Need inspiration to put down the fork and start moving? Consider the remarkable story of Justin Willoughby, who dropped nearly 600 pounds over a decade through sheer determination without the help of weight-loss drugs or surgery.
As a teen, Willoughby suffered from stress and severe anxiety and turned to food for comfort. He kept eating and felt addicted to food. His weight climbed to a terrifying 799 pounds when he was just 16, and the 5-foot-8-inch Willoughby feared for his life.
â€œThere were so many emotions going on in my head: fear, anxiety, am I going to live or am I going to die?â€ Willoughby, now 27, told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Friday. â€œSo all those things were just rushing through me.â€
His doctors didnâ€™t know what to do. â€œTheir hands were in the air,â€ Willoughby said.
â€œI mean, what do you do?â€ he said. â€œYou have a 16-year-old who weighs 799 pounds.â€
He relied on his faith, and began his first workout, a painful, single first step.
â€œI had a belief in God,” he said. “That was a significant part.”
He started eating smaller meals and made healthier food choices. He began exercising, though it wasnâ€™t easy.
â€œMy first exercise was just standing up and sitting back down,â€ Willoughby said. â€œThat was very painful. My back started hurting, my legs started hurting. That was a workout for me.â€
But it was enough to keep him going, and he adopted the motto One Step.
He continued exercising, and now works out about 90 minutes a day, eventually reaching a low weight of 207, according to the Huffington Post. Through weight lifting and increased muscle mass, he now weighs 235.
Guthrie congratulated him on his new body. â€œThis is amazing,â€ she said. â€œYouâ€™re a shadow of your former self.â€
Willoughby, who had skin-reduction surgery after his weight loss, hopes to inspire other people to lose weight and become fit, and is a motivational speaker, author and personal trainer, according to his Facebook page.
Itâ€™s a world away from his life as a boy, when he turned to food to manage his emotions.
â€œI was always a little bigger, bigger than my classmates,â€ he said on TODAY. â€œI was starting to get addicted to food. I loved food. If I could do anything, Iâ€™d marry food. I loved it that much. I began to get addicted to it and I went to it a lot.â€