Paul Spreer’s weight history is a series of steep ups and downs. Active in sports, he weighed 240 pounds in his senior year of high school but dropped to 180 pounds before heading to college.

He kept the weight off for four years. “After graduation I slowly put weight on and hit my all-time weight high of nearly 400 pounds the summer of 1998. That coincided with a diabetes diagnosis after I passed out on my front lawn. My sugar level was off the charts along with other indicators I hadn’t been paying attention to,” says Spreer.

Knowing his family’s history of diabetes (two relatives died from diabetes-related conditions), Spreer went on a crash diet and again got down to 180 pounds, but knew it wasn’t sustainable. “I worked hard to get the weight off but not how to maintain it,” says Spreer. Again, he gradually gained the weight back.

In January 2016, he was 51 and weighed 310 pounds. Watching family members leading inactive lifestyles, Spreer says he saw a preview of the rest of his life and became determined to change it.

Already an early riser, Spreer started a routine of getting on his treadmill by 4 a.m., cutting back on carbs and following a protein-rich diet. He had already eliminated alcohol to help his diabetes.

“I pursued better cooking, eating, and exercise habits in a sensible and sustainable way, not looking at it like a burden.” Spreer says he no longer has to wear an insulin pump, though he still injects insulin twice daily. “I am saving several thousand dollars a year in medication costs. I feel amazing and can buy clothes off the rack again,” he adds.

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Breakfast is usually an egg-white wrap with turkey and Swiss cheese along with a banana and a cup of tea. Lunch is a fist-size portion of a protein like turkey, chicken or pork and a serving of avocado, fruit or nuts. Dinner can be chicken and a salad, pork loin with sweet potatoes or steak with grilled asparagus.

Spreer walks four miles five to six days a week.

“Make changes you can sustain. Figure out what works for you. Don’t eat foods you don’t enjoy. . . . If you gain weight, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on the program. And support from family, friends and colleagues is important.”