Stephen Shell, 31, of Fayetteville, lost 109 pounds


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SUCCESS STORY / Stephen Shell, 31: From 350 pounds to 241 pounds

Former weight: 350 pounds

Current weight: 241 pounds

Pounds lost: 109

Height: 6 feet 3 inches

Age: 31

How long he's kept it off: He started in August 2012. He reached his current weight this month but is working toward a goal of 220 pounds.

Personal life: "I've been married for nine years to my wife, Erin. We have three children: Nathan, 7, Daniel, 4, and Kaitlyn, 10 months," Shell says. "I'm the chorus teacher at Pike County Middle School." During his summer breaks from school, he does weight-loss coaching. "Since I am a teacher, I see this as my mission each summer to help others with their health." He blogs at: www.stephensweightloss.com.

Turning point: "I had known for a while that I was extremely unhealthy, but I couldn't seem to find a diet that I could actually stick with," he says. "I had done several diet attempts in the past few years, and failed each time. The real turning point for me was realizing how much I actually liked the paleo diet and deciding to make it the way I will eat forever. Even when I reach my ultimate goal weight, I have no intention of going off of this plan."

Diet plan: "Basically, eat real, whole foods, no processed foods at all and no added sugar." For breakfast, he has a fajita omelet with chicken, peppers and onions. Lunch is a hamburger patty with sauteed spinach and roasted broccoli. Dinner is a pork chop with roasted asparagus and carrot fries. He snacks on almonds and strawberries.

Exercise routine: "I try to walk 10,000 steps a day, using a Fitbit pedometer," he says. "Other than this, I had no serious exercise plan. I attribute my weight loss mainly to my eating."

Biggest challenge: "Detoxing from sugar and carbs," he says. "Week one was extremely difficult. The sudden absence of Coke, sweet tea, and bread left me feeling weak and gave me serious headaches. Once I was able to push through week one, I came into week two feeling amazing — it truly was a detox."

How life has changed: "I (can) pick up all three of my kids and step on the scale and still not weigh as much as I did two years ago — it has literally been a weight off of my shoulders," he says. "Another factor that kept me going was that I started blogging and actually posting my weekly weigh-in for all to see. When you know that people are seeing your weigh-in numbers every week, you think twice about cheating or going off plan for any reason. For instance, I was able to stay on my plan while my wife and I were on a cruise, and I was able to post to my blog afterwards that I actually lost weight on a cruise."