By Ginna Parsons
GUNTOWN – Jeramy Turner can’t remember a time when he wasn’t heavy.
“I was overweight as a child – not obese – maybe an XL or XXL,” said Turner, 35, of Guntown. “After college is when it really piled on.”
He began teaching at Tupelo High School, where he’s been for 14 years, and the stress of the job caused him to overeat.
“We had a scale at work, but I didn’t bother using it,” he said. “I didn’t care. I ate what I wanted to eat.”
In May 2012, he went to the doctor for lower back pain. The doctor suggested he lose some weight.
“I weighed in at 375 pounds,” he said. “That’s the heaviest I’d ever been.”
But still, he kept overeating, until he was wearing size 54-56 pants and 4X and 5X shirts.
Six months later, his son, Nate, celebrated a birthday. Pictures were taken. And Turner’s eyes were opened.
“For me, it was psychological,” he said. “Seeing those pictures – it finally convinced me I had to do something if I wanted to be around for my kids.”
Turner has successfully lost weight in the past, using the Weight Watchers program.
“When I got married, I lost 30 pounds. When Nate was born, I lost 80 pounds. I lost 17 to 20 pounds when Ava was born.”
But then he’d gain it all back, and more.
The turning point came when the TPSD announced it would begin paying for gym memberships.
“I knew I had no more excuses,” he said, “so I just started going.”
In November 2012, Turner joined the North Mississippi Medical Center Wellness Center and he began following his old Weight Watchers plan.
The first week, he lost seven pounds. By Christmas, he’d lost 30 pounds.
“I kept losing four pounds a week,” he said. “I never even had a stalled week until May 2013, when I weighed the same – 265 – from one week to the next. But then I started losing again.”
In September, he hit his goal weight of 168 pounds.
“This is where I want to stay,” he said. “I just have to keep my calorie intake equal to my workout burn. I have to convince myself not to turn to food to solve my problems.”
How he did it
When Turner first began his program, he did cardio exercises for 30 minutes and did a circuit of weight machines for 30 minutes each day. He paid attention to portion sizes and cut out all fried foods.
“We started baking everything,” he said. “I still eat Hamburger Helper, but now I only eat one cup instead of half the pan.”
In May 2013, he cut out all the “bad white carbs” – white potatoes, white pasta and white rice – and substituted sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta and brown rice.
“And I drink water all the time,” he said. “Lord, I can drink 10 bottles a day.”
And somewhere along the way, his taste buds did a 180-degree turn.
“I used to hate cucumbers, apples, pears,” he said. “There are so many things now that I eat.”
A typical breakfast is oatmeal and a whole-wheat English muffin with sugar-free preserves or an egg-white omelet with onions, peppers and fat-free cheese; turkey sausage and an English muffin.
Lunch might be a broth-based soup, a reduced-fat pimiento cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread and a cup of yogurt. Snacks are granola bars and fruit.
“And for dinner I eat whatever the family is having, only I have a smaller portion and anything green,” he said. “And I don’t do iceberg anymore. Now, it’s Romaine or leafy green or red lettuce.”
Turner’s energy level has skyrocketed. Now, he’s up at 4:30 in the morning, doing dishes, making beds, starting laundry and hitting the gym for cardio and free weights, all before he goes to work.
He’s even training to run a 10K race in February and the Gumtree in May (he’s already completed three 5K races).
“I’ve found I’m addicted to running,” he said. “I try to do an hour of cardio, whether that’s the Stairmaster or the cross-trainer or running every day. I get ill if I don’t get my gym time in.”
Turner’s wife, Rebecca, has also lost about 20 pounds just by cutting out bread and fried foods, and his son has started asking for fruit as a snack.
“When I went back to school in August, my students didn’t recognize me,” he said. “They just walked right past me in the hallway. That was really cool.”
Turner knows the real hard work is ahead of him … keeping the weight off.
“I’ve hit my goal and I’ve worked way too hard for it to put it back on,” he said. “Every day is another day. It’s kind of like Alcoholics Anonymous. Every day I don’t binge eat is a success. I’ve learned how to eat well. People think you have to eat differently, but you don’t. You just have to watch what you eat. It’s mind over matter.”