Gary Hall struggled with his weight his entire life, but when he couldn’t get his dream job because of it, he decided to finally take charge of his health, once and for all.
Hall was bullied as a child for being overweight. It made him so angry that he began picking on others until he caught the attention of a high school football coach. He encouraged Hall to become a linebacker.
“I liked the attention because it was a lot better than being picked on,” he told TODAY. “I thought, ‘It is OK being this big. People like me now.’”
Hall could deal with his anger on the field, he made new friends, and didn’t have to monitor his poor eating habits. It was a win-win situation and kept him in his comfort zone.
Staying active helped him maintain his weight but as soon as he graduated high school, his weight skyrocketed when he stopped playing football.
“Eating fast food is just as addictive as any drug. We find comfort in it. It is very easy to overindulge,” said the 38-year-old from Columbia Heights, Minnesota. “I just didn’t have motivation.”
At his heaviest, Hall weighed 523 pounds.
The right motivation
He had a heart attack in his mid-20s, but it wasn’t enough to convince him to change.
It was only until he reunited with an old flame a year later that he discovered what would truly inspire his transformation.
After she encouraged him to go after his dream job in retail loss prevention, he went for a meeting and overheard one of the interviewers say he was too unhealthy for the job.
“Just hearing that kind of crushed me. That was one of my dream jobs,” Hall said.
It was all he needed to hear. Not only was his weight compromising his health, but it was standing in the way of his career opportunities.
With the right motivation, he was finally ready to transform his habits and his life.
Hall joined his local gym and began working out every day, focusing mostly on his cardio at first and traded out junk food for vegetables, fruit and lean proteins.
His consistency paid off. He gradually started losing weight and also noticed a change in his mood.
A whole new outlook
“When I was heavy and battling obesity you feel like you can’t do anything. You feel worthless,” said Hall. “My outlook on life is so different now.”
Since 2015, he’s lost 300 pounds and continues to practice his healthy habits.
“I am proud of how far I came,” he said.
He’s incorporated weight lifting into his exercise routine and keeps setting new, small goals for himself all the time.
“I feel like I’ve got so much more to do,” said Hall. “Always having a goal is important to maintain.”
This most important lesson he’s learned is to stay persistent regardless of setbacks.
“The biggest thing is to not give up. You are going to fail,” he said. “I fail all the time. You need to dust yourself off.”