CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Anyone who has ever struggled to lose weight knows the reality of doing that is so much more complicated than just "eat less" or "exercise more."
It might be that simple in a detached, medical way, but just beneath the surface there are often underlying emotions, high levels of stress and long-entrenched habits that impact success and failure -- just like those same things impact other poor choices, addictions and self-defeating behaviors.
Here, three West Virginians who've found success on the weight-loss journey share their stories in their own words.
Name: Andrea Gregor
Weight before: 245 pounds
Weight after: 140 pounds
In high school I ran track and cross country, and even after I graduated I did aerobics and things like that. But after I got married I started getting comfortable, and then after my two kids, I started thinking "I just needed to be a mom and a wife. This is my job now, and I don't have time to do things for myself."
I was very down, didn't want to see people I had been to high school with. I was almost ashamed of myself, just didn't have any confidence. I couldn't shop at the shops I shopped at before, couldn't do the things I used to do. I sort of hid from people. I'd tell my husband, "You go on in. I'm just going to sit in the car."
I tried other things -- juicing, Weight Watchers -- but it wasn't something that stuck with me. Maybe I just wasn't ready. I would just eat whatever I wanted. I enjoyed food and really believed I was meant to be heavy since I tried to lose weight so many times before.
The turning point was when my daughter started training in soccer and seeing how active she was and telling her, "Come on, you can do it, you have to believe in yourself, just try harder ..."
I was saying those things, and then I'd come to her practices and I couldn't run up and down the field. I was sitting there on the sidelines with a Coke and probably some chips yelling, "Don't give up, just keep going," and I didn't want to be a hypocrite.
Her coach invited me to try CrossFit. She's a trainer at CrossFitWV. I really was hesitant. I mean, you knew you were out of shape, but you didn't really know how out of shape you were. But I was going to see her every week so I couldn't really hide, and that made me accountable to somebody.
I was in private classes with her for a while before I joined the [group] classes. With my self-confidence, I felt like I could not belong with all these fit, beautiful people. And, actually, that wasn't the case at all. When I joined, they were the biggest support group I could ever have.
I didn't go on a diet. I don't follow a special diet. The only major change is that I increased my protein and eat actual proper portion sizes.
I got down to my goal weight in September, so it was about a year to lose the weight.
People are amazed. I used to walk around with my head down all the time, and now my boss says, "I see it in the way you walk. I see it in your work ethic, just everything. You hold your head up now."
It's a trickle-down effect. There's almost a high, like I can do anything. People will say, "I can't run" or "I can't lift weights." Well, I couldn't either. Now I feel like, I deserve this. I deserve to do something that's good for me. And, actually, I'm a better mom and a better wife than I was before. I'm happier.
Name: Jacob Brown
Weight before: 420 pounds
Weight after: 240 pounds
I was really never bothered by the weight. I was pretty heavy growing up even though I was really active. I just ate a lot, mostly junk food. But what motivated me was sibling rivalry, because my sister had grown up overweight too, and when she went to college, she lost a lot of weight, and I just thought, "If she can do it, I can too."