Danny Patton weighed almost 400 pounds when he realized that he needed to take control of his body. His girlfriend, Kalean Duffy, was also overweight.
Together, the couple, who are both originally from Macungie, have lost 320 pounds in a little over a year. They currently live in Indiana.
“We would get winded walking up two flights of steps at the ages of 21 (Kalean) and 26 (Danny),” Patton said. “We got in the rut of the couple sitting on the couch not doing anything.
“That was our breaking point — we realized ‘we’re still young, there’s no reason that we should be like this.”
The long process of weight loss began right then for Patton and Duffy, who joined Weight Watchers and joined the gym at Back to Nature Fitness in White Township.
“At first the gym was one of the hardest things for us because of how big we were. Walking on the treadmill was a task in itself,” Patton said.
Now 27, Patton met his goal weight of 182 pounds recently, for a total loss of about 215 pounds. Duffy, 22, who is still working toward her goal weight, has lost more than 100 pounds since January 2013.
The couple ate takeout almost every day before they began their transformations, and when it wasn’t takeout, they weren’t eating healthy food. Their diet consisted of processed foods, foods high in sugar and a lot of carbohydrates — “everything that’s bad for you,” Duffy said. “It’s what we were used to.”
The couple has been together for about five years, and said most of the weight gained was as a couple. Though, Patton said, he was always big. “When you have lived that long being overweight it’s just a way of life,” he said.
“It just came to the point where we knew that we had to (lose the weight),” Duffy said. “We were so heavy and it was so out of control.”
Now, their biggest motivation is each other.
“We want to have kids and be healthy,” Duffy said. But they’re also motivated by the thought of being healthy, by looking down the road and looking at their future.
“My motivation is working out together,” said Patton. “We do it every day together.”
Duffy, who joined Weight Watchers about two weeks before Patton did, believes that she wouldn’t have stuck with it if he hadn’t joined.
Their day starts out the same every day: with one-egg, two egg-white omelet with cut-up, frozen green peppers and onions with a piece of lunchmeat turkey and white, low-fat American cheese — a breakfast that’s high in protein. They’ve been doing this as part of their routine since day one.
Living in the college atmosphere, Duffy said, has been hard for both of them throughout their journey. Food is readily available at any time in Indiana, and students that they’re friends with often drink. To be able to get on track, Duffy went as far as taking a leave from her service sorority for a few months to be able to focus on diet and exercise.
When they started the nutritional changes and exercise, Patton lost 18 pounds in the first week, he says, solely from cutting out fast food and eating out. Throughout the course of their weight-loss journey, they lost 3 to 5 pounds per week, a number that’s down to 1 ½ to 2 pounds a week.
“It took me about 50 pounds to lose a dress size,” Duffy said. Now, she said, she’s losing a pant size about every other month.
It’s not all about the number, though.
“Any loss is a good loss,” Duffy said. “When you’re bigger you can lose more, but any loss is a step in the right direction.”
Patton said that it’s about “how it feels,” more than what the scale says when they stand on it.
Their journey has garnered attention from top media outlets, including The Huffington Post and CNN. They’ll be filming for a segment on CNN’s “Why the Health Not” this month.
Plus, they’ve become social media motivators for those losing weight around the world. Duffy, who has almost 4,000 followers on her Instagram account, @KaleanDuffy, posts inspirational tips and messages daily.
The couple aims to give advice on how to exercise and what to eat, and have considered making a Facebook page dedicated to their efforts.
Patton uses his Twitter account, @DPatton_34, as a way to connect with those who might be able to share their story.
They take their lifestyle change with them wherever they go, now.
“We’re going on vacation in May to Myrtle Beach and we take our own food now. We still enjoy foods, just in moderation,” Patton said.
The couple emphasizes the importance of not “dieting.”
“It’s a lifestyle change … it’s something that you have to do for the rest of your life. No food tastes as good as healthy feels,” said Patton.
They’re able to be a part of activities that they said they never “even fathomed to do” before — they have plans to run 5Ks together, they go hiking and enjoy other outdoor activities that weren’t a possibility in the past.
For those aspiring to lose some weight, Patton and Duffy offer some advice: Focus on short-term goals before long-term goals.
“I think (short-term goals) make it easier for people to see that you’re able to reach a goal by working hard and eating healthy,” said Duffy.
Also, they advise against fad dieting, diet pills and supplements.
“A lot of people are looking for a quick fix but you can be 400 pounds, still work out and get the weight down the old-fashioned way.”
Meal planning is another tip — planning meals before shopping and cooking them ahead of time.
Most importantly, the couple advises that “just because you can’t do it today doesn’t mean you can’t do it in the future.
“You have to want to do it for yourself,” Patton said.
“With the right mindset, the right determination … the sky is the limit.”