A few years after high school, John Glaude received a wedding invitation. A series of events followed that changed how he thought about his weight: First, he needed to find clothes. At 360 pounds he wore a size 56 pant and 5XL shirt, which he found after a search. Then he had to ride in a car for 13 hours. When the then 20-year-old got out after the drive, he felt like he was going to pass out and fell back into the car.
“That really really scared me … I was very aware of my own mortality. I was very very afraid of dying,” Glaude, now 28, a content creator in San Diego told TODAY. “I genuinely didn’t like to be alone because I thought if I have a heart attack no one would be around to call the cops or call an ambulance.”
At the time of the wedding, he downplayed it and joked about it. But his anxiety kept building. He enjoyed the wedding and thought his outfit was perfect. But he saw a picture of himself after and was disappointed.
“I thought I looked great. I was stoked about my outfit,” he said. “Looking at the photos, I was not super stoked about it anymore.”
Those events helped him realize he had to make a change. His real ah-ha moment came when someone on a reality show talked about how making different choices helped him lose weight.
“I was like, ‘All right, I am going to wake up tomorrow and I’m going to change,” he said. “I remember feeling … a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
A lifelong struggle with food
Glaude was overweight growing up. He learned early if he didn’t grab food right away at mealtime, he wouldn’t eat.
“Food was always first come, first serve, and if you wanted seconds you better eat fast,” Glaude said. “I learned to eat fast, which is something that I still do today.”
Eating too much too quickly and not moving around enough contributed to Glaude slowly gaining weight.
“I was what they would call husky in middle school,” he said. “Then in high school I was the biggest kid.”
Glaude thought that being overweight was inevitable and often made jokes at his own expense to cope with the bullying. Some teased him by calling him “cupcake,” but he took ownership of it.
“I was the funny fat guy, so if you knew me as cupcake in class, I was very obnoxious, loud and over the top,” he said. “It definitely helped me feel like I could get out of my shell a bit, but a lot of what I did was constantly make fun of myself.”
‘The common sense diet’
When Glaude decided it was time to lose weight, he wasn’t sure where to start. He went to the store and bought water and sandwich ingredients.
“I didn’t know what was healthy,” he said. “That was the start of my transformation right there.”
Glaude started tracking what he ate and learning about nutrition with MyFitnessPal and his diet soon evolved to what he now calls “the common sense diet.”
“I took out soda, fast food and junk food, which was actually a pretty large part of my diet and I replaced it with other things,” he said. “I knew soda was bad for me. I knew I shouldn’t be drinking it.”
Cutting these foods spurred his weight loss.
“I was close to 400 pounds and so cutting out those things results resulted in pretty quick weight loss,” Glaude said.
Glaude lost most of his weight over a year and a half, and he’s been able to maintain his loss for the past six years. Right now, he weighs about 210 pounds, 150 pounds less than his highest weight. At one point he weighed 180 pounds when he competed in a physique show, but he felt that weight was too low.
“I wasn’t healthy when I was 180 pounds. I was way too thin,” he explained. “The weight I gained, I personally feel is what I would call good weight.”
He doesn’t follow a particular diet. Instead he just tries making smart choices when it comes to what he eats. He’s training for a triathlon and he’s exercising anywhere from 10-14 hours a week. But that also means he has to eat more so he can sustain such a rigorous training program.
“I just eat to fuel my day,” he said.
Glaude stresses that he lost the weight because he changed his eating habits. He didn’t exercise for a while at first because he was afraid to go to the gym.
“This is something I say a lot: Weight loss happens in the kitchen. Fitness happens in the gym,” he said. “I lost most of my weight without going to the gym.”
But he believes exercise helps him keep a consistent weight.
“It’s helped add muscle, which is incredibly important for maintaining,” he said. “Adding muscle for me has helped tremendously.”
Losing weight and maintaining his loss also helps build Glaude’s confidence.
“I always felt inadequate. I always felt like I’m not capable of doing a lot of the other things that the other kids were capable of doing,” he said. “With losing the weight and actually being successful in that, it showed me that I just can’t make excuses. If I want to do something, I truly can do it.”
He shares tips for others hoping to make some healthy changes or lose weight.
1. Accept that you’ll make mistakes.
When Glaude first started losing weight he wasn’t sure what to eat. At one point, he restricted his calories too much and started binge eating. Working through how to eat and how to lose weight in a healthy way required a lot of trial and error.
“I don’t know who exactly said it but don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough,” he said. “My tip is to understand you’re going to mess up … you’re not going to be perfect so learn to forgive yourself.”
2. Be consistent.
Taking baby steps when it comes to weight loss helps.
“Just make small changes over time,” he said. “They will lead to big results if you are consistent.”
3. Think of food as fuel.
Sometimes foods, such as sugar or carbohydrates, become demonized. Then people feel some attachment toward eating it or not. Glaude found when he didn’t label foods “good” or “bad,” eating felt easier.
“People call it moralizing foods so they make some foods good, like chicken and broccoli, and then some foods bad, like chocolate chip cookies,” he said. “They all have calories and they all have macros. Some might be more useful if you’re trying to lose weight. Some might be more useful if you’re trying to put in a ton of calories.”