Todd’s 110-Pound Weight Loss: ‘Enjoy the Process of Changing Your Life’

Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo Health series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Todd Bender is 32, 5’11”, and weighs 190 pounds. But in 2013, he weighed 300 pounds. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.

The Turning Point

I have always wanted to look better and to be physically fit, but in 2013, I started to go through a divorce, and within the first month, the stress led me to lose 15 pounds. That was my catalyst for change. I took that weight loss and ran with it, deciding it was time to regain control of my life. I needed something positive to work toward — and that was it.

The Changes

I set a goal for myself to lose 100 pounds. To start, I eliminated certain foods that I knew all along were bad for me: fast food, ice cream, and soda. I was terribly addicted to soda — drinking it was usually the first thing I’d do after waking up. It wasn’t easy to give it up, but it also wasn’t easy to limit the food. I’m an emotional eater, and those comfort foods were my crutch. I knew, though, that if I was going to reach my goal of 100 pounds lost, I was going to have to get more serious. I couldn’t just rely on cutting back forever; I had to start counting calories.

I began using MyFitnessPal and tracking everything I ate, aiming to stay around 1,200 net calories per day. At first, it was a challenge, but I slowly discovered foods that filled me up for fewer calories — high-volume, low-calorie ones. Over time, my taste in vegetables began to change, and soon I found myself enjoying foods I would have never touched before I started to diet.

Two months into my dieting, I had enough courage to join a local gym and meet with a trainer. This was the key to me pushing forward.

The closer I got to my goal, the easier it became to keep going. I got a lot of compliments on my changing appearance. Those motivated me. They reminded me of my progress even when I couldn’t see it myself. When there were times I thought my goals were hard to reach, or taking longer than I originally anticipated, I just kept moving forward, even if moving forward meant crawling.

About a year later, I had lost that 100 pounds. Before I started, I had a 46-inch waist. Today, I’m down to a 32-inch waist. My shirts were once a size XXL and now I wear a medium — and in some styles, those are baggy around my abdomen. Going down in clothing sizes really showed me just how much I was changing. Along the way, I would buy new clothes slightly tight because I knew I could wear them longer and it was also good motivation to get smaller and fit into them.

Related: Marisa’s 75-Pound Weight Loss: ‘Do Not Lose Weight for Anyone but Yourself’

The After

The most gratifying part, by far, though, was gaining confidence in myself. I learned I could do things I previously thought impossible. As I began to feel better about myself, I wanted to share my good fortune with the rest of the world. I was more polite to strangers, I was more helpful to everyone I knew, and I also became a better father to my son.

Todd with his son before and after his weight loss. (Photo courtesy of Todd Bender)

What began as something purely physical, turned out to be more mentally transformative than anything. I never expected that to happen. It’s the most amazing part of my journey. As I continue, I am working on getting a personal trainer’s certificate with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and I hope to help open up a better emotional world for my future clients through physical fitness.

The Maintenance

Now that it’s been two years of maintaining, it’s fairly easy for me to maintain my weight and fitness. I know what foods work well for me and which exercises help me achieve my goals.

Today, I work out by doing strength training four to five days a week. I do isolation exercises and compound powerlifts. I have also been taking vinyasa yoga classes and really enjoy that style of workout. I still aim to hit a certain number of calories a day and try to hit certain target macronutrient levels. I also like to limit my alcohol intake to one outing every week, preferably at least two weeks apart.

I find cheat meals not only rewarding, but necessary. I don’t recommend them for the first two or three months of dieting, though, because I think it’s important to gain self-control and also because seeing big results from your hard work right away keeps you motivated. Once you feel confident in your diet, a cheat meal once or twice a week is perfectly acceptable.

Related: Randy’s 132-Pound Weight Loss: It Takes ‘Time to Fix Bad Habits. You Are Worth That Time’


It may be hard, but try to remember to enjoy the process of changing your life. Enjoy the struggles of self-improvement. Enjoy the benefits of self-improvement. Find a support group, and share all your positive and negative thoughts with them. People can help you with your struggles, or you can help them with their own. I really enjoy taking some downtime with like-minded individuals and discussing goals, dreams, and struggles with each other.

Find a good gym where you feel comfortable. When I started, I was completely lost and out of shape — now, I’m working toward having a career in helping others with weight loss. Never give up! The road you take will lead you to greater things then you have ever hoped for!

Weight-Loss Win is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative 135-pound weight loss of her own. Have a success story to share? We want to hear it. Tell us at

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