Home Waynesboro man loses 161 pounds, 22 pants sizes in 54 weeks: How he did it

Waynesboro man loses 161 pounds, 22 pants sizes in 54 weeks: How he did it


jeff hokeJeff Hoke didn’t see a 400-pound man staring back at him in the mirror, but that’s what he was.

“When I was 400 pounds, I didn’t think I was overweight. You look in the mirror, and you don’t see it. I was healthy. I’m just a big eater. That’s what I told myself,” said Hoke, working out on an elliptical machine last week at the Waynesboro YMCA.

Hoke, 44, of Waynesboro, has lost 161 pounds over the past year, dropping from 409 pounds to his current 248.

It started, literally, with “baby steps” at the Y, Hoke said. His daughter plays AAU basketball for a team that practices two nights a week at the YMCA, and decided to try the cardio room located down the hall from the basketball gym.

“I remember my first goal coming in here was to get three minutes on the stair machine and five minutes on the glider. Now I go forever. But it’s a progression. At first, it was everything I could do to get those three and five minutes,” said Hoke, who had consulted with a doctor after being diagnosed with sleep apnea, and said he asked about options including diet pills and lap-band surgery.

“My doctor told me, if you want to do that, you can do it, but you’re going to have to find another doctor,” Hoke said.

“He told me that I was a walking miracle. Why you’re still alive, I have no idea. You should have already had a stroke. You should already be dead. You’re lucky to still be here. You need to get this turned around.”

Hoke was wearing size 56 pants, “and I couldn’t even get them buttoned,” he said. The sleep apnea was so severe that “I could be here talking to you and fall asleep in front of you and not know it.”

He was taking eight pills a day, to deal with the sleep apnea, allergies, acid reflux and high blood pressure. His doctor told him he was on the road to being diabetic.

Those issues are history, as are the size 56s. “I’m wearing 34s now,” said Hoke, who is pushing to drop another 8-10 pounds.

“I don’t even feel like the same person,” Hoke said. “I feel like I’m 20 years old. I weigh less than I did when I graduated high school. And getting the sleep apnea under control, I’m getting rest, finally. That’s a big thing, a huge thing.”

Looking back at where he was, Hoke can’t believe that he was able to do what he’s done.

“It’s very intimidating being that much overweight. When you’re 409 pounds, you don’t think there’s anything you can do to get it back on track,” Hoke said.

The key to Hoke: not depriving yourself. He still goes out on Saturday mornings for a breakfast biscuit from McDonald’s.

“You can’t starve yourself,” Hoke said. “You have to be able to enjoy something every so often. You can’t get rid of all of it. But you just have to be smart about it.”

And you have to keep moving.

“For me, if I just lift weights, I gain weight. If I just try to diet, I stay the same. But if I exercise and diet, it comes off,” Hoke said.

Hoke’s message to others who want to follow in his footsteps: “There are no quick fixes.”

“Having a membership at the Y doesn’t do it. You have to work at it,” Hoke said. “I understand. I didn’t do this until the last year. But you have to want it. And if you work at it, exercise right, diet, you can transform your life.”

– Story by Chris Graham



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