HEALTHY LIVING
07/17/2013 08:29 am ET

I Lost Weight: Opening Up About His Sexuality Led William Pratt To Lose 220 Pounds

William Pratt

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Name: William Pratt
Age: 32
Height: 6'3"
Before Weight: 424 pounds

How I Gained It: My eating and weight problems began when I was a kid. I have been overweight or obese since I was 8 or 9 years old. I turned to food at a very early age for comfort. When I was very young, I always felt different. I didn't know why, but I just didn't fit in with the other boys. I didn't have many friends and food became a friend for me. I was raised by two very loving parents and we were devout Southern Baptists.

As I got older, I knew what made me different: I was attracted to boys. This terrified me, because in church I had learned that I would go to hell for this and everyone I loved would hate me. I knew I had to keep this secret at all cost. I hated this part of me. I would pray to God to make it go away, or that He would just end my life so I didn't have to feel this constant pain. Food eased my pain.

I had the typical American diet: lots of processed, high-sodium, fatty, fast foods. I ate the wrong things, but I was also bad about skipping meals. I would skip breakfast and not eat until the late afternoon, and by then I was starving and would overeat. I was an emotional eater. Any time I because upset or stressed out, I would eat. Eating numbed whatever emotion I was feeling at the time. In a way, it made my problems better, for a little while. I suffered from high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, acid reflux and bad depression and anxiety. I stuffed my attraction to men somewhere deep inside of me and tried to never think of it. I fell in love with and married my best friend. We have two great kids.

My dad passed away when I was 23. Once again I turned to food. I gained 100 pounds in a year. When I was 25, I began going to therapy for depression. I tried many antidepressants but nothing helped. My wife encouraged me to go see a therapist. We discussed losing my dad, and still I felt no better. Then my doctor asked me the question that changed it all. He asked me to tell him the one secret that I had never wanted anyone to know. I knew the answer instantly, but I struggled with it for a few weeks. I couldn't tell him. Finally, I simply blurted out the words, "I'm gay." Two little words that have now changed my whole life. Instantly I felt so much better. I felt the weight of the world come off of my shoulders.

That was the real beginning of my journey, but it still took me a few years to actually start losing the weight. There were lots of issues to deal with. I had to tell my wife, I had to tell my family, and most importantly my wife and I had to figure out what this meant for us and our marriage. We separated so I could live my life as a gay man and she could find someone else. But we were both miserable, and I gained more weight. After a lot of soul-searching and heartache, we both decided we wanted to be together. We had listened to society tell us that we could not make our marriage work, but we were miserable because of it. I had to listen to my heart. The truth of the matter was I'm bisexual. I had to learn to accept myself and love myself just as I am. My wife and I got back together and here we are now!

Breaking Point: In February 2011, my mom had her fourth heart attack. While I was sitting in her hospital room, I knew one day soon this could be me.

How I Lost It: I went home that afternoon and began walking. At first just a short walk around the block about killed me. My back hurt, my feet hurt and I was out of breath. I promised myself that I would walk every day, and each day I would go a little farther than I had before. I lost a little over 40 pounds just walking. I decided to join a gym, and began working with a personal trainer. My trainer was also a dietitian. She helped me start a healthy eating plan and taught me how to work out effectively and safely. I often say that she believed in me until I could believe in myself. I can never repay her for what she has helped me do, get my life back.

When I first began working with my trainer, I kept a food log and she would look at it from time to time and let me know what I needed to change. The biggest changes were losing all of the processed and packaged food, quitting eating at restaurants and switching from sugary drinks to only drinking water. I also began eating breakfast every day, and then eating every two to three hours after that. On an average day I eat about six times. The rule of thumb for grocery shopping was to go to the produce department, meat, dairy, but skip the aisles. The aisles are where the processed foods are.

After working with my trainer for a year, I decided I could help others the most by becoming a trainer myself. I truly love helping other people get their lives back and regain self confidence in themselves. I get asked all of the time if I really lost all that weight in just 14 months. The answer is yes and no. The physical part of losing the weight, yes it took me 14 months, but I began the mental part years before. I believe that morbid obesity comes from somewhere else other than just having an eating problem. I believe the question you have to ask yourself is not how did I get so fat, but why. What made you dislike yourself so much that you allowed yourself to become so unhealthy? For me, the key to my success was being honest with myself about myself. Only then was I ready to move toward self acceptance and loved myself enough to change.

After Weight: 204 pounds
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