Final Impressions

Successful loser

Written by James Combs

Here’s how I downsized a supersized body.


Obese people cringe at the thought of being lectured about their weight by a horizontally challenged cohort.

It’s akin to Saddam Hussein lecturing about human rights, Madonna lecturing about sexual abstinence, or Casey Anthony lecturing about the joys of motherhood.

Fortunately, I’m not here to lecture.

I’m here to inspire.

In late May, I completed the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Wellness Challenge. During the three-month competition, I shed 37 pounds and lost 4 percent body fat.

This was no easy feat, especially since I’ve endured a lifelong battle with nonstop hunger hormones. My methods of losing weight were straightforward. I junked the junk food—or, in other words, all the food loaded with fat, salt, and sugar that tastes so bloody good—in favor of a high-protein, low-carb diet. On mornings of weigh-ins, I programmed my worst enemy—the alarm clock—to wake me at 6am so I could go on a four-mile walk. I also replaced my go-to soda, Dr. Pepper, and my go-to beer, Bud Light, with a less tasty and less intoxicating beverage called water.

Overall, I’m damn proud. And I should be. It’s quite an accomplishment for someone whose previous life was like a box of chocolates…and a box of doughnuts and cookies. Hell, my photograph graces the wall of Eduardo’s Lokos Tacos in Tavares for being one of the few people to successfully consume a 6-pound burrito in under 25 minutes. I couldn’t pull through the McDonald’s drive-thru without uttering the word “supersize,” and local waitresses recognized me as the guy who always ordered his cheeseburgers triple-sized.

I’ve been lucky to escape diabetes and heart disease. That doesn’t mean my unhealthy eating habits haven’t left a path of destruction. Sadly, most of my recliners had short life spans because the frames simply couldn’t hold up to my own 300-pound frame.

All of that is in the past. At least, I hope. As I write this, it has been 48 hours since my final weigh-in for the competition. So far, I’ve avoided celebrating my weight-loss success with a 6-pound victory burrito. Also, I haven’t rewarded myself with a large pepperoni pizza, although I must confess that half a dozen local pizza venues remain on speed dial.

To avoid a possible setback, I conducted a little internet research to assist me with coming up with appropriate names and ideas for weekday meals. “Mexican Monday” will now be “Meatless Monday,” “Whopper Wednesday” will now be “Whole Wheat Wednesday,” and “Twinkie Thursday” will now be “Tilapia Thursday.” I still need to come up with meal plans for Tuesdays and Fridays, but I promise Ruby Tuesday and TGI Fridays won’t factor into the equation.

To all my well-fed friends, if I can lose weight, I promise you can, too. It’s a long, winding road filled with detours, but the journey is well worth it.

In six months, I’ll use this space to provide an update on my progress.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for next month’s column on the dangers of drug use.

Unless, of course, you’d rather hear it from Charlie Sheen.

About the author

James Combs

Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County’s many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!

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