Name: Ernest Paige
Age: 29
Location: El Paso, Texas
Height: 5’11”
Before: 400 lbs.
After: 234 lbs.

What was the turning point that prompted you to lose weight?

In 2011, I moved from Ohio to Los Angeles. After being there for 18 months, I saw so many people in shape and I was envious. Living in the Midwest, there’s less of an emphasis on fitness and vanity. As a result, I was too comfortable with eating whatever I wanted and doing no physical activity. But then I realized that it was time to taste success by challenging myself physically and mentally.

When did you start trying to lose weight?

On March 10, 2013 I decided to dedicate my life, for the foreseeable future, to losing weight and becoming fit.

How did you get started?

I started the Paleo diet and gave myself zero cheat days. Seven days a week, I maintained my strict diet and did an hour of cardio on the elliptical.

What was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was staying committed. There’s always an excuse to cheat on your diet or take a break, but I didn’t want to waste any time slowing myself down or setting myself back.

Were there any times when you wanted to quit or give up? How did you stay motivated?

There were plenty of times when I wanted to have a cheat meal or take a break, but I told myself that I am stronger than defeat. I told myself that my cravings and fatigue were all mental, and that I must keep going.

If you reached a weight loss plateau, how did you break out of the rut?

The only time my weight plateaued was when I stopped being as strict on my diet as I was in the beginning. After about nine months of strict eating, I started getting lax with my diet and my weight loss wasn’t as dramatic as it had been in previous months. I am a firm believer that anyone who’s overweight cannot plateau as long as their calorie burn exceeds their intake.

What’s your current exercise routine?

I currently do 15 to 30 minutes of running (at a six mph pace), 30 minutes of work on the elliptical (with a 13 resistance/incline setting), and lift weights three to four times per week.

What’s your daily diet look like?

I drink water with lemon juice before my morning workout. After the workout, I have a three-egg omelet with jalapenos, mushrooms, and four pieces of turkey bacon. Lunch is a protein shake with almond milk and water. Dinner is a 6-ounce piece of salmon or 8 ounces of chicken with spinach. Between meals, I snack on almonds and/or apples. I drink almost a gallon of water a day.

What’s your favorite healthy snack and meal?

Roasted almonds are my favorite healthy snack. Baked salmon and spinach is my favorite healthy meal.

How has losing weight changed your life?

As I approach age 30, I am in the best shape of my life. I run faster and farther than I did when I was in high school, when I was 180 pounds and played varsity football. A few years ago I wore a 5XL shirt and size 56 pants. I now wear a XL shirt and size 38 pants. The biggest way it has changed my life, however, is that it has given me confidence. No matter what the obstacle, if I give 100 percent of my effort, I can and will conquer it – no shortcuts or gimmicks.

Do you have any advice for those trying to lose weight?

My advice is to remember that you have complete control over what you put into your body. Unless you have some sort of medical condition that prevents you from losing weight, there is no excuse. Other things in life usually require opportunity or the right set of circumstances. But with weight loss, if you put in the work, you will see the results. Time is not an issue. Lack of knowledge is not an issue. Effort is the issue. Focus on your long term goals and wake up every day with the intention of getting that much closer to them.