In 2017, a disastrous Valentine's Day dinner with his partner forced Darnell Settles to wake up to some harsh truths. He was overweight, and the people in his life were worried about his health. In a recent episode of transformation webseries Brand New Me, Darnell, now 38, shares how he struggled with his weight for much of his adult life.
"There was a time when I'd get out of bed at night, like in the middle of the night, and go to Taco Bell, because I just didn't have control," he says. "If I ordered a pizza, I'd eat the whole pizza... I ate whatever I wanted to eat, whenever I wanted to. It was very much compulsive. I was addicted to food."
At his heaviest, Darnell weighed 560 pounds. But after his wake-up call, he decided he needed to make some changes. "The first step in my weight loss journey was going through my kitchen, looking at nutrition labels, and throwing away anything that I considered bad," he said. "That same day, I also went to the gym."
Over the next two years, he lost a staggering 250 pounds, and now weighs 309 pounds.
"I feel very comfortable in my body now," he says. "I am physically fit, there's not a lot of situations I'm going to get myself into where I can't manoeuvre. When I was at my heaviest, I was not able to bike ride at all. Now that I weigh 309 pounds, riding a bike is so much easier."
"I used to pray to not be this super-duper overweight, but I felt stuck and I felt trapped," he says. "So now, when I wake up in this body, it's like a dream come true. It's like, this is me."
One visible side effect of such dramatic weight loss is Darnell's loose skin, but he is unfazed by that. "I don't really feel uncomfortable with my loose skin. It's my body, right?" He says. "I would for sure rather have loose skin than be overweight."
Darnell's advice for anybody who is at the start of their own weight loss journey is simple and practical. "Understand protein, fat, carbohydrates," he says. "Learn how to read nutrition labels. Buy a food scale. And then figure out some kind of target for yourself."
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