Weight before: 260 (May 1993)
Weight after: 200 (June 2003-present)
His story: Thomas Leli's life was changed by a key chain. When Leli was 20, he went to the Suffolk County Fair with his girlfriend. They posed for a photo that was put on a key chain. "My girlfriend looked and said, 'We look good,' " Leli said. "She handed it to me. I had a purple shirt on, and I could have done a McDonald's commercial." His fast-food diet and regular alcohol use had caused him to gain 60 pounds in four months.
Following the "key chain trauma," Leli starved himself on an extreme low-calorie diet. In six months he dropped from 260 to 215 pounds. But the weight came back once he began to eat "normally'' again.
He now has a different food intake.
What he eats: For breakfast, Leli eats four egg whites combined with one whole egg, a slice of 2-percent-fat cheese and two slices of whole-grain toast. Lunch is typically chicken or fish with vegetables and brown rice. Leli snacks on protein shakes, almonds and protein bars. Dinner is usually chicken, lean red meat or fish, and green beans, brown rice or sweet potato.
His workouts: Leli hits the gym four days a week with a workout that combines cardio and weight lifting. In addition to traditional techniques, such as squats, dead lifts, jumping rope and kettle bells, Leli also flips giant tires, drags weighted sleds and beats tires with sledgehammers.
His advice: Keep yourself consistent by honestly filling out a food diary. Cardio alone won't cut it; the muscle you gain from weight training gives you that crucial metabolism jolt.
"The benefits I've experienced are endless," said Leli, who's now a personal trainer. "It's true about a picture being worth a thousand words."