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Courtesy of Earl Cox & Lynnette Khalfani-Cox
Courtesy of Earl Cox & Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

Here’s How I Safely Lost 80 Pounds in 10 Months

Plus, my husband dropped 65 — and we did it all with no gym, personal trainer or fancy exercise equipment, no diet pills, and no costly diet programs.

Like so many women — especially Black women — I struggled with weight issues for years.

Being overweight … no, let’s be honest, being obese took a toll on me in various ways:

Nagging back issues. Lack of energy. An inability to do things like easily climbing stairs and sitting comfortably on airplanes.

But last October, I began a health and fitness journey that has transformed my life. In 10 months, I’ve shed a whopping 80 pounds (so far), and I feel absolutely incredible. My energy is through the roof, and even though I’m 54, I feel like I’m in my 20s again! Most surprising are a few weight-loss benefits I never expected: better sleep quality, no more snoring and greatly improved balance.

A Wake-Up Call

The main impetus for my weight loss came last fall, when my husband, Earl, went to the doctor and was diagnosed with A-fib, or atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat condition that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

In late 2021, at my heaviest, I was 250 pounds. And let me be honest: I didn’t like knowing that my husband was 6 inches taller than me, yet we were the exact same weight!

Sadly, strokes run in Earl’s family: Both of his parents had strokes, as did his grandfather, and they are now all deceased. So that was an enormous wake-up call for us both. To be blunt: Earl didn’t want to die prematurely, and I certainly didn’t want to be a widow.

We knew something had to give.

Earl’s doctors spelled out various A-fib triggers like alcohol and excess sodium. Since Earl had to cut them all out, I resolved to do the same, to support him. Being overweight also exacerbates A-fib. And, unfortunately, Earl was obese too. Happily, we were both in the right frame of mind to tackle our weight issues together.

Making Lifestyle Changes


We began by reading research and reports on weight loss and managing A-fib. With our newfound knowledge, we agreed to prioritize our health, change our sedentary lifestyle and get moving.

We started off walking around the lake near our home, just doing one lap, briskly, for about 1 mile. Then we built up to 2 miles and next, 3. These days, we routinely walk 4 to 5 miles daily together. Although I also jog and run now, and I have played tennis and done some Pilates, too, nothing beats walking for us. Since it’s a sustainable activity that we can do for the rest of our lives, walking represents about 90 percent of our exercise routine.

We started off walking around the lake near our home, just doing one lap, briskly, for about 1 mile.

In the past, when I tried to lose weight, I went all out with exercising, erroneously thinking that spending lots of time in the gym and working out intensely would be the cure-all for my excess pounds.

What I now know is that many health and fitness experts say successful, sustained weight loss is mostly about what I’m eating.

“Losing weight is 80 percent nutrition and 20 percent doing the right exercise. You can’t out-train a bad diet,” says Regina Mitchell, a Philadelphia-based personal trainer certified by AFAA, ISCA and AAAI.

Adds Mitchell: “It’s not about having a diet; it’s about having a lifestyle change.”

Thankfully, our nutrition is where we’ve made the biggest lifestyle changes.

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Courtesy of Earl Cox & Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

Eating to Live — Not Living to Eat


For starters, my husband and I now practice what’s called 18/6 or 16/8 intermittent fasting, a healthy, sustainable way to restrict calories. With intermittent fasting, we eat only during a six- or eight-hour window each day.

Specifically, I fast and refrain from eating for 18 hours each day, and then I have a six-hour period, from 1 to 7 p.m. daily, when I do eat. Earl fasts for 16 hours each day, then eats during an eight-hour period lasting from 1 to 9 p.m. During both our fasting and eating periods throughout the day, we’re drinking lots of water too. Intermittent fasting isn’t a good fit for everyone, so consult with your doctor first.

If you’d told me two years ago I’d be doing this, I would’ve said, “No way. I get ‘hangry’ if I don’t eat breakfast!” Now that I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for nearly a year, I know better. I typically eat a hearty lunch daily and a light meal or snack in the early evening — and that’s it.

Once I found the right eating and fasting window that worked for my life and schedule, I could easily “miss” a meal and feel just fine. In fact, I often feel more rejuvenated during my fasting period, and my body simply doesn’t need three meals a day now.

Besides weight loss and fat burning, the benefits of intermittent fasting include improved blood pressure, better heart health, protection against type 2 diabetes and more.


Better Food Choices


I avoid white table salt now.

The USDA recommends that most adults limit sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. We consume half of that because sodium isn’t just a killer, as Harvard research shows; it also makes you retain water and excess pounds. Sodium is also linked to hypertension, a condition far too prevalent in the Black community.

We’ve cut out buying packaged, processed and junk foods. No more fast-food restaurants, nor sugar-laden breakfast cereals and doughnuts from the grocery store. We simply don’t bring them into the house anymore. This reduced carbohydrates greatly and aided our weight loss.

But we do eat healthy carbs, like sweet potatoes.

I love fish, chicken, beans and tofu as good protein sources.

My choice of healthy fats are avocados, almonds and olive oil doused liberally on grilled veggies.

My go-to meal, often prepared by my hubby, is a nice piece of baked salmon and a kale or spinach salad, complemented by a generous dollop of hummus on the side.

I knew my healthy habits were the real deal when I went on a two-week vacation to Mexico in July and came back home weighing the same as I did when I left. In years past, I would always return from a vacation having put on pounds, especially since my family often travels to all-inclusive resorts that ply you with three meals a day, snacks galore and drinks every time you turn around.

I knew my healthy habits were the real deal when I went on a two-week vacation to Mexico in July and came back home weighing the same as I did when I left.

This summer, however, Earl and I mostly stuck with our new, normal eating routine. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all salads and salmon. I ate cake a few times and tried some sweet Mexican desserts while I was away too. But I also got my daily walking in, did weightlifting in the resort’s gym and said “no, gracias” every time I was offered alcohol.

Reaching My Goal Weight


This is the first time I’ve publicly shared my weight in print, and it’s not easy … but here goes.

In late 2021, at my heaviest, I was 250 pounds. And let me be honest: I didn’t like knowing that my husband was 6 inches taller than me, yet we were the exact same weight!

Thankfully, that’s now changed. Earl has lost 65 pounds and is at his target weight of 185. I’ve dropped 80 pounds and am currently at 170 pounds. Woo-hoo!

My target weight is 150 — meaning I will have lost 100 pounds — and it’s a goal I know I’ll accomplish before year’s end.

My energy is through the roof, and even though I’m 54, I feel like I’m in my 20s again! Most surprising are a few weight-loss benefits I never expected: better sleep quality, no more snoring and greatly improved balance.

I didn’t choose 150 pounds as my goal weight arbitrarily. I’ve consulted with my primary care provider and seen a host of doctors this year to try to optimize my health. (It’s always a good idea to consult your physician before making major health or lifestyle changes.)

I’m 5 feet 6 inches, and 150 pounds is within the upper range of what’s considered a healthy BMI, or body mass index, for my age, height and gender. (Of course, when it comes to “healthy” labels, the BMI standards are based on white folks, not on Black bodies.)

Nonetheless, in sharing my story, I hope to offer inspiration to other women like me who are battling their own weight issues.

More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. It’s about time we changed that.

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