Ari Sarmento, 46, of Atlanta, lost 35 pounds

SUCCESS STORY / Ari Sarmento, 46: From 215 pounds to 180 pounds

Former weight: 215 pounds

Current weight: 180 pounds

Pounds lost: 35 pounds

Height: 5 feet 11 inches

Age: 46 years

How long he’s kept it off: He started eight months ago and reached his current weight in the last month.

Personal life: “I am a career airline pilot,” says Sarmento. “I currently serve as the chief pilot for a private airline based in the Atlanta area,” he says. “I [was] asked to be a boot camp instructor.” In September, he became an instructor with Operation Boot Camp, www.operationbootcamp.com. He is single and lives in Atlanta.

Turning point: His turning point came, “when my doctor indicated that if I lost some weight, I could get off high blood pressure medication. I am required to have a physical examination every six months so that my flight privileges stay intact. When your job is on the line, it’s a good motivator,” he says. “I was visiting [a friend] one Sunday night, she made the statement that I had to go home as she was getting up at 5:00 a.m.to do boot camp. I made a statement that I would go with her to help her get up in the morning and by the second day of boot camp, I signed up… When you are accountable to someone, it can drive you to stay on track.”

Diet plan: “I learned how to exercise properly and eat healthy. The program has you track everything you eat, instructors review what you eat each morning and give you pointers and ideas for healthier eating,” he says. “I now eat six small meals throughout the day, watch my carb intake and alcohol intake.” His tips include, “have a salad every day for lunch - I’m talking a big salad with loads of fiber-rich vegetables, topped with a little lean protein: chicken, salmon or baked tofu. Research suggests that both fiber and protein are particularly satisfying.” He also recommends avoiding alcohol. “A five ounce glass of wine or light beer generally packs about 100 calories. Consumed every day for one year, 100 extra calories adds up to a ten-pound weight gain.”

Exercise routine: “[I do] operation boot camp five days a week and run five to seven miles on Saturday and on Sunday as well.” Four days per week, he works out at the gym for 30 minutes.

Biggest challenge: “Looking at myself in a new way and getting a run in when I am on the road working.”

How life has changed: “After the first month, I had to make a new hole in my belt and several more each month after,” he says. “Healthy eating and exercise along with encouragement from the instructors and fellow boot camp members has paid off for me… My endurance is much better on long runs… The healthier I am, the better I feel [and] the more positive outlook I have on life.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.