Latham’s weight fluctuated his entire life. One yo-yo diet and weight loss pill after another left him feeling heavier than ever – but after an accident left him nearly crippled at the age of 30, Latham ballooned up an extra 40 kilograms in just four months. He suffered a double blowout to his knee and twisted his spine, herniating three discs and fracturing a vertebrae. The only way he could cope was through food.
In November 2014, Latham couldn’t believe he had hit 180 kilos. For a while, he just gave up. He ate whatever he wanted. He couldn’t do his physical therapy correctly because his back pain was too much to bear. He couldn’t get himself up off the couch alone and often, his husband would have to help him force his body up. Every single movement required effort, Latham says.
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“I had a really big issue with my husband having to do so much,” he says. “He had to do everything, the housework, the cooking, everything. I was just a 180-kilogram immobile lump.”
Because his husband hated doing yard work, Latham tried helping out by mowing the lawn, but even doing that was a struggle. After finishing just one length of the yard, he would have to stop, sit down and adjust his back, which meant mowing the lawn took him two days sometimes.
Then something inside of his brain snapped: “I realized I’m a big control freak, and I always tried to control every single thing except the one thing in the universe that I have complete control over, which was my health.”
After his doctor told him that he could have fibromyalgia, Latham had had enough.
In January 2015, he decided to make a change once and for all, so he did some research. Because he was still recovering from his injuries, any type of physical activity was painful, so he started by overhauling his diet. Before, he was chugging eight cans of Pepsi and two to three energy drinks a day. When he ordered a pizza, he ordered one for just himself, and if he went through the Taco Bell drive-thru, he’d spend $16 on the dollar menu.
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Latham and his husband went through their kitchen and cleared it out. Any kind of junk food or processed snacks went in the trash. He also cut out his biggest vice: sugar.
“I didn’t realise it was addiction until later on,” he says. “I could drink a soda and it would give me almost a euphoric feeling. It would calm my nerves and help me de-stress. It gave me a temporary fix, so I would just continue to drink them throughout the day so I could keep that feeling.”
He cut the soda out cold turkey, and while the first week was hell, replacing it with flavoured sparkling water helped him get his fix while his body got used to the change.
Then he started packing his plate with proteins he had never tried before, like salmon. He started eating fresh vegetables like broccoli, kale, and brussel sprouts. In the first week alone, he lost 6 kilograms.
There were weeks that his weight loss slowed down, and some weeks he didn’t lose weight at all, but after a year of changing his diet, he dropped 45 kilograms.
While moving was still painful, Latham finally began dragging himself to the gym. He started with the elliptical, since it was easy on his joints: The first week he only went for 10 minutes at a time, and then he slowly worked up to longer sessions. Fast forward a couple of months, and he was up to an hour.
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“When I started going to the gym and working out, I would go and get a lot of looks and it really bothered me a lot, but I’m glad that I didn’t let it push me away from it,” Latham says. “When I started actually talking to those people, I found out they weren’t judging me – they were looking at me with respect.”
He made friends with the guys he saw working out every day and asked them about their diets and exercise routines. In the past four months, Latham has finally worked up to strength training.
He now spends an hour and a half in the gym every morning 5 to 6 days a week, starting with 20 minutes of cardio. Then he spends the rest of his time focusing on building muscle. He loves to work his upper body, especially his arms (some of his favourite moves can be found in our list of the best exercises for your arms). After getting his excess skin surgically removed, he can finally show off a set of abs at 90 kilograms.
The best part? Now he craves the gym instead of soda, his energy levels are through the roof, his relationship is better than ever, and he’s never felt happier.
Fitness has also become one of Latham’s biggest passions and he hopes to become a personal trainer one day, so he can help people that are experiencing all of the same things he did.
“I’ve been there, I know what’s it’s like mentally and physically,” he says. “It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.”
This article was originally published on MensHealth.com