party allowed Amy and Jesse to focus on supporting each other instead of nagging.

They've also learned the power of planning. Jesse makes dinners they can pack and take with them, which helps them cope with their evening shift work. "So when I get home, I'm not hungry," says Amy. "I think that structure is the biggest thing that helped me lose weight," she says.

Pro tips from Cara Rosenbloom
Using Volumetrics is a great idea. For the same caloric intake, Amy and Jesse can enjoy three overflowing cupfuls of vegetables instead of five small french fries! Seeing a plate full of food makes many dieters feel more satisfied, even when they take in fewer calories.

Amy and Jesse also have the advantage of relying on each other and on Annabelle for backup: Accountability motivates and increases determination.

Continuing to cook and bring homemade meals to work is a winning strategy for resisting less nutritious meal choices. And cooking for each other is a great way to stay close while exploring new, healthful recipes that add variety to their diets.

Cara Rosenbloom is a Toronto-based registered dietitian.

We have lots more inspiring weight-loss stories, including how 5 nurses from New Brunswick lost a total of 200 pounds together.

This story was originally titled "Fit Together" in the April 2014 issue.
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Weight Loss

How they did it: One couple's weight-loss journey