Chris and Hayley Pandolfo were unhappy and overweight for many years before they fixed their diet and exercise habits. Here’s how they did it.
Hayley explained: “Our marriage beforehand was rocky and very unhappy. We were both severely depressed and not communicating as a couple.”
Chris added: “I had become really quite ashamed of myself.”
Working in security on the night shift, he could conveniently “hide away” from the world.
“I was taking my responsibilities as far as financially providing for my wife and children, but I became somewhat content with just hiding away and getting fatter and sicker.”
It was only when he caught a glimpse of his reflection on his laptop screen one night, as he avoided mirrors, that he realised how much of a “sad, sad person” he truly was.
Reaching a “tipping point”, Chris realised that at 35-years-old, he was only two years younger than his mother when she had passed away from an obesity related illness.
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He thought: “I’m going to do the same to my wife and kids as what my mum essentially did to me.”
And if he did survive, he didn’t want his children to think: “Daddy just sits in the chair and doesn’t do anything.”
Willing to do whatever it took to prevent himself going down this path, he signed up to Beachbody, refusing weight loss surgery because he wanted to deal with the reasons why he put the weight on in the first place.
He wrote: “I’m fat, I’m sick, I’m dying. I need your help.”
He did home workouts, predominantly boxing, twice a day, “at home so my wife and kids could see me do it”, and changed his diet.
Chris admitted: “I was close to 400 pounds, so I just needed to move physically, it didn’t really matter what I was doing.”
Hayley remembers Chris turning into an entirely new person: “He started working out in front of the TV and cooking his own meals. His personality became lighter, kinder and more open. He changed on the inside even more than the outside.”
But it wasn’t easy; Chis would often vomit during the strenuous workouts, before returning for more.
At times when it was difficult to stay motivated, Chris would hold pizza or a burger in one hand and a photo of his family in the other, reminding him what he had to lose and who he was doing this for.
But he stuck to his goals: “I don’t do a very good job emphasising just how scared I was of dying, because I didn’t want to die – although I was acting like I was trying to kill myself with all my unhealthy habits.”
After 18 months, he was an incredible 12 stone down, and entered The Beachbody Challenge.
He came in first place out of a whopping 50,000 contestants and took home an astonishing $100,000 (£73,500).
At first, Hayley’s own personal struggles meant she struggled to be happy for her husband, let alone follow in his footsteps.
Depressed herself at the time, she admitted: “I hated the whole thing, I was so resentful. When you’re in such a dark place you never believe that something as simple as doing a workout is going to change your life. I was a master at not looking at myself and ignoring any issues.”
But almost three years after Chris’ transformation, something changed for Hayley: “One day I realised I felt like I had been living in a basement, with this physical need to get out. I told Chris, ‘I need to do what you’ve done’.
“That night I spent all night looking at transformation videos on YouTube.”
The very next day she started a workout programme, and regarding food, ate three nutritious meals a day “and no snacks”.
Previously looking for happiness at the bottom of bags of chips, Hayley and Chris relied on processed foods such as chips as their staple diet.
She admitted: “I was probably about 19-years-old when I had my first salad.
“It was takeaways all the time and we never left anything on the plate.”
Chris added: “A big turnaround was that we refocused when we started working out, seeing food as fuel for the workouts we were doing.”
At the beginning of her journey, Hayley was “embarrassed” for Chris to be in the room with her when she worked out, but now, an impressive five stone down after a year and a half, they do it together, and “have a laugh” at the same time.
Since both losing the weight, Chris and Hayley have never been happier, and Hayley will never forget when her daughters heard her laugh for the first time in years and said, ‘Did mummy just laugh?’
“I was looking for weight loss but what matters most to me is that it’s changed me for the better and I can be a better mum for them.”
For those looking to embark on a similar journey to Chris and Hayley, they have adopted the method “mostly veg”, where meals usually incorporate a protein source and side of vegetables.
Filling up on vegetables meant that the couples could be in a calorie deficit but still feel full.
Chris concluded: “Our journey is actually really boring and simple. We did our workouts every day and we stuck to a particular method of eating.”