A lot of times you’ll hear weight-loss advice that recommends small, incremental changes, like “add one more serving of veggies a day,” “swap water for sugary drinks” or “park in the back of the lot.” Lexi and Danny Reed upended that advice. Together, they agreed on a five-part, total-reset New Year’s resolution in 2016:
“It wasn’t just a diet, it was a total lifestyle change,” Lexi says. They agreed to stick with their resolution for a month. They ended up sticking with it for good and have lost more than 400 pounds combined.
“I had a click moment,” Danny says. “I was hiking with some friends and I was behind. They kept looking back and saying, ‘Are you OK back there? Are you keeping up?’ I was trying to. That moment really stuck in my head. It was a big reason I wanted to change.”
Lexi says, for her, weight control has been a lifelong struggle. “I’ve been overweight my whole life. I tried to do Weight Watchers and LA Weight Loss but if I lost weight I just gained it back,” she says.
She would often skip breakfast, then have a huge lunch. On the days she did eat breakfast, she would grab a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit, hash browns and a large Coke at McDonalds.
Danny says that when he was younger and active, playing sports and skateboarding, he was able to maintain a healthy weight. “Once I stopped doing those things I started putting on weight,” he says. And after he and Lexi got comfortable in their relationship he put on more pounds.
Before New Year’s Day 2016 the couple spent most evenings on the couch, binge-watching Netflix, ordering pizza, drinking soda and eating junk food. “We were just sitting, watching TV, not taking care of ourselves. We were this 765-pound couple,” Lexi says.
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For Lexi’s job at a law firm, she helped people get Social Security disability benefits. “I would listen to people talking about their diabetes, their heart problems, their neuropathy, and I realized if I didn’t take care of myself I’d be the person calling in,” she says.
While she wasn’t diagnosed with any health problems related to her weight, she concedes that she didn’t go to the doctor very often. “I had a lot of joint pain and I struggled to breathe,” she acknowledges.
“Starting out wasn’t easy. When your body is used to doing the same thing over and over you become a creature of habit. I think it’s better to shock your body and do everything completely differently than to make slow changes,” Danny says.
Lexi concedes that their changes were hard at first. “The hardest of all of it was changing our relationship to food. We had to learn to eat to live, not live to eat, day by day,” she says. “Having each other as a buddy system kept us accountable. On days we didn’t want to change we had each other. We started to see progress, and that made us want to push more.”
Danny agrees: “We both realized we needed to lose weight and to get healthy for our future. We fell in love with taking care of ourselves and working out, and the positive effects that came with that. We’re seeing results,” he says.
The couple looked for ways to make fun, healthy versions of the foods they liked. “We try to eat more protein and lots of vegetable and less carbs, though we do eat carbs,” she says. They focus their meals on protein sources like lean meats, chicken, turkey and salmon as well as vegetables like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and broccoli. They choose whole-wheat bread and will make pizza on a tortilla rather than having a stuffed crust. Instead of Taco Bell, they make a healthy taco salad at home, without the shell.
“It wasn’t easy to stop drinking soda but now I prefer water over soda. I didn’t drink any soda for three months and when I did, it tasted really sugary, syrupy and a lot different,” Danny says.
Lexi and Danny's Typical Meals
Breakfast: Eggs with turkey sausage or bacon or sometimes regular bacon
They’ve built a routine of going to the gym together six times a week. Danny does a cardio workout for 20 to 30 minutes, followed by weight training.
Lexi started with the elliptical. “At 485 [pounds] I was probably over the weight limit for the machine,” she says. She stuck with it for 30 minutes, five times a week. “I was so determined to change. It was hard. I wasn’t fast, but I got 30 minutes done and every time I went back I challenged myself to beat my time. I got faster and stronger.”
Along with an occasional elliptical workout, she goes to a Zumba class two or three times a week and uses the stair climber and the weights at the gym. “I do so many different workouts now. I don’t do the same thing every day. If I find myself plateauing, I switch it up,” she says.
She concedes that she was self-conscious about going to the gym at first. “But I knew I had to change for me. If people were going to stare I was going to be the hardest-working person in the room. And having Danny there made me more confident — I wasn’t walking in that first day alone.”
Weighing 173 pounds now, her goal is 160 pounds. “I’d like to lose more but to me this is small; I’ve never been this small in my life,” she says.
Danny would like to see his weight drop to 180 so he can claim a 100-pound weight loss. He thinks an ultimate goal weight for him might be in the 170- to 175-pound range.
Lexi wanted a way to build accountability, so she started an Instagram account at the advice of a colleague. “I thought maybe I’d have 10 Instagram followers. I started it because I didn’t want to annoy all of my Facebook friends with my posts,” she says.
“It’s crazy. I didn’t expect to be noticed,” she says. “But it’s been really cool for Danny and I to be able to share our story. If we can help inspire somebody that’s what we want to do. We’re just small-town Indiana people going with the flow.”
It’s not about the weight you lose, it’s about the life you gain.
Lexi quickly lists a bunch of things she can do now. Easily fly in an airplane. Ride in a roller coaster. Drive a car without her stomach touching the steering wheel. Put on shoes and socks without struggling. Go kayaking and canoeing.
“I can do all these activities with my husband. Before we just sat on the couch. I could hardly walk a block or climb a flight of stairs without being out of breath. Now we’re experiencing all these new things. This is a whole new life,” she says.
Danny doesn’t have any trouble keeping up with his hiking buddies these days, and he can ride his mountain bike for long stretches. “Everything is better and easier,” he says.
Part of the inspiration for their weight loss was the desire to be parents in the future, and they plan to add to their family in a year or so. For now, they’re working on their summer bucket list of things they couldn’t do easily before. They plan to travel within and outside the United States and to visit theme parks. “We got kicked off a roller coaster on one of our first dates,” Lexi says. They might even try bungee jumping and skydiving. “It’s not about the weight you lose, it’s about the life you gain,” Lexi says.