Everyday Atlantans share how they shed the weight and adopted a healthier lifestyle.
We’ve all seen those crazy ads touting rock-hard abs and major weight loss in just a few weeks. But for most people, the road to weight loss is a slow, difficult and often up-and-down process. Instead of showing unattainable bodies or promoting quick fixes, we wanted to celebrate these real Atlantans who have embarked on a weight loss journey inspired by their family, friends or themselves. While many of those featured here will admit they still have work to do, they‘ve all stopped treating weight loss like a race to the finish and have instead cultivated a healthy lifestyle that works for them. And that has made all the difference.
Frank Pologruto, 100+ Pounds Down
Little Changes, Big Difference
At 51 years old, entrepreneur Frank Pologruto had a big problem—one that started with his morning country breakfast and ended with his expanding waistline. At over 300 pounds and at risk for a heart attack, the loving father decided it was time to take a serious look in the mirror and at his diet. With a busy schedule as an outdoor living contractor, Pologruto started small by cutting out foods here and there. But soon, his changes snowballed into something bigger, with over 100 pounds lost and so much energy gained. Now Pologruto looks forward to inspiring others with his story and helping pay it forward.
How did you get started on your healthy eating journey?
I just focused on doing one thing at a time. The first thing that I cut out was the big country breakfast I was eating every morning and replaced it with a lighter breakfast sandwich. After that, I cut out the donuts and then soda. I have also made an effort to limit the amount of high fructose corn syrup in my diet and to drink at least three liters of water a day.
What are your go-to foods now?
I will always love a good steak, and the Fancy Nancy sandwich at Chicken Salad Chick is my favorite for lunch. I think you can eat almost anything in moderation and at the right times. Between client meetings and checking up on jobs, I used to eat dinner at 9 or 10 at night. Now I make an effort to eat my dinner between 3 and 6pm and only snack on fruits or vegetables in between.
What’s your advice for those looking to make a change?
Take it one day and one thing at a time. My diet change was a slow process but an important one. Instead of trying to go cold turkey on everything all at once, it was much easier to slowly thin out the things I didn’t need. It’s all the little things that really matter. You change one, then another. I would lose some weight, and then I would plateau, so I would reassess and decide what else I could cut out.
Emily McAlpine, 60+ Pounds Down
High-Intensity Training for a High-Intensity Hike
Like many people, Emily McAlpine discovered new passions during the Covid shutdown. Her favorite? Hiking. Short walks turned into small hikes, which grew into a dream to hike the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail with her dad. But to accomplish this daunting feat, the 25-year-old knew she would need to get in mountain-scaling shape. That’s when, almost two years ago, she discovered high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at Orangetheory Fitness in Woodstock. Since then, she has lost over 60 pounds, hiked the Georgia section of the trail in May 2021 and isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
Why do you think HIIT at Orangetheory Fitness worked for you?
I have been a part of several gyms and could never get myself to actually go, so accountability is a big thing for me. From the coaches who get to know you and your abilities (shoutout to my favorite coach, Colton) to your classmates who always push you to run faster and lift heavier, everyone is always in your corner cheering you on. Since joining, the workouts have become somewhat of an obsession of mine. It’s my favorite place to go four to five times a week.
Outside of Orangetheory, what are some other things you did to get in shape?
I am a big proponent of walking and go on several walks a day with my dog, Stark. I love heading out to the park with him and my nephew Hayes. I also ditched the fad diets and have just focused on eating healthy food that fuels me. I try to drink a gallon of water a day, and I am a big fan of overnight oats. The higher the protein, the better.
What are some things you hope to accomplish now that you are healthier?
I look forward to hiking the rest of the Appalachian Trail with my father. Also, since joining Orangetheory, I have developed a love for running and look forward to doing a marathon either this year or next. I hope to get my sister on board to join me and share my love of running and fitness with her.
An Unexpected Epiphany
There are big moments in life that every parent dreams about being there for. For Fred Adkins, it was his daughter Charlotte’s high school graduation. But at 46 years old and 370 pounds, Adkins’ health was getting in the way of his dreams. After unsuccessfully trying several fad diets, the creative agency director found something that worked in an unlikely place— Tik-Tok. After seeing a personal trainer (@spirtualgrowthguy) post about the benefits of intermittent fasting, Adkins gave the popular method a shot, and for the first time, the pounds have come off and stayed off.
What is intermittent fasting, and how has it changed your diet?
The most popular kind of intermittent fasting involves eating all of your food in an eight-hour window. I’m not a big breakfast guy, so I thought, I can do this, just eating from noon to 8pm. The first couple of weeks, I got dizzy in the morning, but then suddenly, even before the weight came off, I had so much energy. After that, every day I was down one or two pounds. At first, I ate whatever I wanted, however much I wanted. But now that I have more energy and don’t feel as hungry, I find myself gravitating towards healthier options, like switching out my chips for fruit or vegetables.
Mind Over Matter
After realizing she was still carrying around her baby weight two years after giving birth to her son, Naomi Gasson knew she couldn’t simply count calories; she needed a total mindset change. So she and her husband embarked on the 75 Hard Challenge by Andy Frisella and are now happier, healthier and more than 35 pounds down each. Her favorite change, though, is the healthy lifestyle her family now lives. Whether hiking or doing yoga, her children are now inspired to live an active lifestyle just like mom.
What is the 75 Hard Challenge, and how has it changed your life?
It is a daily mental toughness challenge for 75 days and includes doing the following daily: two 45-minute workouts (one has to be outdoors), follow a diet (we tracked our macros), no alcohol, read 10 pages of a nonfiction book, take a progress photo and no cheat meals. If you fail any activity, you have to start the program again. The idea behind the program is to teach you about consistency and that the smallest of things matter. You need to change your mind from “I want to lose weight for xxx event” to “I want to change my life forever.” Being healthy is now more of a lifestyle instead of a goal I’m working towards.
Motherhood: The Motivation for Movement
Wheda Carletos is a 49-year-old mother of three whose ultimate fitness goal was to simply keep up with her kids. As a busy executive coach, Alpha Kappa Alpha soror and community volunteer with Jack & Jill for America, Careletos’ health and fitness often took a back seat to her other obligations. But after an afternoon feeling winded after running around with her kids at the park, she decided it was time for a change. That day she made the call to a personal trainer and nutritionist and committed to showing up for herself first so she could be there for her children for years to come.
What is your advice for those looking to get in shape?
Find the thing that works for you. I love walking because it is my me-time where I can meditate and spend time in nature. Also, I needed accountability, the motivation of someone who will call me if I don’t show up. Lastly, if you’re looking to make a complete lifestyle change, I would recommend following a nutrition plan along with a fitness one so you can give your best every workout.
For Sandra Tanner, her post-Covid body was just not cutting it. After a swimsuit-clad trip to Puerto Rico, Tanner realized all the stress and fatigue from the past year had caught up with her, and she now weighed in at 240 pounds. To keep her weight from yo-yoing as it had in the past, she renewed her focus on her why, which was getting healthy so her future self could travel and live her best life at 40 and beyond.
How did you get started, and how do you keep it up?
It started with me challenging myself to lose 40 pounds by my 40th birthday, but it has progressed to so much more than that. Now I stay consistent by working out both at the gym and at home on my Total Gym. I also started using a vibration plate while exercising, and that has helped target stubborn areas. I have also renewed my passion for getting outdoors, whether it be biking or hiking, and that has brought so much joy into my life. When it comes to nutrition, I eat a primarily plant-based diet and drink mostly water with an occasional glass of wine or two.