2011 Lifestyle Change Winner

Lloyd Toledo

Loses 200 Pounds, Gains Hope

At 469 pounds, Lloyd Toledo wasn’t happy with his weight and neither were his doctors. He was in and out of the hospital for insulin-dependent diabetes, an enlarged heart, sleep apnea, back pain, and respiratory failure. Reality hit after Lloyd’s doctor, Dr. Michael Aylward of the University of Minnesota Physicians, warned him that he would live only a few more years—if that—if he didn’t lose a tremendous amount of weight. The warning was a much-needed wake-up call. 

“I thought, ‘This is a life or death situation,’” says the now 56-year-old. “I thought ‘I have to change, starting today. I’m not stopping until I reach 225 pounds.

His motivation was not only a strong will to live, but a fierce love for his family—he wanted to be around for his wife Carolyn and his kids Chad and Michelle.

He had packed on the weight over the years by eating any and everything—nothing was off-limits. Not only was his diet far from healthy; he never exercised. “I was on oxygen and my activities were very limited,” he says. “I couldn’t walk more than a few yards at a time.” His wife was highly supportive, making low-fat, healthy meals and snacks for the whole family (she eventually lost 44 pounds and his daughter lost 46 pounds), but Lloyd was still hungry all the time. He soon realized that food deprivation would only frustrate and discourage him. It was all about baby steps. Instead of cutting out all snacks, he cut out one snack a day. Exercise was the same way — he knew he couldn’t start on a rigorous exercise plan, so he walked one minute a day. Just 60 seconds, but it was enough to light a fire under him. “Every two weeks after that, I took away another snack and added another minute to my walking,” he says. “This continued for a long period of time.”

The baby steps became impressive strides. He did not have gastric bypass surgery, he lost the weight by altering his diet and riding a stationary bike, walking, lifting weights, and doing a lot of yard work (he traded in his riding lawn mower for a push mower). He acknowledged the 100-pound weight loss by taking his family out to dinner. At 200 pounds, the family went out to a nice dinner to celebrate and Dr. Aylward said he would dance in the middle of the plaza at the U of M.

He has a future that never seemed possible — and a past that seemed to have belonged to someone else. He’s no longer on insulin; his weight-related health problems have all but disappeared.

His advice to others hoping to shed the pounds? “Don’t think of it as a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. You must be completely dedicated to change your lifestyle.”  Step up to the plate and do something, even if it’s as small as walking 60 seconds a day. Know there will be ups and downs, gains and losses, but stay focused and keep your goal in mind. Whatever you do, do not give up. There’s a reason, after all, that it’s called a weight loss journey.

“I’m extremely happy today,” he says. “I feel like I’m 30 years old again.”

Nominate Yourself or a Friend

The Twin Cities Lifestyle Change Award is presented annually at the Heart Walk and is sponsored locally by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Apply today at heart.org/TwinCitiesLifestyleChangeAward.