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How I lost 125 pounds: I was going to die young and not be around for my son

Leigh Costa

43, Hamilton

Pounds dropped: 125

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My turning point: In the summer of 2011, I was on a family vacation at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. My son, who was 3 at the time, wanted me to go on a ride with him. The rides were kiddie rides, but were made to fit adults, too. At 300 pounds, I couldn't squeeze onto the ride and my husband had to go on with Julien. It was embarrassing and I felt humiliated, but worse, I'm sure that Julien felt rejected by me. He didn't understand why I couldn't go on the ride with him.

I was on two different blood-pressure medications and my joints and feet hurt. I was slow and completely sedentary. It hurt for me to walk up the stairs. Needless to say, I did very little with my son because he was an active three-year-old and I couldn't keep up with him. I knew that my weight issues were not fair to him and I was watching him grow up instead of being an active part of his childhood. Since my eating behaviours were affecting his quality of life, I had to get healthy so that I could be the mother he deserved.

My method: I made an appointment with my family doctor and we talked about my weight-loss options – he referred me to a metabolic weight-loss clinic, and for the first time in my life, the doctor there spoke to me with no filter about my obesity. He laid it all out on the line: I was going to die young, and not be around for my son.

I left the appointment and made the commitment to follow the diet for two weeks. I figured I could do anything for two weeks.

I was permitted to eat unlimited protein, leafy greens and four cups of vegetables that grow above ground – before I knew it, six months had passed and I was down 60 pounds. I started to plateau, so I began an introductory running clinic to help kick-start things again. Once that clinic finished, I enrolled in a five-kilometre race, and continued on getting myself up to a regular 12-km distance – and even becoming a running instructor myself.

I transitioned to the paleo diet – lean protein, vegetables, fruits and nuts. It's simple and structured, and keeps me on the right track. It's all worth it: Getting healthy and fit was the best thing I could have done for myself, my son, my quality of life. I am still amazed every morning when I wake up that I am living in the body I have now.

My kryptonite: I can't eat anything in moderation: I follow a strict diet so I'm in control of my eating. That said, I do enjoy red wine on the weekends, with mixed nuts and some fruit.

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This interview has been condensed and edited.

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