Success Story: The Lydays
After nearly a decade of partying and fast food, Neal and Shelia Lyday reclaimed their bodies — and their lives
Neal & Shelia Lyday
Hometown: Bakersfield, Calif.
Age: Neal 46, Sheila 39
Weight Before: Neal 240 lbs, Shelia 189 lbs
Weight After: Neal 160 lbs, Shelia 135 lbs
Height: Neal 5' 8", Shelia 5' 7"
Before getting married in 1997, Neal Lyday never struggled with weight. Growing up, he'd always been lean and athletic. But once he and Shelia Lyday said, "I do," the struggles began for both of them. "We partied, drank beer, and ate a ton of fast food," Neal says. "I'd hit the drive-thru five times a day and eat about 10,000 calories."
As his waistline expanded, Neal's physical activity plummeted. Soon, the only exercise he was getting was at work, as the owner of a pool-servicing company. And the bigger he got, the tougher it became to even do that job. "My heart would be pounding after just a short walk," he says. Shelia wasn't exercising, either, so the couple typically ordered in at night. That was their routine for almost 10 years.
Neal got the classic wake-up call after a routine physical in 2007 revealed that his cholesterol was twice that of a healthy man, a whopping 465 mg/dL. Because of Neal's severe family history of heart disease, his doctor called Neal "a walking time bomb." But it wasn't until he picked up a copy of Men's Fitness in March 2008 that he tried to change, and perhaps save, his life. "Shelia and I had both decided we were unhappy with our weight," he says, "and knew we needed to do something."
The couple took before pictures, hanging them up all over their house, and started doing 20 minutes of cardio six days a week, eventually lifting as well. They also swore off fast food. Together, they cooked lowfat meals with a 1-2-3 formula: one part fat, two parts protein, and three parts carbs. They also started eating smaller meals more frequently to help keep their metabolisms stoked.
Their hard work has paid off. Neal, now a certified personal trainer, shed 80 pounds, lost an amazing 75% of his body fat (from a shade under 40% to just 8.5%), and lowered his cholesterol. Shelia lost 54 pounds and over 20% body fat, too. "We couldn't have done it if we didn't work together," he says looking back. "We knew we had to be on the same page with the same goals. Otherwise, neither one of us was ever going to succeed."
Neal's Tip: Don't Starve Yourself
"You have to eat to lose fat," he says. "Eating better-quality food is more important than just lowering the number on the scale. Stay away from fads, diets, and gimmicks and just work on improving your overall lifestyle."