When Justin Weber’s son, Jonah, started enjoying playing on the floor, Weber wanted to join him. But at more than 375 pounds, getting on the floor was not as simple as Weber wished it were.
“Sitting on the floor was very challenging because I couldn’t get up easily,” Weber, 34, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, told TODAY.
While Weber was always a "husky" child, his weight didn’t become a problem until after he graduated from college.
“I wasn’t paying attention to what I was eating. You put on a certain amount of weight and you feel ashamed of the weight gain and you find comfort and solace in food,” he said. “You don’t see a way out."
He stopped weighing himself when he reached about 375 pounds, but still felt bad about how he looked and felt.
When he realized his weight was preventing him from being the father he wanted to be, he knew he had to do something. He had fond memories from his childhood of riding bikes with his parents and he wanted to be active and engaged with Jonah, now 2 years old.
“I needed to change. I was really afraid of dying because of my weight,” he said.
One of Weber’s co-workers was also trying to lose weight and he recommended that Weber try an app called Lose It! Soon after, Weber installed it and started playing with it. The app — which has calorie counts for food and drink, and enables you to track exercise — allowed him to record what he was eating. That’s when he realized how many calories he devoured in a day.
“I couldn’t even believe I was consuming 6,000 a day,” he said. “It just spiraled out of control.”
But when he started tracking what he ate, he made better food choices. He ate two pieces of pizza instead of an entire pie. When thirsty, he replaced sugary drinks with water. After he dropped about 75 pounds, he felt inspired.
“Once I hit 300 pounds that was a milestone because I hadn’t been under 300 pounds for a decade,” he said.
He started exercising, simply getting off the couch and walking. That along with learning healthier habits helped him shed even more weight. He’s recently been training for a century bike ride — a 100-mile ride — which he’s completing with his mom.
“I hadn’t ridden a bike in a decade,” he said. “Right now, my goal is more of being healthy, staying healthy, and seeing what my body can do.”
In total, the 6-foot-1-inch teacher lost 175 in two years. He is happy with his weight and is focused on leading a healthy life for Jonah.
“I thought I was destined to be overweight, obese, for the rest of my life,” he said. “I am capable of a lot more than I thought I was.”
Weber provides tips that helped him lose weight.
1. Keep it sustainable.
Lots of times people turn to crash diets to lose weight. But as soon as they finish, they resume their poor eating habits. By learning how to eat healthy foods and appropriate serving sizes, Weber gradually lost the weight and understands how to keep it off.
“The most you really can lose in the app is two pounds a week, which is a healthy sustainable rate. It’s getting you used to those healthy changes,” he said.
2. Keep records.
When Weber tracked how much he ate, he felt stunned. By recording what he ate for a day or week, he understood what dietary mistakes he was making.
“I didn’t even realize how many calories I was consuming,” he said. “Unless you are logging it … You are not seeing what you put in or out.”
3. Believe in yourself.
Weber felt like he would always be overweight because losing it felt impossible. But he realized he could do it if he put his mind to it.
"I hope that people who hear (this know) there is hope. That is something I had lost pretty early on was a sense of hope," he said. “There is a chance."
For more inspirational stories, check out our My Weight-Loss Journey page.