Justin Willoughby shows us how he lives a Vital Life with his inspiring 600-lb. weight loss
By Lisa Payne
At 16, most teenagers are busy learning the responsibilities of a first job, getting a driver’s license, and keeping grades up. A peak time for growth spurts and stumbling into a new version of ourselves, being a teenager can be tough enough. But for Justin Willoughby, 16 signified a far greater time for change than most people could ever imagine struggling with in their lifetime.
Growing up not unlike other kids his age, eating hot dogs, chips, and other processed foods; Justin grew up on whatever was in the fridge. However, for him food became something more. To cope with anxiety and panic attacks, food became a seemingly insurmountable addiction. And at age 16, Justin weighed in at an incredible 799lbs. “Even though I was full I kept eating,” he said. “Food was like a drug for me.” His weight became a target for bullies and added to his mental and physical struggle.
After a scare in the hospital, doctors told Justin if he didn’t get healthy and lose the weight he could die. He knew he was meant for more and that his life had significant value. “Why am I wasting my life being enslaved to something that had such control over me?” he had thought. At first the doctor-prescribed nutrition plan allowed him to begin losing weight. While this initial guidance taught him what it meant to eat fewer calories and foods lower in fat, he took it upon himself to do his own research. He learned that fat-free was not better, soda needed to go, and that protein was a huge help to staying fuller longer.
Alongside transforming his eating habits, Justin had to learn what it felt like to get moving. At first, exercising meant working with a physical therapist and an occupational therapist at his home. They gave him exercises to do while laying stationary in bed and also helped him complete daily tasks. The process, however, all began with a single step. “Every step I take, I want to take another,” he says.
And at this incredible turning point, Justin changed his life by making a commitment to his faith and to making the decision to no longer be a victim. “I don’t want food to be my fix anymore,” he says. He says that the keys to weight loss and optimal health is to eat natural foods at least 90% of the time and to make small changes to your diet. “We should never ever let food consume us. We should consume food,” he advises.
This motivation-of being constantly challenged, is how he started to see change. “I went from 799lbs. to roughly 199lbs,” he said. From stationary workouts, to his now regular 6 days a week in the gym, Justin combines a balance of cardio and weights. He also attributes running outside in nature and getting lost in his workout music to helping ease his anxiety and providing stress relief.
Now practically a whole new man, Justin is giving back by helping others transform their own lives. One Step Nation is a movement he created to help inspire others based off the things he’s learned along the way. “Proof is in the pudding. You lead by example,” he says. “It’s knowing people are trapped in their own ways. It’s robbing them of living their lives to the fullest. I believe I was gifted with this story to show people it is possible to change,” he says.
Everyone has a different starting point. And much like getting on a train, it’s all about just taking that first step on board to going places!
Read more about Justin and One Step Nation on his website: justinwilloughby.com.