Tipping the scales at over 500 pounds, one Central Florida man said he had no choice but to act on losing weight. After several failed attempts, he ended up dropping hundreds of pounds.
"We were a true southern family with lots of fried food, lots of fat," said B.E. Thompson. "All through elementary , middle and high school, I was always the biggest kid in the class."
Thompson has spent his entire life struggling with his weight. At 21, a liquid diet helped him shed 150 pounds in 3 months. When the diet stopped, so did the weight loss. Much of it came back. He spent the next decade trying every fad diet available. At 31, he dropped 200 pounds, but it didn't stay off.
"As soon as I reached my goal, I started packing weight back on, until eventually I got to 540 pounds," he said.
Living became a struggle, from mobility, to shopping, to working. His quality of life declined, but a trip to a doctor would scare him enough to make permanent changes.
"He said you're borderline diabetic."
Afraid of that reality, a transformation started. In February 2010, Thompson met with a trainer for the first time. In a race for his health, he spent 90 minutes training, 5 days every week.
"I Had major anxiety about getting on the equipment and being able to fit on the equipment," Thompson said.
He was committed. Two weeks later, he got serious about his diet. Lori Esarey, with Total Nutrition and Therapeutics, helped him with those goals.
"I knew it was possible, but I also knew all the trials he had been through," said Esarey.
Food was the enemy. He can remember what he was eating back then.
"Desserts, breads, pastas, potatoes," he said. "Based on some of the doctors I talked to, it was probably 7 to 10,000 calories a day, at times."
When the journey started, he was wearing a size 6 pants, to fit around his 72-inch waist.
"The beauty of looking at him now is that he is not going back," said Esarey.
They can laugh about it now. Almost 3 years later, the Lake County man has shed 322 pounds.
"Feeling good is more important to me than looking good, but I'm obviously very happy about the look too!"
He still keeps a food log, meets with Esarey about his personal health markers, and together, they are staying the course to say farewell to the fat.
"There is no finish line," Esarey told us. "I tell people all the time, this is not about the sprint, it's truly about the marathon. This is a new way of living."
Thompson now has his life back, able to do things that once became impossible, and in this new year, he's encouraging anyone who needs to change, to take that first step.
"I feel fantastic!" he said.