I used to play two hours of football every day in high school. The coaches would scream in my face, yelling at me to push myself. After high school was over, I lost my motivation to stay fit. The coaches weren't around, so I thought, "Who the hell cares?" I gained weight—a lot of it. I started breathing more heavily. I slept badly. And when my doctor checked me out, he said I wasn't going to make it past 50 if I kept living the way I was living. But when you're that heavy, you feel stuck. (Learn how to lose 20 pounds of fat in just 4 weeks with the Belly Off Diet!)
The Wake-Up Call
In 2009 I went to a New Year's Eve party planning to confess my feelings to this special girl. I was about to make my move when I caught my reflection in a mirror behind her. I was disgusted. To avoid rejection, I said nothing. But I resolved to do something about my weight.
I was an emotional eater, chowing down when I was stressed. I lied to myself too. I'd order a large vegetable pizza and say it was healthy because it had green peppers and onions. But 6,000 to 7,000 calories a day was anything but healthy. (Video: Try one of these tasty 200 calorie snacks) Portion control helped me scale back. I packed my lunches, like an egg sandwich on wheat toast. I learned to have a granola bar or protein shake between meals so I wouldn't overeat later. I limited pizza to an occasional slice with friends. (Avoid a dining-out disaster with these Lean Belly Restaurant Rules!)
In January 2010 I started jogging. At first it was only 20 minutes or so, but then I worked my way up to an hour, using what happened on New Year's Eve as fuel. After I lost some weight and gained confidence, I joined a team weight-loss class at a gym. There I found the inspiration to stay committed, just like in my football days. After 2 weeks, I had lost 17 pounds. Later I started lifting. Now I have a daily weight-training regimen to build muscle. And I have to say: I'm looking good.
Every time my doctor sees me, he's in shock. My blood pressure and sugar are normal, and the sleep apnea I had? Gone. He's even recruited me to help his wife lose weight. Today I'm inspiring others with my transformation—like my friend, who just lost 40 pounds. We're keeping each other on track.
Weight Before: 390
Weight After: 235
Vitals: Raheel Siddiqui, 30, Baltimore, MD
Occupation: Insurance agent
He reached his goal in: 1 year
You can transform your body, too—no matter if you have 20, 30, or 50 pounds to lose! For tips, motivation, and expert advice, sign up for the Men’s Health Belly Off! Newsletter.)
Weight Loss Success Story: Raphael Siddiqui
How a Former Football Player Lost 155 Pounds
Image: Steve Boyle