Tim Lighthart nearly missed the birth of his daughter because he couldn’t fit into hospital scrubs. He always wanted to lose weight, but bringing new life into the world raised the stakes.
“I was dying,” he tells Men’s Health. “I wasn’t going to see my daughter graduate. I wasn’t going to be there for her children.”
By the time he was 30, Lighthart weighed between 450 and 500 pounds, thanks to a stressful and sedentary IT job that left him relying on junk food. He would often eat to cope with stress and depression.
“My family has not had a good run at living long lives,” Lightheart, 37, says. “And I was watching mine slip away.”
He was right to worry. The extra weight made it impossible for him to function normally: Lighthart was constantly sick and tired. He was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and took four medications to manage high blood pressure and cholesterol. That was in conjunction with pain killers and muscle relaxers. During a heart scan, the hospital used a special scale to accommodate his weight.
Returning to a healthy weight wasn’t easy. In 2011, Lighthart received a sleeve gastrectomy, which restricted the amount of food is stomach could hold. He quickly dropped more than 100 pounds, but gained back 50 within a year.
“It was a great tool,” he says. “But mentally I still wasn’t prepared for this. It wasn’t enough.”
Terrified he’d return to his pre-surgery weight, Lighthart and his wife began the Keto diet—partly to set a better example for their daughter. He incorporated strength training and credits his trainer for providing more than just a generic workout routine.
“He gave me the knowledge to be self-sufficient instead of feeding me just enough information to keep coming back,” he explains.
Combining diet and exercise allowed him to drop to 240 pounds from his post-sleeve high of 350. This new weight was nearly half of his all-time peak–and it only took him seven months to achieve.
“I was literally 50 percent of the man I had been,” he says. “I was down from a size 60 pants to a 40.” He now wears a size medium shirt after previously buying a 4x.
But Lighthart’s wardrobe isn’t the only thing that’s changed since losing weight. New now feels more confident and social.
Family is his greatest motivation.
“I needed to be better for my wife and daughter,” he says.
However, motivation, in his experience, can flag, which is why it’s important to hit the gym even when you’d rather sit on the couch.
“Eventually that discipline turns your changes into a habit, and your diet, or your workout goes from being a health choice to being a life change.”
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