New Attitude Makes Him a Leaner, Healthier Teen

During my last two years of elementary school, my weight was steadily increasing. I love French fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, and toast with lots of butter. My family goes out to eat for almost all meals. I would order two kids' meals and still be hungry. I also did not get much exercise and spent most of my day watching TV and playing video games. At 12 years old, I was wearing a man's shirt, size large (sometimes extra large). I knew when I started junior high school that things had to change.

During junior high, I found that I got a lot more exercise than in elementary school. For one thing, with six periods, there is a lot of travel time between classes. Additionally, PE provides cross-country running, gym activities and physical fitness tests. I started running four laps around the track each day. I also attended many after-school activities, like the bike club. I try hard to keep my GPA high so that I can participate in the after-school dances.

I also joined the Boy Scouts, and I attend junior high youth group at my church. While I was becoming more active, I started to cut back on the foods I was eating. I have always liked fruit, especially watermelon. I get all the fruit that I want, including bananas. I am now old enough to order an adult meal, so I order only one meal instead of two. Although I still eat French fries, I no longer eat grilled cheese sandwiches. When I get hungry, I now eat popcorn--lots and lots of popcorn. Diet Coke goes great with popcorn.

I lost 32 pounds during the past six months, and have been at my present weight of 108 since January. (It also helped that I grew 3 inches during this past year.) All of my clothes were too big; I now wear a size 14 like most of the other teenage boys. Everywhere I go, I gets lots of compliments about how great I look, especially from most of the girls at school. When I went for my annual checkup in February, my doctor was so impressed that she wrote me a letter and included a copy of one of your weight-loss stories. She told me that I should write in too, so I did.

Vital Statistics

Name: Shawn Koester

Age: 13

Occupation: Junior high school student

Height: 5 feet, 1 inch

Old Weight: 140

New Weight: 108

Time to Get There: Six months

Want to Share Your Success Story?

Losing weight is as individual as gaining weight. Do you have a story on how you got in shape and stayed there? If so, we'd like to hear from you with a 500-word essay listing what worked in terms of diet, exercise, encouragement / support as well as your emotional and physical changes.

We'd also like you to send us full-body color photos of you, before and after.

Send essay and photos to "How I Did It," Health, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, and include daytime and evening phone numbers. No phone calls, please. Submissions cannot be returned.

In addition to publication, winners will receive a Los Angeles Times gym bag and a gift certificate for a free pair of athletic shoes of your choice, redeemable at any Big 5 Sporting Goods store.

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