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Local man gives advice on how to lose weight and keep it off

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Joey Leys, a lifelong resident of Demopolis, said he is looking better and feeling better than he has in many years. With the help of an exercise regimen at the Wellness Center and a complete lifestyle change, Leys said he &8220;feels like a kid again.&8221;

Speaking to a group of Scale Back Alabama participants on Tuesday night, Leys said, &8220;The biggest decision I had to make was to get started.&8221;

After gaining and losing close to 300 pounds over most of his adult life and being put on blood pressure medication, Leys said he finally made the choice to do something about his excessive weight. After making significant changes nine months ago, Leys has lost close to 100 pounds.

When he first started to exercise at the gym, Leys said he could only walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes before feeling winded. Now, he can do much more strenuous exercise, and he has seen the results.

Leys said he also made significant dietary changes, using an old saying as his motivation: How do you eat healthy? One bite at a time.

One of his biggest vices, Leys said, was fried foods and high-carbohydrate foods such as cornbread, rice and gravy. In addition to the wrong foods, Leys said he ate the wrong portion size, which can be especially difficult when eating out.

But eating out doesn&8217;t always have to be avoided, Leys told the group. &8220;Anywhere you want to go out to eat, if you make your mind up, you can make healthier choices.&8221;

Where he once ate whole candy bars, Leys said he enjoys just a bite size candy bar. Instead of frying potatoes, he bakes them.

Another important message Leys had to share is there will always be setbacks along the way. One of those setbacks is giving in to temptation and eating foods that are not as healthy. One way to combat this, he said, is not to deprive yourself of the foods you love. Instead, eat them occasionally and in small portions to keep your weight loss on track.

Encouragement is another factor in sticking to a long-term weight loss plan. Leys relayed a story about his daughter, who told him a few months ago she could finally reach both of her arms around him when she hugged him.

Since he began his lifestyle change, Leys said he has seen other benefits in addition to raised self-esteem and weight loss. He has now been off of his blood pressure medication for five months. He also has more energy to spend time with his children and grandchildren.

Finally, he told the group how important it is to stick with a program, and make time for it in your routine.

Leys&8217; comments were the opening for the weekly meeting for the participants of Scale Back Alabama, which is now in its seventh week. At the end of the 10-week program, participants in teams of four will weigh in with the hopes of attaining their goal of losing 10 pounds in 10 weeks. Those who achieve that goal will be eligible to win cash prizes.