Highlands Ranch couple wins weight-loss challenge

Life has improved drastically for Wilsons amid transformative journey

Posted 1/14/19

Six years ago, overweight by more than 80 pounds each, Kent and Linda Wilson felt emotionally exhausted and unfulfilled with life. Today, down 175 pounds altogether, the fit and healthy couple has …

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Highlands Ranch couple wins weight-loss challenge

Life has improved drastically for Wilsons amid transformative journey

Posted

Six years ago, overweight by more than 80 pounds each, Kent and Linda Wilson felt emotionally exhausted and unfulfilled with life.

Today, down 175 pounds altogether, the fit and healthy couple has newfound passion and appreciation for life. They travel. They are more involved with their three grown children. They participate in adventures like scuba diving and kayaking.

The Wilsons went through a weight-loss journey that involved digging deep physically and emotionally. Their hard work paid off: in 2017 and 2018 they were recognized as winners of NeoLife's Be Your Best Challenge — comparable to the Biggest Loser contest.

NeoLife, an international nutrition company, hosts 30-day, 90-day and year-long weight loss and fitness competitions. Among the Wilsons' rewards were a $1,000 shopping spree, $1,000 in cash and a celebrity-style makeover.

The experience reaped greater benefits than dropping weight and winning prizes.

“I'm a new person,” Linda Wilson, 62, said. “I love life and I love me.”

Linda and Kent met 34 years ago at Mission Hills Church in Littleton. Originally from Minnesota, Linda moved to Denver for seminary school. Kent, a Colorado native, was living in the area at the time. The two now live in Highlands Ranch.

For decades they both struggled with their weight.

As a young child, Linda experienced sexual abuse that left her with lifelong trauma. Putting on pounds was a tactic to push people away and bury her feelings, she said.

Kent, who works in the IT industry, was traveling at least once a month and under extreme stress. He had family issues of his own, he said.

“Eating was a means of dealing with stress,” Kent, 59, said.

Reality struck six years ago for Kent; four for Linda.

Kent recalls the moment an employee at Men's Warehouse challenged him to stop requesting alterations and larger sizes and instead try losing weight. Linda remembers the morning she awoke and couldn't lift her arms above her waist without excruciating pain. Her weight was compromising her health.

Kent started seeing a trainer, John Gravina, twice a week for an hour at Northridge Recreation Center. Linda followed and worked with the same trainer once a week. They both continue to see Gravina once a week, and Linda goes to group fitness classes two to three times a week.

“It's a new life for them,” Gravina said. “To see them accomplish what they did is incredible.”

The couple set monthly weight loss goals and tracked calories and exercise on their Fitbits, which they continue to swear by. Their diet — once high in chips, cheese and crackers — now consists of fresh fruits, vegetables and lean protein.

They both started seeing counselors and turned to their faith for soul-searching and inner healing.

“There is a lot we were missing,” Kent said, “which is why we were stuck.”

Linda now works as the volunteer leader of a ministry at Cherry Hills Community Church for women who have experienced sexual abuse or assault. She also consults on weight loss and health.

Kent has learned how to manage his stress through exercise and healthy food choices. He no longer hides his body in black clothing and opts for colorful clothing.

The Wilsons are proof that it's never too late to set and achieve a weight loss goal.

“Anybody can do it,” Linda said.

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