Weight loss

After weight gain, '650-pound virgin' back to the gym

June 6, 2012 at 10:56 AM ET

Three years ago America celebrated with David Smith as he showed off his new buff body on TODAY. After losing more than 400 pounds, he’d become the poster boy for extreme weight loss after his battle with the buldge was spotlighted in a TLC documentary titled "The 650-pound Virgin." 

But the makeover didn’t last. Over the past two years, Smith regained more than 250 pounds and he now stands as the cautionary tale for those who seek to lose vast amounts of weight without first dealing with the underlying problems that led to their obesity.

“I looked really good on the outside, but inside I was a terrible mess,” Smith told TODAY’s Janet Shamlian in a report that aired Wednesday.

Though Smith had, in his words, gone from “dud” to “stud,” he was jarred by that  metamorphosis each time he looked in the mirror.

“I saw somebody that didn’t know who they were,” he told Shamlian. “All my life I was a monster in my head. And all of a sudden to be, you know, this good-looking guy — it blew my mind away. I didn’t know how to deal with it.”

Smith seemed to be on the right path the first year after his dramatic weight loss. His life had turned around. He got a job as a personal trainer at a gym. He met his first — and current — girlfriend, Megan Povar.

But in the mirror Smith didn’t see the same person that Povar, and the rest of the world, did. His body never looked right to him.

“I wasn’t happy with the way I looked,” he said. “No matter what I did, I thought I could never achieve the perfect body.”

Frustrated and depressed, Smith first turned to alcohol and drugs for solace. Then he went back to his familiar friend — food.

“I’d eat in my car before I’d get home,” he told Shamlian. “Or, you know, if everybody’s out, I’d go and eat something really quick and then throw it away before they would come home.”

Though he felt he was letting people down, Smith couldn’t stop trying to fill his internal void with food.

“It was tough,” he said. “You know, a lot of people were counting on me to be inspiring. And I didn’t want to let anybody down. But I just felt so bad. And I didn’t know how to cope.”

And all the while, Smith knew he was once again putting his health at risk.

“I’ve gained more than 250 pounds in two years,” he said. “And with all that extra weight so quickly added to my body, I don’t know how I’m still living right now.”

Smith said he hit rock bottom when he reached 535 pounds. He’d dropped completely out of the public eye. He’d lost his job. And his close friendship with his trainer had become frayed.

But Povar stuck with him through it all. And maybe that’s what’s given Smith the strength to once again try to turn his life around. Just knowing that the woman he loves, loves him back through thick and thin.

Smith is now going to the gym again, determined to get back to a healthy weight.

“He’s finally ready for it this time,” Povar told TODAY. “Of course I’m going to be there. I mean, this is the moment I have been waiting for since he started gaining — for him to really want to be healthy again.”

For his part, Smith is convinced that this time the makeover will stick because it’s coming from the inside out.

“As much as you’ve worked on the outside, you still have to work on the inside,” he told Shamlian. “And if your foundation isn’t built up, you’re going to crumble down. And unfortunately I fell down. But I know I can climb back up.”

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