- Heaviest weight: 360 lbs.
- Weight now: 235 lbs.
- Total weight loss: 130 lbs.
- Height: 6’5”
- Age: 35
- Where he lives: Chicago, Illinois
Williams grew up as a big kid—he was 6’3″ and 275 pounds as a high school freshman.
“I was 300 pounds by junior year, but I told myself it was okay—I played sports. That was the excuse I gave myself. My heaviest—at age 20—was 360 pounds, however, I spent the majority of college and my 20s between 330 and 340 pounds. I partied often, and hard, in college. I also ate often and hard … I drank, ate junk food at all hours, and used tobacco multiple times daily. I’d grown up a big kid; I thought I was supposed to be an even bigger adult. I overate, telling myself it was okay—that big guys like me are supposed to eat two Subway 12” BLTs.”
Eventually, Williams realized he was tired all the time—and he was only in his late 20s.
“I would be socializing with one half of my brain while the other half desperately scanned the room for a place to sit. When I got home from work all I wanted to do was sit on the couch or lie in bed. Colds and coughs seemed to linger for a long time. Being under the weather is one thing, but I was always feeling run down. I knew I was unhealthy, and I knew my diet was playing the leading role in how I felt.
“There wasn’t one particular lightbulb moment that switched on my weight loss or changed all my habits. Rather, it’s been a continual string of lightbulbs that has lit the way for me. I began connecting the dots. As a guy in my late 20s, I wasn’t bouncing back as fast as I once did. How would I feel in my 40s, 50s? I was stuck and full of excuses. But I made the decision to have an open mind and begin exploring the ways I could improve my health through diet.”
When he finished college and cut back on partying and late-night pizzas, he naturally lost some weight. Then, at age 30, he challenged himself to go a month without eating any added sugar.
“My body needed a reset, and I needed to educate myself on what the human body needs to fuel itself. Netflix and Google searches to the rescue! It was news to me that 100 calories of Coke was not equivalent to 100 calories of almonds. I needed to learn that our bodies need fiber, that our immune health begins in the gut, and fiber fuels that system. I started powering down quinoa, almonds replaced chips as a snack, and black coffee would become my energy drink. Rather than judge a food before trying it, I just ate it. I have found—with the exception of some crazy-ass peppers—plant-based foods are generally not scary! I tried old foods in new forms; I’d always hated cooked spinach as a kid. Assuming incorrectly, I thought spinach tasted the same raw as it does cooked. I was wrong—it does not taste the same. Raw spinach is so much better!”
Once he made fruits, vegetables, and whole foods his priority, “the results were incredibly steady,” Williams says.
“In September 2014 I weighed over 310 pounds. By September 2015, I was in the 230s. It. Felt. Amazing. I felt like I could move, [and] I wasn’t constantly tired or overheating. I was no longer worried that I was being judged for my size or being sweaty all the time. The more I took care of my body, the more I started to free myself from many of my physical insecurities. In an odd way, the more I focused on my body, the less I obsessed over it. I felt more like myself.”
Williams says his open mind helped him achieve his weight loss goals.
“I’d grown up a big guy, figuring I always would be ‘robust.’ Overweight men are expected —sometimes by society and sometimes by themselves—to eat large quantities of food. Often fried, starchy, and/or meaty foods. I realized I was making a lot of my dietary decisions based on how I was marketed to, or how the culture expected me to eat.
“Education was another hurdle; I needed some basic nutritional information. Documentaries like Sugar Coated on Netflix caught my eye. After that, I continued researching; Michael Pollan’s work has also been very illuminating.”
“Getting my weight below 250 pounds was truly unbelievable,” he says.
“I truly never, ever thought I’d be any less than 300 pounds for my whole life. I’d accepted that—thought it was fact. So, to be 250 was unreal. I had given myself an amazing gift. As great as it was to see the number on the scale, the mental clarity I gained was even better. By adding whole foods to my diet and removing, or limiting, processed foods, I felt like I’d lifted my brain from a mild fog. I just felt better from head to toe on a cellular level, because I was fueling myself with what a human body needs to feel its best.”
When it comes to weight loss, Williams says consistency is key.
“Find small healthy habits you can build into your daily routine. Remove a few small, unhealthy habits. Nothing too drastic. Once you feel confident in your new routine, start slowly adding new healthy foods and choices [and] removing the bad. You’ll surprise yourself [with] what you’re capable of by making incremental changes.”