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3 Inspirational Before-and-After Fitness Journeys

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There’s nothing more exciting than dramatic before and after photos. They inspire us, give us hope and prove that nothing is impossible. More than that, they incite a “how on Earth is that possible?” response, igniting a fire for more information within us. How did they achieve those results? What’s their secret? Could I ever make such a drastic change to my own life?

If basketball superstar Draymond Green, quadruple amputee Amanda Northrup and, of course, Mark Wahlberg can do it, so can you. The jump from “before” to “after” is a lot more involved than a side by side screenshot might seem, but with hard work and dedication, those results are completely achievable.

Draymond Green

When you think of a weight loss before and after, professional athletes at the top of their game aren’t really what comes to mind. But for Draymond Green, the top of his game wasn’t good enough and he felt like his weight was holding him back from achieving on-the-court greatness. Before his second season as power forward for the Golden State Warriors, he waged an entirely different kind of offense to tackle his extra weight.

Green ditched junk food and relied on healthy, low carb meals to lose nearly 20 pounds. It meant giving up his favorite pizza and tacos, but to look better, feel better and perform at his best on the court, it was worth it.

“I catch my breath faster,” Green said in an interview. “I move a little faster. I can get up off the floor a little better. And it feels a lot better on my knees… I feel great. I think it’s going to help me out a lot.”

Green is living proof that dedicating yourself to your health can pay off big time. Since shedding the weight, he’s be named to the NBA All Defensive Team, won an NBA Championship with the Golden State Warriors and was named an NBA All Star. Not bad at all.

Amanda Northrup

Amanda Northrup is a quadruple amputee. What’s your excuse? A delayed diagnosis of meningococcal meningitis resulted in the forced amputation of all of her limbs, but it saved her life – a life that she is living to its fullest. Now in her thirties, she’s a total fitness and lifestyle inspiration, never losing positivity and determination.

Northrup’s love of fitness started at around age 14 through none other than supermodel Cindy Crawford. Through Crawford’s fitness DVDs Amanda found a path to her best self and took that mentality to the next level when she decided to enter a Ms. Wheelchair Pageant. Northrup won First Runner Up and, because of her winning personality, was given the Ms. Congeniality award. Her platform for the pageant centered around improving fitness and health for people with disabilities.

“It isn’t just about looking good,” she says, “it’s about feeling good. If you feel good, that changes how you see the world and how you feel about yourself. It gives you some power, and you don’t feel so powerless.”

She puts that motto into action every day, kicking butt and taking names in the gym. But she admits it hasn’t always been so easy. Northrup has struggled with depression, even at some points battling suicidal thoughts. But rather than looking to medications for help, she first turned inward and used health and wellness to bring herself out of her depression.

“I think when people experience trauma, we’re not really taught how to deal with it,” Northrup reflects. “When you survive something, you’re left with an energy and you don’t know what to do with it.”

What did she do with it? She worked out. “It’s always how can I become stronger and feel better about myself. Having a disability is very hard, but fitness has changed the way I see things and myself.”

Northrup uses that motivation to constantly push herself forward, getting better and feeling better every day.

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg isn’t your typical before and after story either. You might be thinking, “Mark Wahlberg has always been ripped!” And you wouldn’t be wrong. Wahlberg’s before and after changes are much more subtle than most, since in each iteration he’s chock full of muscle. He can pull off this kind of metamorphosis because he’s in complete control of his body.

Take his transformation for the 2011 film The Gambler. He shed a staggering 60 pounds for his role – the most weight he’s ever lost for a film. “I went from 197 to – the lightest I’d ever been in a movie was in Boogie Nights, I was 138 – so I wanted to beat that,” Mark said in a post screening interview. “I beat it by a pound, so 137. I was losing weight while we were shooting the movie too, so continuity kind of went out of the window.”

His extreme weight loss left him blue in the face, however. According to Us Weekly, his lips at points during filming were blue due to lack of nutrition. Perhaps losing that much weight wasn’t the healthiest option, but Wahlberg is so in tune with his physical self that he knows exactly how far to push it – in either direction.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Wahlberg bulked up, gaining 40 pounds for his role as a bodybuilder in Pain & Gain. He ate constantly to gain the weight, waking up at all hours of the night to make sure he was meeting his goals.

“I’d have a big meal and go to bed at 9 p.m.,” Wahlberg told Men’s Health, “and then I’d get up at midnight to eat again, and I’d still be full from the last meal.”

He lifted like a maniac, too, hitting the gym five days a week to build 40 pounds of muscle. “I’d leave the hotel at 4:30 in the morning – just as the nightclubs were letting out on South Beach,” he told Muscle & Fitness magazine. “I’d walk in the gym as the door opened at 5:00 a.m. every day.” Talk about dedication.

Draymond Green, Amanda Northrup and Mark Wahlberg are three people who worked hard for their dramatic transformations. If you’re setting your sights on your own “before and after,” look to them for the inspiration, results and dedication you need to fuel your own journey.

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