Daniel Kelly: 'Now I'm not just existing, I'm living'

Daniel Kelly, a 41-year-old from Nesconset, lost more

Daniel Kelly, a 41-year-old from Nesconset, lost more than half his body weight in one year. He now weighs 220 pounds. (Credit: Newsday.com composite)

Who: Daniel Kelly, 41
Town: Nesconset
Occupation: Mail carrier

Height: 6'2"
Weight before: 500 (Feb. 2008)
Weight after: 220 (March 2009)

His Story: Daniel Kelly remembers exactly when he decided to lose weight -- Feb. 3, 2008, during Super Bowl XLII, which he was watching at his brother's house. "I was sitting on his couch leaning forward to put a drink on the table and his couch broke," Kelly said. As the center beam cracked, "you could hear it," a moment that was "literally" his breaking point.


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"I knew for health reasons that I had to make a change," Kelly said, and for him, surgery wasn't an option. He spent one week thinking about dieting, went for a final pre-diet meal at Buffalo Wild Wings, and on Monday, Feb. 11, everything changed.

What he eats: Before he started his diet, Kelly's meals were all about convenience. In the morning he'd drive through McDonald's or pick up pizza, candy or cookies from a coffee truck, he said. He ate fast food throughout the day, Burger King on the way home, then a full dinner later, often pizza or takeout Chinese. He also drank sugary sodas all day long.

Once he decided to make a change, he went the drastic route, cutting out white flour, pasta, sugar, nondiet soda and even fruit. No one advised him on his approach and he did not see a physician, he said.

For seven months, every meal of every day was the same: One cup of Fiber One cereal with fat-free milk for breakfast, turkey on whole wheat double fiber bread for lunch, a protein bar as a snack and two grilled chicken breasts, one cup of brown rice and a salad of romaine, onions and homemade dressing for dinner. On Saturdays he treated himself to Chinese food - chicken with cashew nuts, shrimp and some brown rice. During this time he dropped to 307 pounds.

When his weight leveled, he cut Chinese food, brown rice and traded in the cereal for four egg whites.

Now that he's reached his goal weight, Kelly has increased his daily caloric intake and added back in fruit and healthy carbohydrates. He is working to build muscle. He takes multivitamins and omega 3 fish oil every day.

Workouts: A year ago this month, Kelly had his first workout - two minutes pedaling on a recumbent bike and nine minutes walking on a treadmill. Each day he added a few minutes of cardio until he reached an hour a day, six days per week, at which point he started increasing resistance. Today he continues exercising six days a week, working towards building strength and muscle.

Final thoughts: Kelly considers himself a changed man, as do others. "On a lot of occasions, people don't recognize me," he said. But he finds how his transformation makes him feel difficult to put into words. "Unless you've been in the shoes of the obese, it's hard to explain," Kelly said. "It's like you're free."

Kelly urges others who need to lose a large amount of weight to take control of their lives and start making the right decisions for their health. "I'm nothing special," he said. "If you put your mind to it, you can do it."

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