In junior high, kids taunted Andy Albertson by calling him “Andyopolis” as if he were big enough to be a city. Once, a teacher who rewarded students with candy refused to give some to Albertson, and said in front of the entire class: “Andy, do you really want that? I thought you were telling me that you were trying to lose weight.”
The bullying just caused Albertson to rely on food for comfort. By high school, the 5-foot-5-inch teen weighed 240 pounds. At his heaviest, he weighed 317 pounds.
“That’s the cycle you are in. You get sad so you eat to feel better and then you have eaten and you feel bad again and you eat again,” Albertson, 22, told TODAY.
But he broke this cycle and, in a little less than a year, he lost 176 pounds, dropping to 141 pounds. He’s recently been building muscle, so he’s up to 146 pounds.
“I learned to control my mind. I learned when I am wanting those bad foods, it is just a thought and I am 100 percent in control,” he said.
Albertson, of Wichita Falls, Texas, wasn’t always overweight. As a child, he played baseball, basketball and soccer. Around fifth grade, his poor eating habits, which included soda and fast food, caught up to him and he started gaining weight. He then dropped out of baseball and soccer. Over the years, he would try working out and dieting, yet his weight never budged.
“I used to tell myself, ‘Oh I don’t care what people think. It doesn’t matter.’ But deep down inside ... I hated the way I felt and looked,” he said.
As his weight increased, his discomfort grew. Albertson went to his college classes early so he could sneak into the back row without anyone seeing him. Finally, he decided to change.
In January 2015, he started going to the gym and running on the elliptical for an hour a day. His weight started to drop: He lost 20 pounds the first month. He eventually lost 60 pounds, but then his progress stalled.
“I had to do something or I would gain the weight back,” he said.
That’s when he started working with trainer Jerry Hughes. He told Hughes he wanted to weigh 225 pounds and Hughes designed a workout schedule — they work out together three days a week, with Albertson doing cardio every day — and diet plan.
In a month, Albertson lost 20 pounds and over 24 inches. Each month, he continued to lose more weight.
The two settled on a weight-loss goal of 175 pounds, but Albertson struggled with the journey mentally. After losing 140 pounds, Albertson tearfully told Hughes he felt good and was done.
“I mentally checked out. I convinced myself and surrounded myself with excuses of why I couldn’t lose,” he said.
But Hughes said: “You lost 140 pounds — if you were truly done you wouldn’t be looking at me with tears in your eyes.”
That motivated Albertson to get back into the gym, helping him lose the remaining weight.
“I had no idea this would be the outcome,” he said.
He shared some tips on what helped him lose the weight.
1. Do the research.
While Albertson maintains a strict diet, he still goes out to eat. But he researches the menu to pick a healthy choice.
“I just get on my phone and check the nutrition of whatever it is I am going to order,” he said.
2. Have a buddy.
While Albertson started his weight-loss journey alone, his mother, Mary, also changed her eating and exercise habits and has lost 60 pounds. Mary keeps him accountable.
“Having that person there when you are struggling helps a lot,” he said.
3. Give it a shot!
Just trying makes a difference.
“Go to the gym and begin changing the way you eat,” he said. “Seeing the results, that will keep you motivated."