Who: James Mulry, 63
From: Bay Shore
Occupation: Sales manager
His story: James Mulry of Bay Shore says he was so heavy at one point that he could not bend down to tie his shoelaces or walk the aisles of a supermarket without holding on to a cart for balance. He did not attend a family member's funeral or his godson's 40th birthday because walking would be impossible. He was "carrying a garbage truck on a Volkswagen frame" and on the verge of labeling himself a "Fire Department emergency removal candidate," as he puts it. He called himself "a poster boy for a heart attack" during the winter, shoveling at 15-minute intervals and returning inside during the breaks, removing his gear and allowing his body to recuperate from the cold weather and physical strain.
Mulry was overweight for most of his life and tried everything from taking pills to going on the Atkins diet in pursuit of weight loss. In March 2007, after many failed diets, his physician assistant's sincerity and encouragement motivated him to try Weight Watchers.
His diet: For breakfast, Mulry typically opts for two poached eggs on an English muffin, an omelet with fat-free cheese, or a cereal mixture of corn flakes and Fiber One with raisins and skim milk. A large portion of soup is usually his lunch. For dinner, Mulry eats chicken, pork loin, or a lean beef such as eye-round, with spinach or broccoli and a baked potato. He keeps a food journal every day. "Creating a daily menu and keeping track of food points allows you to be honest with yourself, and it's a cheap enough price to pay to keep yourself healthy and feeling good."
His exercise: Mulry initially looked for small ways to perform physical activity, such as parking farther away from stores in the parking lots. After a year, he started walking longer distances, and now he walks four miles around his neighborhood every morning. He only goes to the gym when the weather is bad, preferring to be outside.
His advice: "We tell ourselves many stories when we have to lose weight," says Mulry, "like, I'm going to start Monday, I'm going to stop eating carbs, I'm just going to eat this and tomorrow I'll behave again. But that 'tomorrow' never seems to come. The most difficult part of losing weight is applying yourself to do it, but you just have to put your foot down. And not by eliminating carbs, popping pills or drinking your meals, but by changing your lifestyle through eating the right foods and in a sensible quantity."