Like a lot of people, Quinton Aaron, star of the movie "The Blind Side," gained weight during the pandemic. After he contracted the virus in June 2020, he started eating lots of chocolate. That was because the COVID-19 virus altered his sense of taste. “Everything tasted the same, and it was disgusting,” he said. “I was trying everything, and chocolate was the only thing that had a decent taste.”
He began eating two or three candy bars a day — Kit Kats, Reese’s peanut butter cups and chocolate Paydays. “I had this craving for chocolate I never had before. It wasn’t good,” he said.
But he started paying attention to his body. “I’m at that point in my life where I feel like I’m getting older. When you get older, your body starts talking to you. And I started listening,” he said.
A few things grabbed Aaron’s attention and pushed him to focus on his health. At age 37, he had high blood pressure and knee pain. “When I was at my heaviest, I didn’t want to do anything that involved stairs or lots of walking because my knee would just give me so many problems,” he said. COVID-19 took a toll on him and a lot of people he cares about. And his family has a history of heart problems.
When you get older, your body starts talking to you. And I started listening."
“Something just clicked in me to make a change,” he said. “I want to be healthy. I want a family one day, and I want to be healthy enough to be present and active with my family.”
Aaron had lost weight on the keto diet in the past, but found it worked best for him when he was spending a lot of time training in the gym. Now, he was focused on stretching rather than training to help alleviate his joint pain, so he wanted to try a different weight-loss strategy. Here are some of the techniques that are working for him.
1. He follows the 80/20 rule
Aaron scaled back on many of the foods leading to his weight gain and health problems. He aims to eat more nutritious foods 80 percent of the time and some of the less-healthy foods he likes 20 percent of the time. “With some stuff, there was no way I was going to cut it out for the rest of my life, so I just cut it down,” he said.
He eats less salt, which helps control his blood pressure. And he scaled back on bread and sugar, including all that chocolate he had been eating. “I haven’t had a candy bar now in over three months,” he said. “The only sugar I get now is in fruit or orange juice — I can’t get rid of orange juice.”
2. He chooses smaller portions
“I was raised not to leave the dinner table until I finished everything on my plate,” he said. “But when you’re a big dude, you make bigger plates.” Now, he’ll use a bowl instead of a plate, and he’ll make one sandwich instead of two. If he feels satisfied after finishing a half-sandwich, he saves the rest for later. “I just make everything smaller,” he said.
3. He practices intermittent fasting
Aaron eats in a 10-hour window every day and gives his body a 14-hour break from food. “I take longer periods throughout the day where I’m not eating as opposed to where I am,” he said.
Intermittent fasting also helps him keep his portion sizes under control.
4. He’s mindful about when he’s full
Aaron notices when he’s eating and then pauses to take a breath. “When I’m eating, and then I take that first breath, that means I’m done. When I take that first breath, my body is saying, ‘Alright bro, we’re good.’ I can consume less food if I pay attention to my body when it’s saying it’s full.”
5. He’s aware of how emotions can trigger overeating
Aaron’s mother passed away shortly before he landed the role as Michael Oher in "The Blind Side". “I had to compartmentalize my grief — my mourning for my mom. I put that aside because there was a bigger task at hand that needed to happen, which was doing the movie and making the best of this opportunity, which is what my mom would have wanted me to do,” he said.
But when he finished filming, the loss of his mother hit him hard and triggered depression. “I packed on a lot of weight. I would eat even if I wasn’t hungry. That was how I coped, but it didn’t help anything. It was just a void filler. I just stopped all that mentally,” he said.
He said his mother always encouraged him to be the best version of himself, and she never got to see him in his best shape. “I want to dedicate my weight-loss journey to her. I want to get to that best version of myself,” he said.
Aaron weighed 559 pounds at his heaviest, and he’s lost 103 pounds. His blood pressure is normal. He’s aiming to lose another 56 pounds— that would put him at 400 pounds, which was his weight when he started filming The Blind Side. “If I can get there by May 10, that’s my mom’s birthday. That’d be cool. It’d be like my little birthday gift to her,” he said.