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How I lost it: So long empty calories, hello gym

Swantje Voelker exercises at Kalev Fitness Solution in Vancouver, Aug. 29, 2012. for The Globe and Mail

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

A new weekly series showcases inspirational stories from readers who transformed their sedentary lifestyle and shed excess pounds. Have your own extraordinary weight-loss story to share? Tell us how you lost it: tgam.ca/weightloss.

Craig Fisher, 27, Winnipeg

Pounds dropped: 110

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"Imagine my surprise when I realized that I, the fat kid since forever, was capable of real athletic exertion. My surprise continues to this day."

My turning point: When I realized that I couldn't fit into Wal-Mart's largest pant size any longer (let's face it, Wal-Mart doesn't have the skinniest customers).

My method: I adopted a vegetable-heavy, low-fat vegan diet (though I do have meat and cheese once in a while) and began to exercise regularly: running, weights, and later cross-training.

My kryptonite: Imperial cookies – two dense shortbread layers with vanilla icing on top and jam in the middle. Freshly made they're to die for.

Swan Voelker, 31, Vancouver

Pounds dropped: 23

"My first pair of skinny jeans – what a feeling."

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My turning point: The first grey hair, upcoming 30th birthday, New Year's 2011. I thought, if I don't get into shape now, I never will.

My method: Joined a gym, got a personal trainer three times a week for an hour for three months. Now down to two half-hours a month. I used fitday.com. Keeping track of what you eat and how much was the most effective tool . It really opened my eyes.

My kryptonite: TV is my vice. Crappy shows that steal my time. TV keeps me from being active. Even worse is the PVR thing – TV all the time! Am moving to a place without a TV this week.

Interviews have been condensed and edited.

Have your own extraordinary weight-loss story to share?

Tell us how you lost it: tgam.ca/weightloss

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