Richard Souto successfully tackled two difficult task: quit smoking and...

Richard Souto successfully tackled two difficult task: quit smoking and lose weight. Although he gained 30 pounds on an already heavy frame, he eventually was able to shed more than 80 pounds, going from 240 pounds to 155 pounds. Credit: Handout ; Rory Glaeseman

HIS STORY It was a gradual creep that took Richard Souto from an athletic high schooler to an overweight adult.

"I grew up playing sports and running track in high school," says Souto, who adds that he started packing on weight in college because of poor eating habits and inactivity. "Fast food, fried food, eating out, sometimes the wheels just come off slowly. Once I started to gain weight, I was trapped in a downward spiral."

He says it was the death of his father that caused him to take a hard look at his life. In addition to being fat, the husband and now father of a 4-month-old daughter smoked nearly a pack a day.

"I decided to stop smoking cold turkey six years ago," says Souto, whose dad died of a heart attack in 2005. "I gained about 20 pounds after I quit smoking. I knew that at 5-foot-8, I shouldn't be carrying 240 pounds. I decided that if I could quit smoking, I could lose weight."

He educated himself about diet and exercise and began eating foods that were beneficial and healthful.

"I had never paid any attention to my weight," Souto says. "I should have, but I didn't. I set some goals for myself and began to focus on my health. Each time I'd hit a plateau, I'd add some different exercise to my routine. I started by walking the dog, then walking on a treadmill, then added the elliptical machine, and so on."

Explains Souto: "I became a trainer because I understand what an overweight person is going through."

DIET After years of skipping breakfast, overindulging at lunch and then ordering poorly for dinner, Souto now pays attention to everything he puts in his body.

He breakfasts on a high-fiber cereal with almond milk, or oatmeal.

Lunch is usually a lean-protein sandwich on whole-wheat bread with low-cal mayo. Dinner typically is grilled chicken, salmon or shrimp, with a grain and steamed vegetables.

"I've gotten good at reading labels," Souto says.

EXERCISE Now a certified personal trainer, Souto exercises daily -- in the gym four days a week, twice weekly on the elliptical at home and a six-mile run every week.

ADVICE "For me, weight loss is a math equation," says Souto, who tells his clients there is no secret formula. "If what you put in your body is fewer calories than you need to maintain yourself, you will lose weight."


Richard Souto

36, Oceanside

Occupation: Real estate agent and personal trainer

Height: 5-foot-8

240 Weight before March 2009

155 Weight after Sept. 5, 2014

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