'I Lost Nearly 300lbs in Less Than a Year'

Growing up I was always a big kid, every single doctor I went to would say I was healthy and energetic but could lose some weight. I was born and raised in Orange County, California and I currently live in Anaheim, California with my girlfriend and grandma, running a video editing business and a taco business.

Back during elementary school, and through junior high and high school I was gradually gaining weight. In high school, I was between 450lbs and 480lbs but I played football and wrestled. I was always active but obviously I ate more than I worked out.

I was raised to have confidence, my family never allowed me to think I was too fat to do something. I was taught how to be hard working, respectful and a well rounded person, but I didn't grow up learning how to eat well, even though my grandparents and parents would try and get me to cut back.

When I finished high school I stopped wrestling and football, but I was still eating the same. I'm 5ft 10inches and my weight was above 500lbs and climbing. Though I never thought that I was fat and no one was going to like me, I did adapt to being fat.

Weight loss, Surgery, Health, Fitness
Weight loss, Surgery, Health, Fitness

I didn't go to theme parks because I knew I probably wouldn't fit on the rides and when I went on an airplane I would buy two seats. After I turned 20, I noticed I was getting a little bigger so I started going to the gym. I walked in, around 550lbs, and I told the trainers I wanted to do MMA. And I went there almost every day for the next few years, and I learned how to eat better, and I got down to about 370lbs.

I lost all the weight by myself and I wanted to have excess skin removal surgery but I couldn't at that time, and was a little bummed. So time went on—I was always on a diet but the weekend would come around and I'd eat fast food.

A couple of years later, my grandpa, who had cancer, was told that he only had around six months to live. I'm a real family person and I was really close to my grandpa, so I put all my work on hold as I wanted to care for him.

I was there for him every day until he passed. I don't drink alcohol or do drugs, but my escape during those six months was food. It was hard, and I was eating a lot, even when I wasn't hungry.

I was either taking care of my grandpa with other family members, eating, sleeping or crying. I'd never been a soda person, but around that time I picked up drinking soda. I was just eating whatever was in front of me, it was like I was a garbage disposal.

My grandpa passed September 25, 2018, and I stayed on with my grandma, still sad and eating a lot. McDonalds, Pizza, you name it, we ate it. I've been fat my whole life but this was the first time I'd ever felt any depression.

I went home after about six months, and shortly after that I got on the scale. It read, "599 ERROR."

That was the biggest I had ever been. I had this secret that I was more than 600lbs and my family didn't know. I literally went from being around 490lbs a month or two before I started caring for my grandpa, to 600lbs.

I realized that in order for me to look or feel anything like a normal human being I would have to lose 400lbs—I had to lose the equivalent of two humans to be a normal size. So I spent a few days really depressed.

But then I snapped out of it. I called my buddy at the gym and I told him that I wanted to get back into MMA. I told him I'd messed up, and I had to fix it. I started doing boxing classes. And then I had a lightbulb moment. I realized that I had taught myself how to be on a diet but I had never taught myself how to eat properly.

I felt the only way I could reset the way I think about food was to treat myself like a little kid again and re-teach myself how to eat. Because I was never taught that as a kid. And no judgement to my family, I chose to keep eating.

I felt that gastric sleeve surgery—where your stomach is reduced by up to 80%—would be best, because if I stayed dedicated I could keep the weight off. But before I got the surgery I wanted to lose 100lbs so that no one could say I only lost weight because of the surgery. The gastric sleeve is just a tool. You could still eat a pizza you'd just have to have smaller portions. So you have to eat the right food and weigh your food. I was dedicated, lost 100lbs myself and went for the surgery in November 2019.

It's recommended that you wait four to six weeks after surgery to begin exercise, but I went back after two and half weeks. Of course, most people would choose to wait, and some of my family thought it was too soon, but I chose to go back.

I am sticking to a food plan from a nutritionist, I'm working out and eating the right foods. I don't have fast food or soda and drink a lot of water. Most of what I eat is organic, and I try to eat vegan once or twice a week.

My day starts with a protein drink, a couple of hours later I'll have some trail mix, and maybe some organic frozen pineapple for a snack. Then I'd have turkey, organic cream cheese with pickle and mustard for lunch. For dinner, I might have chicken or beef and rice. I exercise six or seven days a week—MMA, Boxing, Ju Jitsu and sparring.

I'm not at my goal weight but I feel so much lighter, and everything's so much easier. My shoe came untied the other day and I took it off to tie it. Then I realized I don't have to do that anymore. So I put my shoe back on, and I bent down and I tied it. Those little accomplishments keep me motivated.

My gym got closed down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I got a mountain bike. I've been averaging 20-40 miles a week and 2000 feet of incline and I love it. I'm this guy who was 600lbs and is now riding up this steep hill. I was already on the road to saving my life, but getting the bike during the pandemic allowed me to get closer to that goal.

Weight loss, Surgery, Health, Fitness
Weight loss, Surgery, Health, Fitness
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The last time I weighed myself I was 337lbs, down from more than 600lb. It's been about 11 months since I started this whole journey. I want to have surgery to have excess skin removed next year sometime, and my goal weight is now 210lbs.

It doesn't matter if you're 10lbs or 300lb overweight, weight loss is not easy. But anything that's worth having is worth fighting for. You just need to stay motivated and focused. I was always happy with myself, this weight loss didn't change me as a person, it changed the way I look and it changed my health. My family are all motivated by what I'm doing and they're so proud of me.

I hope to motivate other people now, because when people realise their self worth, there's nothing that can stop them. You're worth the sweat and the tears. I think people forget that anything really is possible if you put your mind to it.

Anthony Lopez runs El Jefe Taco Catering and Shoot First Productions in Anaheim, California, and is working with nutritionists and fitness trainers to create his own health program. You can follow him on Instagram at @heavytomodified

All views expressed in this piece are the writer's own.

As told to Jenny Haward