‘I knew I was going to die.’: 500-pound man loses a whopping 350 pounds for his ‘hero’ son with autism

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“My name is Zach Moore. Back in December of 2013 I stopped at a fast food joint and got some ‘Orange Chicken.’ I ended up with food poisoning which lasted 8 days and hospitalized me. Tired of being sick all the time, mentally, emotionally, and physically run down from being overweight, morbidly obese with high blood pressure, sleep apnea and vertigo – the list went on and on – and taking the advice from my cardiologist, I knew this was the pivotal tipping point of my life.

My wife took a photo of me in the hospital as I was praying for my life. The thought and idea of how my family would survive without me, without a husband who promised to always be there, to help and take care of them as we grow older, a dad who never had a chance to give his son the life he wanted to be able to, I couldn’t bear it. That was the moment I knew I was going to die if I didn’t try to help myself. That spark then lit a fire to keep me going. My family drives me, and they inspired me to once again look in the bypass surgery.

500 pound man lies in hospital bed looking up at ceiling
Zach Moore

It was January 2014.

New year, new goals. I had already lost 40 pounds from the food poisoning. I was 460 pounds. From there I stopped drinking soda, smoking, and eating sugar. I started to watching my carb and starch intake. I got crazy about it and tried what worked for my life. That’s where my phrase I live by started: ‘Do what’s best for you.’ I began to look and read into proper nutrition, what I was actually consuming and putting into my mouth with both food and liquids. What was in the food? What was in the liquids? How did they help and hinder me?

I started to switch proteins such as red meat for white meat. This minor switch was something truly major and it was amazing to help my journey at the very start. I didn’t realize how truly important proper food nutrition was with weight loss. I switched to chicken, turkey and fish, only eating healthier, leaner, less fatty meats. We also used smaller plates, cups, bowls and silverware. We minimized everything to visually show what a true serving was and to better understand sizes.

500 pound man sit on rock ledge with wife and son with autism
Zach Moore

May 14, 2014

I had Gastric Bypass Surgery. I had a Roux-en-Y. Surgery did not go as planned, and my two-hour surgery turned into 7+ hours due to complications. I was 392 pounds. I managed to lose 108 naturally before surgery through dieting, starving myself and using the liquid diet. I was scared for my life.

After about a month I was fully healed from surgery and off the liquid painkiller. I got the approval to start Slow Start (I could only walk, no weight training, no weight lifting), so I purchased a pair of shoes and I bought Gel Inserts to help ease the pain that walking did to me. I hit the ground WALKING (42 steps on day 1) and never looked back. I would walk 10,000 steps every day which is equivalent to 3.5 miles. There would be moments it was 15 minutes to midnight, and I would be walking up and down my hallway trying to get my extra 300 to 400 steps in. Over the course of a week or a month, those small steps truly add up after a year or two.

500 pound man lies in hospital bed before gastric bypass surgery
Zach Moore
500 pound man lays shirtless in hospital bed holding up a peace sign before gastric bypass surgery
Zach Moore

December 2015

I lost way over 300 pounds by now. Mission Accomplished. I saved my life and was so proud of what I did.

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Man takes selfie in bathroom mirror with saggy skin after gastric bypass surgery
Zach Moore
500 man who lost 250 pounds after gastric bypass surgery takes mirror selfie in public restroom
Zach Moore

Side by side selfie in car of man before and after gastric bypass surgery

July 2016

After months of testing, setbacks, delays and making sure my body was at its healthiest it could be, I underwent one of the most extreme skin removal surgery ever. I had 5 surgeries at once, it lasted over 9+ hours and they lost track at 2,400 stitches. The surgeries I had were a FDL Tummy Tuck, Hernia Repair, Muscle Repair, Mastopexy, and a Butt Lift.

I adjust slowly to change and it was only in December 2016 when I could noticed my visual size, from then to now, with the skin gone and all. I’ve struggled with my imperfections, trying to make them perfect or hiding them from the world, but I truly mean well. I am trying to inspire everyone I can with the positive side of losing weight, but with ups, there are downs.

Man who had gastric bypass surgery takes mirror selfie in bathroom with saggy skin
Zach Moore
Man who had gastric bypass surgery stands shirtless with marks on his chest to remove saggy skin
Zach Moore
Man who had gastric bypass surgery stands shirtless after plastic surgery to get rid of sagging skin
Zach Moore

February 2017

After losing 350 pounds, my left knee needed to be replaced because of my prior obesity. Then I needed emergency surgery on my opposite foot for a broken, fractured and dislocated toe two days later, on February 10th. I was stuck in bed for 23 days straight. Depression hit me and just like that, I felt like I was 500 pounds again. I shut out the world and deleted my social media accounts. After everything I had been through, depression kicked my butt again and made me take two steps back in life.

Over the course of February, March, April and some of May, I began pushing myself once again, more than ever before, going to physical therapy twice a week at UF in Gainesville, Florida. It was a painstaking 2-hour drive one way, but I was focusing on me, my life and redirecting myself on what I needed to do next.

Man who had gastric bypass surgery sits in hospital chair with knee brace on
Zach Moore

May 26, 2017

On 36 hour notice, I underwent another Umbilical Hernia Revision Surgery. The surgery was supposed to last 15 minutes and be two incisions. By this time in my life, I knew better. It’s never easy. Two hours and 15 minutes later, I was done with the eight incisions in my stomach.

Man pointing to stomach in hospital bed after umbilical hernia revision surgery
Zach Moore
Man holds up shirt in mirror selfie after umbilical hernia revision surgery
Zach Moore

In total, I went through 10 surgeries in 10 months and have now lost 350 pounds. Now it is time to share my story. I think it will help the world and likely save many lives.

My life is constantly changing. I’ve been through a lot, more in the last year than most ever will, which does cause for moments when I don’t realize what I have accomplished. I don’t give myself much credit for the crazy feats I have overcome. I have been through so much, but I tend to forget and block it out, so I write about it in posts on social media. I am trying to become more involved with sharing my journey on ‘HOW I LOST 350 POUNDS.’

Collage of 500 pound man before and after gastric bypass surgery and losing 350 pounds
Zach Moore

I have emotional issues that I deal with daily, but I try my best. Lately the struggle has been difficult. I’m human. But with all the new messages of support and well wishes, I have many reasons to persevere once again. I would be dead today if I did nothing. I at least stood up and said, ‘Screw you, obesity.’ I’m going to fight for my life. You may win, but I’m not going down without a fight.

Side by side of man before and after gastric bypass surgery holding a light saber in kitchen
Zach Moore

My wife has been my everything throughout this weight loss journey and transformation. It would have been extremely difficult at times without her support. I’m proud that we together have held our vows ‘for better or worse, in sickness and in health.’

Husband and wife smile in selfie in hospital bed before and after husband went through gastric bypass surgery
Zach Moore

My son is truly the main inspiration behind my motives. Only last year in 2017 did we find out that he has autism. It explained why he had difficulty growing up and why I knew at my size, I wouldn’t be able to ‘Dad’ as my father did. I wanted to be prepared as any parent would. He truly is my hero.”

Father who underwent gastric bypass surgery swims in body of water with autistic son
Zach Moore

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Zach Moore, 37, of Pierson, Florida.  He has been chronicling his weight loss on Instagram. Submit your story here, and be subscribe to our best love stories here.

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