Most of us are counting extra pounds gained during quarantine because of stress, lack of movement, and all the tasty and comforting foods around the house. But if we look at the bigger picture, the problem is much bigger than getting ready for beach season. Contributing to serious health conditions such as heart diseases, stroke, or diabetes, obesity is one of the leading risk factors causing early death that could be prevented. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2017-2018, the prevalence of obesity in adults was 42.4%. It’s more about being healthy and comfortable in your own body than anything else. And we need those success stories to fuel us to take that first step.

36-year-old Ethan Spiezer from Illinois, who has been struggling with emotional eating all his life, decided to change his life completely in 2017. Struck by the fact that his life was at stake, he proved to have enormous willpower and determination to achieve the results he’s proudly sharing now. After losing 200 lbs and going from 6X to XL in a little under two years, he doesn’t only look like a different person, his quality of life has changed completely. 14 months ago, his wife Rebecca, 41, joined the healthy lifestyle and has already lost 100 lbs.

Spiezer recently shared a wholesome before-and-after photo illustrating their incredible makeover on Reddit and in a few days, it has been upvoted over 100k times.

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After peaking at more than 400 pounds, he committed to change his life for the better and started this 2-year-long journey

Image credits: ethanspiezer

“It began in July 2017. I took a vacation to San Diego. I needed a seat belt extension on the plane, couldn’t fit in amusement park rides, and was out of breath and tired the whole time. My wife was also struggling. My mom had recently passed and I was extremely down. I realized how important it was that I will be there for my kids so I decided to make the journey,” Spiezer told Bored Panda.

“I decided that I would certainly die if I didn’t lose 200 pounds. So I gave myself a goal of 2 years to achieve it”

Image credits: ethanspiezer

Keto diet and intermittent fasting helped Spiezer lose over 130 pounds in 10 months

Image credits: ethanspiezer

Spiezer started off by reducing and then eliminating carbs from his daily diet. He also included intermittent fasting into his routine, and that meant eating only between noon and 8 p.m.

“I did 1 day at a time. I knew I could do one day even though I couldn’t do a week. So I did one day, then I continued doing it over and over again. After I lost the first 100, I began exercising regularly with resistance bands and my wife put me in charge of her meals. Now it’s been just under 2 years.”

Image credits: ethanspiezer

“I am no longer pre-diabetic, I no longer have fatty liver disease, I no longer require asthma maintenance or rescue inhalers, and my blood pressure is back to normal. Rebecca’s plantar fasciitis no longer bothers her in addition to overall body pain being down.”

“I can finally wear an undershirt around the house, without feeling full of shame”

Image credits: ethanspiezer

“Energy up. Confidence up. Love of life up,” he wrote in one of his Reddit posts.

He inspired his wife to follow his lifestyle, and she has lost 100 lbs in 14 months

Image credits: ethanspiezer

“After a few months, my wife said, ‘ok, make my food too!’ Lucky for me, once she started losing weight, she became interested in healthy cooking and makes delicious foods for our whole family. Having a supportive spouse makes anything from doing the dishes to losing 300 lbs better. I mean, the weight loss journey is definitely easier in some regards, as you know they also understand how difficult the journey is, but we are all individuals so the differences can present their own unique challenges. For example, in my opinion, a 5 feet tall, 40-year-old mother of 2 losing 100 lbs is, in a lot of ways, more impressive than a 36-year-old man losing 200. Also, my diet now includes all clean eating and some fruit and complex carbs, whereas she maintains ketosis, so we eat different diets and meals for our own success needs while on a very similar overall path.”

Image credits: ethanspiezer

Spiezer dropped 200 lbs in 20 months and now wants to lose 40 more, but in no rush

Image credits: ethanspiezer

“I used to regularly smile at people, and some would smile back, some would turn away, and some would actually frown. I get it, it’s human nature, but man did it, and still does hurt. Now when strangers reciprocate my smiles at near 100% of the time, it’s overwhelming.”

Image credits: ethanspiezer

“Obviously, self-confidence is up. However, a life of thinking you are too big has long term impact no doubt. I’d like to say we look in the mirror and love what we see, but that’s not true. We still fixate on our flaws and what still needs to be done more than what we have accomplished. Body dysmorphia is a mental illness that involves an obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance. This can be tricky for anyone who has ever struggled with an eating disorder or weight issues. This can be extremely difficult for anyone who has lost a lot of weight and is left with loose skin, which in a very real sense is a flaw. We try to tell ourselves it’s a battle scar, but the scar of a battle we are winning.”

Image credits: ethanspiezer

We asked Spiezer what was the most challenging and the most rewarding on his journey.

“The most challenging part has been staying on task when we don’t see any movement on the scale. I went for three months without losing a pound then lost 8 in a week. We assume, often incorrectly, that fat loss directly correlates with scale numbers. But that isn’t always true. So many variables, such as hormone levels, can stall weight loss on paper despite clothes continually becoming looser. The other main challenge has been getting back to the thousands of comments and messages we’ve received while sharing our story online. The most rewarding part has been helping to inspire and motivate others. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I could not only help myself but others as well. It makes me think that all the years of pain as a bigger person will have been worth it if I’m able to now inspire or help others. I just wish I could respond to all the messages.”

He started sharing his amazing transformation and experience to inspire and motivate others

Image credits: ethanspiezer

“I did initially because I was discouraged and was looking for support. Instead, I got so much feedback that I was supporting and encouraging others by sharing my story, that I kept posting. I’ve been the top story on Reddit several times, I’ve had posts hit over 100k upvotes, and have been contacted by various media outlets to share my story with others as a result. The oddest part to me has been that over 99% of feedback has been positive. Which in the age of internet trolls, is phenomenal.”

Image credits: ethanspiezer

“I get messages from people telling me how much they’ve lost. I try to get my message out there so people know it’s doable without surgery, steroids, extreme eating, or hours of exercise daily. I give free advice to others and to date have helped friends and internet strangers lose over 1000 pounds.”

“If we can do this, anyone can”

Image credits: ethanspiezer

We asked Spiezer for a bit of advice for anyone who is willing to go on this journey, to which he said: “Stop looking at it as though you are needing to lose all the weight at once. Do one day. Then just keep repeating that one day. ”

It’s important to realize that it’s a wavy road with lots of bumps and you can’t give up after facing any obstacles. For the Spiezer family quarantine has been a big challenge but they managed to get back on track.

“Initially we messed up big time, as I’m sure a lot of people did. Stress eating and completely falling off the wagon was a daily thing for a couple of months. Luckily, we snapped out of it and got back to work. We both gained 20 lbs and have since been on track.  I lost 10 lbs in May whereas Rebecca has lost every pound and then some more.”

Here’s what people had to say about the couple’s amazing transformation