‘The scale said ‘error,’ which meant I was heavier than 375 pounds’: Man loses 180 pounds eating ‘junk food’ every day

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“It’s hard to pinpoint when weight became an issue for me as I’ve always been bigger than the average person, but I’ve always excused it due to my height. After I graduated high school, things began to really spiral out of control for me. Over time, I found myself having to shop in the big and tall sections of specialty stores, but I told myself it was due to my height. Soon after that, I realized more and more people began referring to me as ‘Big guy’ and ‘Big man,’ but that was also due to my height… I think. Later, I found myself unable to fit on a roller coaster at a large well-known amusement park because I couldn’t pull the seat belt over my body… But that was due to my height too, right?

The big turning point in my life came in 2010, when my younger sister was diagnosed with diabetes. This was a surprise to me because I wasn’t sick and I was even bigger than she was. I knew if she was diagnosed with this life altering disease that I couldn’t be far behind. It was at this moment I knew something needed to change.

Man poses for a photo in a blue shirt with wings on it
Courtesy of Anthony Brown

Over the past 10 years, I knew I had let myself go, but I was unaware of how far things had gone. Luckily, a friend of mine owned a specialized scale that was capable of measuring weight up to 375 pounds. I figured I would go over to his house to try and get a baseline figure. Instead though, I was shocked at the realization that the scale was unable to measure my weight. Instead of reading a number, it said ‘ERR’ which means ‘error,’ which really meant — I was heavier than 375 pounds.

Man battling weight issues smiles for a photo at an event
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I tried several different diet plans during my weight loss journey (keto, low carb, eating clean) which all worked to some extent, but I found myself questioning the purpose and sustainability of these diets. ‘Are these diets really something I wanted to do the rest of my life?’ and ‘Why is it that some people are able to eat all this junk food, candy, pizza, potato chips, and stay thin?’ ‘Was it really just a matter of them having this ‘Magic metabolism’ and I was doomed to be eating broccoli and chicken breast for every meal for the rest of my life, or was it something else?’ It was then I realized, it wasn’t about what you ate, it was how much.

Man stands by a wall in baggie jeans a white long-sleeved button down shirt
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Man looks caught off-guard for a photo at a wedding
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I decided to start trying to count calories. This would allow me to eat whatever food I wanted, whenever I wanted, as long as it kept track of the calories. I went online and found a calculator that could tell me an estimate of the number of calories my body needed every day to stay at the same weight. At my weight of over 375 pounds, I needed 3,400 calories to maintain my current weight, so I decided to eat at a 1,000 calorie deficit, which was 2,400 calories a day, which would allow me to lose around 2 pounds a week. What I ate for those 2,400 calories was pretty much whatever I felt like eating, as long as it was within my calorie limits. This included pizza, burgers, potato chips, French fries, candy, fast food, etc. My only rules were, stay in a caloric deficit, and if I can’t count it, don’t eat it.

Man battling weight issues smiles for a photo while holding a Disney lollipop
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For the first 6 months of eating at this deficit, I was able to lose weight without setting foot in the gym or working out in the slightest. It wasn’t until I hit around 300 pounds that I decided to start working out, and that was only because I was afraid of getting loose skin due to the rapid weight loss. Like most overweight people, I was intimidated by the gym. I didn’t want to be the ‘fat’ guy that everyone was looking and laughing at, so I decided to just use my apartment gym. The first routine I did was a 3-day-a-week full body routine using primarily dumbbells, as my apartment gym didn’t have much else to work with. Using this plan for about 3 months, I was able to develop a good base and eventually get to the point where the weights we had in our apartment gym were no longer heavy enough for me to get a good work out. At this point, I started going to the gym, and began using a 5-day, one muscle group a day split, which is the same workout routine I still use to this day.

My biggest motivation came from watching the numbers on the scale drop, even though I was eating all the food I loved to eat. I felt almost as though I was doing the impossible. What kept me from giving up was knowing what lied before me if I was to give up. I didn’t want to be sick. I didn’t want to die young. I had so many plans for my life, and I was determined to see them out, and not to let something like food and my weight hold me back. Another motivation was all the people who doubted me. At this time, I knew of no one else implementing this type of diet to lose weight. People would ask me all the time about my diet plan, and when I would explain how it worked and the types of food I would eat, they would have something negative to say about it, so I wanted to prove them wrong.

Muscular man takes a shirtless mirror selfie while holding a pizza
Courtesy of Anthony Brown

Once losing the weight, I noticed people tended to treat me better. I mean, people never really disrespected me or anything, but I definitely noticed people were more social and more receptive of my presence. But maybe that was due to my increased confidence. Speaking of confidence, I did regain a lot of the confidence I had lost over the course of the weight gain. I had always dreamed about doing television shows and doing some sort of modeling and/or show business, so I began trying out those kinds of jobs, which is something I would have never done while being overweight.

Muscular man looks serious during a desert photoshoot
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Since losing the weight, I really haven’t changed the way I eat or work out since I started on this weight-loss journey. I still weight train 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, working one muscle group a day (Chest, Back, Shoulders, Legs, Arms). Saturdays and Sundays are usually my rest days, but I have been known to do a little cardio on those days depending on how my diet has gone. As far as diet is concerned, I still try to eat at a calorie deficit, but one thing I did incorporate to make dieting easier is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is when you only allow yourself a certain window of time to eat all of your calories, and then you fast for the remainder of the 24 hours. I incorporate an 8-hour eating window, and a 16-hour fasting period. This helps to eliminate the urge to binge eat all day, which is something I struggle with.

Man shows the before and after of his weight loss journey
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The biggest habit I have that I feel has made the best contribution to me being able to keep the weight off, has been to still meticulously count my calories. I still follow the rule ‘if I can’t count it, I don’t eat it’ and that keeps me accountable with the things I’m eating. I do however, allow myself one cheat day a week where I’m able to eat whatever I want even if I am unable to count the calories.

In terms of working out, I treat the gym as a normal job. Just because you don’t feel like going to work one day, doesn’t mean you were able to skip out on your job, and I feel the gym should be treated the same way. But at the same time you have to remember that life happens, and if something important comes up, make sure to put life first, as the gym will still be there tomorrow.

Man takes a mirror selfie while flexing his back
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Motivation is something I’ve had trouble with lately since losing the weight. I was interested in trying to get my body fat as low as I could, and once I tested my body fat percentage and hit a 3.5% body fat (which is considered unhealthily low), I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was then I found new motivation and helping others reach their goals using the same methodology that I did. I am now working with three people of different ages and demographics, and they are all losing weight the same way I did, while eating all the types of food they enjoy.  Watching them succeed now has become my motivation and drive.

The biggest thing I struggle with now is binge eating. With being on a diet for so long, sometimes you get the urge us to ‘forget about it’ and eat everything that comes to mind. So sometimes I find myself in the pantry eating everything I can get my hands on. But just because I mess up one day, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. I force myself now to count the calories even when I’m binging, so I can see just how many calories I’ve overindulged and use the next few days to correct that with a stricter calorie deficit.

Man takes a shirtless mirror selfie while flexing his biceps
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My best advice I would give to someone looking to begin a journey of weight loss would be that weight loss comes down to one key factor, eating less calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight per day. It doesn’t matter if the diet is low-carb, high carb, high-protein, etc. Calories in vs. calories out is the main factor when losing weight. Sure, you can use low carb, or eat clean (oatmeal, chicken breast and broccoli) but it all comes down to the number of calories per day you are taking in.  The most important thing is finding a diet that works for you, that allows you to eat the foods you would like to eat, and this something you can stick to long-term.

Man takes mirror selfie at the gym
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Also, remember, this journey is not a race but a marathon. If you stumble and make a mistake along the way, you have the ability to fix things, and get back on the path. It’s only by sticking to the journey that you will eventually reach the end. And trust me, it’s well worth it.”

Man looks caught off-guard for a photo while holding a child's hand
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This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Anthony Brown, 34, of Riverside, California. Do you have an incredible weight loss story? We’d love to hear from you. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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