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After my daughter was born in 2013, I stopped working out almost entirely. I became increasingly sedentary and had never eaten very healthy before; gradually I gained over 100 pounds, peaking at 305 in 2019, when I was almost 30 years old. I felt awful, with no energy and no confidence.

I tore my meniscus playing in a kickball league with some friends from my office. I remember the doctor saying, “Well, at least you’re not an athlete, right?” The way she said it implied that since I wasn’t very fit, the injury wouldn’t really affect my life—I could just continue as a couch potato.

Around the same time, my wife, justifiably upset that I didn’t have the energy or motivation to help out with our kids, and that I seemed unable to change the negative lifestyle I’d fallen into, called me out on it. After an epic fight, with screaming on both sides, I stormed out of the house. Only later, driving home, did I realize that I just had to commit to a healthier way of living. I wanted to commit to a change before it was too late.

I started by cutting all the snacks out of my diet and doing some low-intensity training on my wife’s elliptical, making sure I exercised at least an hour every day. I switched to lean meats, and even though I’d never been keen on vegetables, I found I could eat spinach, kale, and collard greens almost every day.

After about a month, I started to see some noticeable changes in my face and in the way my clothes fit. That gave me the motivation to finally tackle what I considered to be the bane of the exercise world: prolonged cardio. I started lightly jogging around my neighborhood and worked slowly until I eventually graduated into running at least four or five miles as part of my daily routine.

I tried to incorporate the idea that wellness was a state of being into my identity in an effort to make this lifestyle become a permanent part of who I was. I watched a lot of YouTube videos to learn how to eat and how to exercise properly; Athlean X and David Goggins were two of my primary sources of motivation. David Goggins actually inspired me to take on one of my biggest fitness challenges to date: running a half-marathon every day for a week. Now I want to train for an Ironman.

The biggest source of motivation, however, was the people around me. For the longest time I was afraid that people would laugh at the chubby guy next door trying to lose some weight. I realized I was just projecting my negative self-imagine—in reality, the neighbors offered nothing but support and encouragement. People would give me a thumbs up, clap their hands, and say “Great job man! Keep it up!” as I jogged past their house.

It’s amazing to think I dropped 105 pounds in about a year and a half, from July 2019 at 305 pounds to 200 pounds in December 2020. I feel more confident; I’m able to look people in the eyes again, and I’m more comfortable speaking up at work because I’m more resolute in who I am and what I can do. My wife and I appreciate each other more now, both emotionally and physically. Sometimes now I’m the one turning heads, and I can’t describe how good that makes me feel. —As told to Jesse Hicks

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