Training for his first Ironman triathlon-a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run-Joe Wines, age 49, will tell you he has more energy now than when he was 20. And he doesn't just credit physical activity.

"The food I put in my body is used to fuel my active lifestyle. I eat healthy, which is different than being on a diet," Joe says. But for this EatingWell advertising sales account director, life wasn't always this way.

In 2009, the 5'10" Long Beach, NY, resident tipped the scales at over 270 pounds. Raised by an Italian mother who cooked a traditional Mediterranean diet, Joe ate nutritious meals growing up. But, as an adult: "I smoked, drank and ate too much," he says. "A big part of my persona [at my former company] was that of a hard-partying, fun sales guy." When diets didn't stick and exercise alone didn't drop the pounds, Joe's doctor put him on medications for weight-related chronic illness.

In 2010, Joe's children confronted him, concerned about his health. "My children are my number-one priority, and that's when the light turned on," Joe says. "I realized this wasn't about a diet or more exercise. I had to transform my whole life."

Today, Joe weighs 193 pounds. In addition to staying active, he's gone back to his Mediterranean roots with a focus on fresh vegetables and fish (try our delicious Mediterranean diet recipes). And he's off all his medications. "Life to me is still about sharing great times with friends and family," Joe says. "But it's much more rewarding from my new, healthy perspective."

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January/February 2016