Last fall, Adam Garner, 32, hit a low point. He went grocery shopping at his local Walmart in Portage, Indiana and was sweating buckets just walking around the store.
Garner, a stay-at-home dad, weighed 488 pounds and his back was killing him. As he approached the checkout line, a customer stared at him and smirked.
"He was judging the fat guy in the checkout line," Garner recounted. "I realized I was just watching life go by. My kids were growing up and I couldn't do anything with them."
Garner had tried every quick-fix diet scheme out there from patches to weight-loss pills, but none of it helped him keep the weight off long term. He was depressed and spent most of the day sitting on the couch.
This time around, he decided to change his life by simply eating healthy foods and exercising more. In the last year, Garner has lost over 200 pounds and turned his life around. Here are the seven steps he took to make it happen.
1. Start a walking habit.
"My church had started a couch-to-5K program, so I started walking with them," Garner explained. "At first, I could only walk to the stop sign while they ran around the block. I kept at it — I started walking three times a week and my wife joined me."
2. Find a group to hold you accountable.
Thanks to the couch-to-5K group, by Christmas 2015, Garner had lost 60 pounds and his back finally stopped hurting.
Garner also joined a Beachbody program that taught him how to eat healthfully — and how to do it on your own.
3. Establish a fitness routine that's fun.
When Garner first started his weight-loss journey, he tried a fitness DVD and could only do it for a minute before plopping back down on the couch. After he'd lost 60 pounds, as a Christmas present to himself, he bought a dance workout DVD by Shaun T.
"It sounded like fun and it was — I had a blast doing the workouts," Garner said. "I started doing them in my living room with my wife and kids. I even brought the DVD to my church and led a group workout."
The DVDs are short and effective — you learn a dance routine in roughly 40 minutes and then actually perform the routine for the final three or four minutes. Garner and his family have kept up with these dance workouts — today, they're tackling a country line dancing DVD.
4. Change your diet.
"Before, I used to make premade meals, a lot of frozen stuff. Lots of carbs and potatoes," Garner said. "Today, we do a lot of steamed veggies, whole foods and lean meats. I even started making my own spaghetti sauce from scratch!"
Garner typically eats the same thing for breakfast and lunch, but has fun experimenting with new recipes for dinner.
5. Set small goals.
"I set three-week challenges for myself and focused on accomplishing one goal at a time," Garner explained. "I started with wanting to lose 15 pounds, and once I crushed that goal, I'd set another one."
If you become fixated on the scale, a better way to measure your success is by clothing size or measuring your waist or circumference of your arms and legs to track your progress.
6. Realize that you have to put the work in.
"There's no magic pill, you need to change your lifestyle and the way you approach food," Garner advised.
7. You have to motivate yourself.
Garner had a rocky start to his weight-loss journey and was getting flack from his family about the food he was making, but eventually his wife joined him in his efforts. Today, she's lost 77 pounds!
Garner's advice for others trying to lose weight: "Take it one day at a time. And remember that any movement is better than sitting on the couch!"
This summer, Garner and his family took a vacation that he never imagined he could before, because of his size. They visited Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York City, and spent the days walking around to all of the sites — in DC, the family walked 14 miles!
Just this month, Garner and his wife completed their first 5K race!
"I'm making more and more plans. I'm not limited to anything," Garner said. "The weight's gone and we're trying to make the most of life!"