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How we lost 155 pounds: 'I was never unhappy because I was fat; I was fat because I was unhappy'

Lorna and Steven Poole had different strategies for their weight loss. She took a slow and steady approach, while he took a more drastic technique.


Steven and Lorna Poole

Both 53, Port Credit, Ont.

Pounds dropped: 70 and 85

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Married for more than 30 years, this couple embarked on a weight-loss journey together, losing a combined 155 pounds in five years – and wanted to share how they lost it as a team.

My turning point:

Lorna: Moving to Calgary and, despite believing myself to be an active, fit person, I found hiking in the mountains to be very, very difficult. The mountains drew me there, and I couldn't experience them – this was an eye-opener. I wanted to be a much more fit and healthier 44-year-old!

Steven: When a nurse took my blood pressure and I saw that it was 210/185 after a particularly stressful workday. This was my wake-up call to end all wake-up calls. I was 47-years-old and on a seriously slippery slope.

Our Method:

Lorna: I simply started to eliminate one bad food choice a week with the intent of never going back to the eliminated food. I also wore a pedometer to get in 10,000 steps a day. I lost 40 pounds the first year and plateaued for almost two years until Steven joined me.

Walking was great, but took too long to get enough done, so I added running to the mix. I also started practising yoga – finding some inner peace there for the first time in my life.

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A big reason for my success is fully understanding and appreciating a couple of key points: Exercise does not burn off nearly as many calories as you desperately want to believe it does, and my daily caloric-intake requirement is much smaller than I want it to be.

Most importantly, I learned that I was never unhappy because I was fat; I was fat because I was unhappy. Getting my head screwed on a little tighter through therapy and coaching was a key thread through the whole five-year weight-loss process.

Steven: The day after the nurse's visit I started to routinely eat breakfast for the first time in my adult life – bran fibre with almonds, raisins and skim milk. That's the most important thing I did. I gave up all junk and fatty foods immediately and limited my sodium intake drastically. I started taking a salad for lunch and all but eliminated red meat from my diet. I joined Lorna on a nightly five-kilometre walk and took up cycling. My blood pressure returned to normal within three months. I did the whole diet and exercise thing absolutely cold turkey – quite different from Lorna's slow and steady approach.

Together: We both read some key books that helped us form a new way of looking at food – Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and Dr. David Kessler's The End of Overeating. These books transformed the way we looked at food and, as a result, we buy much smaller quantities of higher quality food. We assiduously read labels and avoid any product that contains a chemical label. Despite what people believe, we spend much less on our healthy diet than we did on the diet that was killing us. We now look at the foods that comprised 90 per cent of our previous diet as poison.

Our kryptonite:

For both of us, it's potato chips. We don't have them very often – maybe three times a year. We never buy them – 'cause that would be dangerous! – but, if we're at a party and they're sitting out, it's game over. Eventually you'll find us both hovering near the bowl and eating far more than our share!

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