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May 14, 2014 by APRIL McCARTHY
Justin And Lauren Shelton Lost More Than 500 Pounds Together

When Justin and Lauren Shelton realized they had reached crisis levels in their weight gain, they came to the realization that they needed to change, but it took something drastic to really motivate them. Here's how they did it.

Name: Justin and Lauren Shelton
Age: Justin: 27, Lauren: 26
Height: Justin: 6'0", Lauren: 5'5”
Before Weight: Justin: 592 pounds, Lauren: 341 pounds
After Weight: Justin: 245 pounds, Lauren: 164 pounds

How I Gained It:
Justin: I started gaining weight after a sports injury toward the end of middle school that prevented me from staying active. From there, I just continued to gain until it snowballed out of control.

Lauren: I have always been such an emotional eater. I turned to food for comfort, whether it was happiness, sadness, anger, stress or excitement that I was feeling. However, I started gaining weight rapidly my freshman year of high school after going through some personal issues. Over the years it continued to pile on until I reached 341 pounds. Eventually, we just accepted that we were overweight and stopped caring.

Breaking Point: Both of us have undergone several different moments when we realized just how overweight we were and needed to change, but it took something drastic to really motivate us.

Justin: I had to visit the emergency room in December 2011. I was too heavy for the equipment needed to test whether or not I had a kidney infection. They just had to guess and gave me a high dosage of antibiotics before sending me home. That was the wakeup call that I needed. I knew from that point on that I was tired of being overweight and would rather die trying to get healthy than spend another moment being miserable with myself.

Lauren: His trip to the ER was a wakeup call for me as well, because I saw how embarrassed and miserable he really was with himself. That made me take a hard look at myself and realize that I needed to lose the weight just as much as -- or more than -- he did.

How I Lost It: In February 2012, we looked to a physician assistant named Lynn at a local medical center. She gave us some great guidelines to start with. That night we cleaned out our cupboards and started from scratch the next day at the store. We cut out salt, breads, grains, oils, sauces and high-fat meats. We began eating a high-protein diet with lean meats and a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. We only ate out on very rare occasions; I can count on two hands how often we have eaten out in two years!

We started small with exercise, but slowly started to increase it. Now we go to the gym, on average, six days a week and try to do something fun and active in the evenings and on our day off. Also, we knew we always had each other at our best and worst of times through this journey. It would have been so much harder without each other's support.

Our overall quality of life is better, and we can do so much more than we could before. We have learned to appreciate the little things that many people would never even think of: We can shop at normal clothing stores, buckle our seat belts on airplanes, sit in normal chairs and ride roller coasters. We are even trying activities that we were always too scared to do. Instead of our days being focused around where and what we are going to eat, we focus on how to stay active. It feels as though we have been given a second chance at life, one that we can look forward to each day and enjoy to the fullest! Although we are not quite finished, we feel happy with ourselves and what adventures may lie ahead of us!

The most important lesson we can all learn from the Sheltons is that weight loss is a unique journey and requires support from others. It's not necessarily about listening to all the weight loss and diet gurus, but doing what works best for you with a support system that facilitates your success.


April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.

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