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Susan Hanks Lost 118 Pounds with the Help of a Caring Personal Trainer and Flat-Out Determination!

Susan Hanks is the reason this True Weight Loss segment makes my heart happy. At one point, her weight exceeded 500 pounds. Instead of turning to fad diets or pills, she just dug deep and swapped bad habits for good ones. She admits it’s been a mental struggle, and she couldn’t have done it without the help of her fabulous personal trainer.

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Now, 118 pounds down, this courageous woman knows how to lose weight and stay healthy, she just has to stay the course. “I take it one meal at a time,” she said.

Food was my comfort.

It’s a sentiment we hear so many times at DIR. People turn to food for celebration, comfort, boredom, and it’s rarely bell peppers that they’re mindlessly munching.  ”I ate all the time, bad food was better, and I never ate healthy,” Susan admitted. “I was miserable. I had no friends and low self esteem. I knew I was eating myself to death. Finally I realized I wanted more out of life. I was tired of just existing.”


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Deb Arneson-Suarez Lost Almost 100 Pounds When She Said, “No More Excuses.”

Almost two years ago, Deb Arneson-Suarez saw a new Planet Fitness gym in her neighborhood. She took this literal sign as a figurative sign that it was time! Time to get healthy and lose the weight that had been with her for as long as she could remember. Now, down almost 100 pounds, she credits her competitive nature for keeping her on the path to her goal.

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Deb says by the time she was in the 5th grade she was already familiar with commercial weight loss programs and restrictive diets but for her, the very idea of restriction, always set her up to fail. In her twenties, Deb says “drinking and other bad lifestyle choices” contributed to her weight gain. Sadly, when she realized it was time to get clean and sober, she gained even more.

When Deb saw the “open 24 hours” logo at Planet Fitness, she knew there would be no more excuses for not treating herself better. “The city metro bus stop I used to go to work and come home was right in front of the gym,” she said. “I was sick of feeling tired, sick and miserable. I wanted to be healthy – truly healthy.”

She knew that losing weight would have to be a two-fold approach so she started going to the gym every night after work – even if it was only for 30 minutes at a time – and then adopted a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle. “I used the internet like crazy,” she explained. “If I craved something chocolate (like brownies) I would research healthier options like flourless black bean brownies. Yum!”
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With a 90 Pound Weight Loss, Brigette Underwood is About to Hit ‘Onederland.’

I’m just throwing it out there, I adore Brigette Underwood. Today’s true weight loss story comes to us from deep in the heart of Mississippi. This southern girl knows her food triggers (fried chicken), but now instead of yo-yo dieting, she’s finding balance and a healthier relationship with food than she’s ever had before. Look at that smile. I want to sit and sip on some sweet tea with you, girl.

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More from Brigette in her own words.

Tell me when your weight struggles began. I distinctly remember in 3rd grade a boy asking if I had a baby in my tummy. I was always bigger than my friends. I never felt pretty or accepted because of my weight. I would go through phases of crash dieting and starving myself but obviously none of that worked. I had a very unhealthy relationship with food.

What caused you to realize you needed to change? I realized I needed to change when I had a physical done before I started nursing school. My blood pressure was 150/91, the highest it had ever been, and I weighed a whopping 254lbs. How did I let myself get to that point? I don’t really know. But I knew I needed to change or I was going to have major health problems and I was only 19 years old.

How did you lose the weight? I started by simply down sizing my portions. I wasn’t necessarily eating better but I was eating less. Then one day I decided to join a gym and I fell in love with working out! What a great stress relief from nursing school. The more I worked out the better I wanted to eat. The better I ate, the better I felt.


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Mike Matteson Lost 279 Pounds Without Surgery. “I used Diet, Exercise and a Lot of Blood, Sweat and Tears.”

Mike Matteson admits, “I had every bad habit you can think of that contributed to my weight gain.” At 503 pounds, Mike says he often laid down to eat. Now, this bodybuilder, yes, I said bodybuilder, has lost an amazing 279 pounds. His success was hard won, and his story is one of the most inspirational I’ve read in a long time.

I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t overweight.

Over the years, Mike says he has dealt with “just about every uncomfortable thing that an obese person has to deal with.” From the bullying of classmates, to finding a seat belt that would fit across his midsection, Mike lived in a body that he never felt good about, and admittedly, didn’t take care of.

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Mike revealed that processed/junk and fast food were his diet staples. He never cooked, and says 90% of his meals were served by a waitress or through a drive-up window. Exercise, he admits, was nonexistent. “I was probably the laziest person you could ever meet,” he said.

I would wake up numerous times through the night gasping for breath.

Finally, Mike says the cumbersome weight of his body, the lack of sleep due to worsening apnea, and the warning by his doctor that he was pre-diabetic and would have to be placed on blood pressure medication finally culminated in the realization that he was in serious trouble. “I lived my life in bed,” he explained. “I knew if I didn’t do something that’s exactly where I would die.”

I lost the weight the good old fashioned way, with diet, exercise, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears!

At 503 pounds, Mike knew exercise would be a challenge. He started by walking to the end of his driveway and back again. Eventually, he was able to walk around the block. After one year, even though he hadn’t changed his diet, his increased activity helped him lose 100 pounds.


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Sara Kolling Lost 85 Pounds After Leaving an Abusive Relationship

If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship, you know how it drains you of your spirit and self-esteem. Today, our true weight loss story focuses on Sara Kolling, a woman who had the courage to leave her abuser and for the first time in a long time, devote herself to her own well being. After losing 85 pounds, Sara feels stronger than she has in years, in more ways than one.

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Though Sara admits she was always the girl who was picked on and teased in school about her weight, she acknowledges that the pounds really started to pack on during the first year of her marriage. Once the abuse began, Sara became an emotional eater and says she just ate, “no matter what.” After three years, Sara finally sought a divorce.

The first thing I changed was no more diet soda, and no more eating after seven p.m.

On her own again, Sara finally got serious about wanting to lose weight when she got tired of her clothes being too tight, not being able to keep up with the students she worked with, and feeling like she couldn’t do even the simplest workout routine. She started by eliminating all the sugary, processed and junk food from her diet. The book, The Eat Clean Diet, by Tosca Reno was her first guide.


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