Two years ago, I came to the realization that I was unhappy, depressed, and I had lost all my dreams for my future. For the longest time, I was hiding the fact that I was killing myself. I hid behind the smile and goofy personality, but people could see past that – they could see I was unhappy.
I graduated high school and was in good shape, I was an athlete, popular, going to college. I had the world at my fingertips. And then I got caught up in the college life – eating unhealthy food, partying, not working out – next thing I knew, I was 25 years old and pushing the scale at close to 600lbs. This was not normal – even with being 6’9”, being that heavy is not even close to being healthy.
I would struggle doing normal daily activities from putting on my socks to getting in and out of vehicles, stuff that most people take for granted. That’s when I decided I needed to change – but I thought the only way to change was to get on a weight loss show. I thought it would be my magic cure-all – I would get on the show, lose a bunch of weight, and live a happy life. What I didn’t realize however, was that it was much deeper than just the weight.
The emotional toll that my weight put on me was tremendous. I had given up on life and any dreams I had – I figured I would be single for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t have the kids, wife, and family that I had always dreamed of. After being turned down for multiple weight loss shows, even having one of them flying me out to LA for casting, then having a film crew come to my house. I then figured its my life, no one will do it for me. So I took it into my own hands!
I started walking and doing light cardio, I was afraid to step out of my comfort zone. My mom actually joined in on the journey with me, she was my workout partner! We would pick up the intensity of the workouts, but only to a certain level. Then one day I was contacted by a local trainer (Jakae Francis – FIT Personal Training) who wanted me to do some design work for her and she was going to give me some training in return.
What I didn’t know is she had something else in mind. After my first workout with her, (which was the most brutal workout I have ever done), she offered to take me on as a free client. She wanted no compensation in return, all she wanted was to see me healthy. She saw in me what I took years to see in myself! The only thing she asked was that I pay it forward. She also knew my mom was working out with me – so she also took on my mom. (My mom has lost 80lbs so far – her life has completely changed as well!)
So time went on I was meeting with her numerous times a week, watching my food intake – I was kicking my own butt in the gym (while Jakae’s training was kicking my butt as well), but what really changed was how I started to view food. I looked at food a whole different way. I had to totally change the way I was thinking – when people say that it’s a lifestyle change – they are 100% right!
One year into my journey, I was 233lbs down. I had my life back – I had the drive and passion that I was missing for so long – I was healthier and happier, but I knew I was not finished. Close to two years down the road now, I am down a total of 280lbs and soon will be a certified personal trainer, training alongside Jakae. Once I get my certification, I will be picking a client to pay it forward with.
I am also looking to start speaking and sharing my story with people. I want to change people’s lives, I want them to know that true happiness is possible. It will be hard, but it will be worth it! Over these past two years, I have been truly blessed with many things. I have the most incredible support system – not just my family, but friends, and even people I have never met! I created a page called The Steele Project to reach out and inspire people – but funnily enough, it’s the people on there that have inspired me. These people are who keep me going.
In November, I had skin removal surgery, and this was another life changer for me. The surgery was completely paid for by my family, friends, and even people I never met – through a golf outing fundraiser and a gofundme page. After explaining my story to the folks at Aspire Plastic Surgery, Dr. Lee decided to give me a big discount for the procedure as well.
Having a procedure like that done, and not paying a dime out of my pocket was incredible. If that wasn’t enough, an area dentist office (K&L Dental) offered free dental work to me – my whole life has been turned around, and like I said I am truly blessed beyond belief!
I never in my wildest dreams thought that this normal guy from a little town called Wabash, Indiana would reach so many lives just from losing some weight. I have reached people from all over the United States and even in different countries. My story will also be featured on The Steve Harvey show where I thank my trainer for helping change my life. I just really want people to look at me and say “Because of you, I didn’t give up.”
I look at my life now, and think how just two short years ago I was unhappy, unhealthy, and lost all hopes and dreams. Life is such an incredible gift that we take for granted. So don’t sit back and watch it pass you by, get up and get moving. Go live the life you were meant to live! You might stumble and fall, you might have setbacks, you might think there is no point to continue, but I promise you one thing, you are strong enough to get back up, dust yourself off, and continue on your journey! This is no one’s life but your own!