Angel Diaz can’t recall a time in his life when he was an average size. The 32-year-old Texan has always been big, but after getting married and having two children, his diet took a downward turn, causing him to hit his heaviest weight of 405 pounds.
But thanks to a push from friends, Diaz achieved an 186-pound weight loss transformation in little more than a year—and he’s not looking back.
“I don’t drink or smoke, however, my diet was absolutely horrendous,” Diaz told Men’s Health of his life before his weight loss. “I have never cared for vegetables and have always just eaten what tastes good. My diet consisted of pizza, fast food, sweets, and basically anything that tasted amazing.”
But if anyone knows what it takes to lose weight, it’s Diaz. When he was 18 years old, he dropped 125 pounds after a friend remarked on his weight.
“It really sank in that my weight was a problem, and I was only 18,” he said. In just six months, he lost a great deal of weight, but put it all back on (and then some) just months later.
“I gained all the weight I had lost, plus some shortly after. From basically 2006 to 2018, my weight kept increasing until I weighed 405 pounds.”
Then came his “ah-ha” moment. A close friend sent a group text message asking Diaz, in front of everyone, when or if he was thinking about getting bariatric surgery.
“I remember when I saw the group text thinking, ‘Why is he asking me this? Why is he over there thinking about my weight?’” he said. “I’ve always known I had a weight problem and an eating problem, but it was something that seemed so hard to overcome a second time that I tried to just avoid it.”
The text made him acutely aware of his own mortality. By then, Diaz was 31 years old and over 400 pounds.
“I was running out of time and I couldn’t continue to run from my weight problem,” he said. “If I didn’t do anything about it, there was a good chance I wouldn’t live to see my two kids grow up and I’d leave my wife to face life alone.”
Afraid of the risks associated with bariatric surgery, Diaz instead proposed a bet with his friend: He had one year and lose the weight on his own. If he lost, he’d go in for a consultation with a bariatric surgeon.
On February 5, 2018, Diaz kicked off his lifestyle change, first overhauling his diet to include vegetables and lean meats. He only ate foods that “served a purpose” for his health. He then tracked every single calorie that went into his body, averaging 1,500 calories a day. He only drank water, and avoided all artificial sweeteners and processed foods.
By the six month mark, he’d lost more than 100 pounds.
A few months into his new diet, Diaz added in a jogging and walking routine. Then got a gym membership, which he admits made him nervous.
“As such a big guy, I was certainly afraid of people staring or watching me and critiquing everything I did,” he said. “It ultimately was the best decision I made, as I have grown to love strength training. I am in the gym five to seven days a week and sometimes twice a day.”
Now, Diaz weighs 219 pounds. He’s happy, but he’d ideally like to lose another 20 pounds to hit his goal weight of 199. The number on the scale means less now; he’s more focused on building lean muscle mass and maximizing his weightlifting and strength goals. Of course, a few other positives have come out of his journey beyond losing the weight.
“I have definitely noticed a huge difference in my self-esteem, self-confidence, energy levels, and ability to focus,” he said. “It has also affected my mental health and reduced anxiety that comes with being morbidly obese. It has also encouraged me to focus on being a better person, parent, and husband.”
For guys like him, Diaz’s advice is simple: Take it one day at a time.
“Focus on the day in front of you, and that is it,” he said. “It is easier to challenge yourself to eat healthy for only one day.”