TODAY | January 23, 2012
>>> time for look at me now, "the joy fit club ," induction of the newest member, ben richards .
>> a 25-year-old personal banker from columbus, ohio, who lost 150 pounds. we'll meet him in just a minute. first let's take a look at his story.
>> my name is ben richards and i once weighed over 360 pounds. i have always been a bigger person. growing up, my friends would make jokes about my weight. i pretended like it didn't hurt, but deep down it did. i tried many diets but nothing seemed to work and i just kept gaining weight. i went to an amusement park when i was about 15 and tried to ride two different roller coasters only to be forced off because the seat wouldn't lock. i never went back to an amusement park because of my embarrassment. when i was 17 my father passed away from brain cancer . that's when my weight really spiraled out of control. i would eat whole pizzas and a dozen wings in one sitting. i gained over 80 pounds in four years. on my 22nd birthday my sister pulled me aside and said she just wanted me to be healthy. she told me that she wanted me to be around for a long time. it touched me and for some reason it clicked. i started counting calories and slowly eased exercise into the equation. using that simple formula, the pounds just started coming off. today i'm 150 pounds lighter and have kept it off for over three years. i have also been able to help my fiancee, cousin, best friend , and his sister all lose weight . i wish i could help everyone get healthy because it is such a great feeling.
>> what a doll. what a beautiful family. before we ask ben to come out, we're here with joy bauer who's going to tell us all about his bad eating habits.
>> he simply did this by learning how to track calories and he had a great support system. his sister. he also teamed up with his best friend and the two of them were men on a mission. they went to the gym, watched their calories. the biggest learning lesson when it came to calories was this calorie bomb . hitz favorite meal, a double-crusted pizza. two levels here.
>> two slices in one.
>> on top of each other. exactly. he had multiple slices. buffalo wings . it was well over 4,000 calories. so now what he does is he makes his own using flat bread pizza bottoms, whole grain, skim milk mozzarella, marinara sauce and piles it up with vegetables. a fraction of the calories.
>> you retrain yourself.
>> yeah. he craves it now. craves it.
>> take one last look at ben , his before picture. all right, ben . come join the joy fit club . oh my gosh!
>> whoa, whoa. look at what's inside there. you look great. the support of your sister, i mean, clearly that was really what helped you, wasn't it.
>> yeah. it was huge.
>> and your fiancee, by the way, happens to be standing -- rachel, just behind us. a lot of people, i don't know if they have that kind of family support, but how much did that influence you and help you out?
>> it was everything. couldn't have done it without her.
>> she got to your heart. she said i want you to live. i want you to be around.
>> yeah. she didn't care how i looked. she wanted me to be healthy.
>> and you can do everything you weren't able to do. you do a lot of exercise. what do you do?
>> i ran my first half marathon last year.
>> good for you.
>> it was grief that spiraled you. your dad.
>> it was comfort food .
>> you're engaged. you have your life together.
>> all right, guys. god bless . if you need help with your diet, head to today.com to join joy's 25,000 pound