For Robert Treglia, being 602 pounds caused pain in nearly every aspect of his life.
Physically, his back, knees and feet hurt so much that at one point he was taking more than 2,400mg of ibuprofen every day, significantly increasing his risk of organ damage and heart attack. Romantically, the now 35-year-old began to feel a strain on his marriage, as his wife took on every domestic responsibility from cleaning and laundry to cooking and grocery shopping. Emotionally, Treglia spiraled into a dark place where he felt like he was just “sticking around” to earn money as an IT professional — but didn’t have much purpose otherwise.
“I was basically waiting to die,” he recalls. “I thought, what am I even here for?”
He knew bad habits had gotten him to this point. Even though he describes himself as a “husky kid,” Treglia kept maintained his weight by playing sports like soccer and tennis in high school, but when he didn’t play these sports in college, his weight began climbing quickly. After getting married and starting a sedentary job, the Pittsburgh resident says the pounds kept piling on, especially with multiple fast-food spots within a quarter-mile of his home.
Although sitting at the computer for hours was a large part of his weight gain, it also turned out to be his most valuable resource when it came to a starting point.
While browsing Reddit, he found a subthread about MyFitnessPal and how people were using the app to lose weight simply by tracking their food. Since he’d had some initial success with Weight Watchers in the past, he was familiar with food tracking and thought he’d give it another try, especially since some Reddit posters had also been more than 600 pounds.
“It was very helpful to hear that people were losing weight just by tracking calories without going to a gym,” he says. “I figured I could give that a try.”
In addition to being diligent about inputting his daily food, he started watching videos on meal prepping and dug out his old Fitbit to increase his daily step count. Although he was pleased with finally taking a new, healthy track, he admits it wasn’t always easy.
“After a month, I would have murdered someone for a Big Mac,” he says. “There were days I broke down and cried because I couldn’t eat fast food. I didn’t realize how much food had taken over my life.”
But, as he introduced healthier, lower calorie foods into his meals, the weight-loss journey began to get easier, especially when he started to see major results. After five months, he’d lost 100 pounds and bought a weight set for strength training.
His activity levels increased as well, with more of the weight gone. He was able to go golfing again, bought a bicycle — which he hadn’t been on since age 14 — and signed up for an obstacle course race, confident he’d be ready when it’s scheduled in 2019.
As the weight kept dropping, Treglia also went to New Orleans on a vacation with his wife, a trip that included plantation tours he would never been able to do at his highest weight. “We could do all the touristy things, and that felt great,” he says. “As soon as we got back, we booked a trip for Orlando as a reward to myself for hitting 300 pounds.”
He wasn’t the only one seeing big changes — his wife said it felt like she married a new person. And his doctor didn’t recognize him at a recent checkup, thinking she’d grabbed the wrong patient chart.
As of late September, Treglia had lost 317 pounds and feels like he’s not done yet — he wants to get down to 250 pounds by early December as a Christmas gift to himself. The daily pain he once endured has lifted — his physical issues are gone, his marriage is stronger than ever and he now feels a sense of joy and optimism every day.
He still tracks his food on MyFitnessPal as a way to stay accountable and finds support on the MFP message boards, where he’s picked up tips on nutrition and exercise and also connected with a community that cheers him on.
“Connecting with people about their struggles and successes has helped me make it through my journey,” he says. “I realize I have a lot more to lose, but I already feel like a new person.”