Bonita Reid, 57, is a registered nurse who used to love riding horses. But after having two babies, she slowly began gaining weight. "At 333, I had given up any things I liked to do. Hiking, horseback riding, biking, to name a few. It was embarrassing to travel and have to get a seat belt extender," Reid said.
"I was handicapped by the weight. I knew if i didn't do something I would be in a wheelchair or dead."
But in June of 2012, she decided it was time to make a change. Reid's daughter is a volunteer firefighter who wanted her mother to also get involved in that line of work. After she lost the first 60 pounds, that is exactly what she did.
After 26 months, Reid had lost 183 pounds. She does have to commit to waking up at 3:45 a.m. to get in her half-hour of cardio and half-hour of weightlifting, "but then it's done and out of the way," she said. Now, she hikes, walks her dogs, rides horses daily and takes the stairs at work — two at a time.
"I am treated with more respect by everyone. I sleep better," she said. "Every aspect of my life is better.
" When I am asked how I did it, (I say) perseverance, determination and accountability to myself,' Reid said. "I have a new life now. One I deserve and will fight to keep!"
Mina Makram was born and raised in Cairo, and said he was always the chubby kid, but it was during college, buried in study and work, that he really gained weight.
"I'd forget to eat and skip (the) majority of the meals," Makram said. "What ended up happening is that I'd get so hungry and eat whatever was convenient."
Exercise was difficult at his size.
"By the time I walked for 10 minutes, I was drenched in sweat, tired and downright hating myself. It severely affected my self-confidence. I decided to buy a bike to commute around campus," he said, "Thing is, I never learned how to ride a bike growing up."
He went to the local bike shop, and when the salesperson asked him to test a bike out, he refused. Instead he went home and continued practicing until he learned. After getting the hang of it, Makram decided to take the bike out on a trail.
"I couldn't go for more than half a mile and had to walk the bike back to the car in shame. That was my turning point," he said. "Next day, I went to the gym and bought a membership. That was February 2011."
"My initial goal was to feel comfortable enough on the bike. On the weekends I would test my biking limits. (A) few months in, I was able to bike further and further. Then, my goal changed from biking comfortably to wanting to lose half my body weight."
Makram lost 195 pounds and is now 205, and remains a dedicated biker.