Height: 5 feet 11 inches
How long he's kept it off: He took about a year to finish losing the first 50 pounds. He reached his current weight in June 2013.
Personal life: "I live in McDonough, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, with my wonderful wife, Andrea, and our five beautiful daughters," Atkinson says. "I have just completed my degree in education, and I am looking forward to teaching science during the next school year. I hope to have a positive impact on others through my job." He blogs about weight loss and health at: www.envisionhealthcoaching.org.
Turning point: It was at a routine doctor's visit that he learned not only did he have high blood pressure but his weight had reached an all-time high of 254 pounds. "I remember thinking to myself — 'That's it! I won't take it anymore. I will change this,'" he says. "Hands down, the number one motivator for me was my family. I want to be around for my wife and kids for a long time. After learning about how detrimental high blood pressure could be, I decided I would do everything I could to get it under control."
Diet plan: "I used to be hooked on ice cream and refined carbohydrates like cereal," he says. "Now my favorite dessert is Greek yogurt or whey protein with fresh fruit." Breakfast is usually an omelet made with one whole egg and three egg whites. Lunch is chicken salad and veggies. Afternoon snack is a piece of fruit. Dinner is a salad, lean protein, and fresh veggies.
Exercise routine: "I do a weight training and cardiovascular workout that only takes about 30 to 45 minutes, four or five days each week, focusing on two muscle groups per session. I also enjoy long walks or riding my mountain bike around the neighborhood two to three times a week. Exercising outdoors is a great way to get the whole family involved," he says.
Biggest challenge: "My biggest challenge was with eating right," he says. "During the time I was losing the weight, I was working full time and going to school at night. Some days, I was busy 14 to 16 hours. I overcame this by planning ahead and packing all my meals, snacks and water for the day. This enabled me to follow through on my plan."
How life has changed: "I replaced the size 40 pants I used to wear with a size 33, and they are more comfortable. I have a lot more energy and focus in other areas of my life, too." Instead of XL shirts, I now wear a large. I am also writing a book titled "Challenged to Change," in order to share my success strategies and help others make similar changes."