Alan Christiansen’s food addiction was taking on toll on his physical and mental health, but it wasn’t until he realized his weight was affecting his family life that he decided to take charge.
Christiansen’s unhealthy relationship with food began innocently, when he was just a kid.
“I would accomplish something and want a special treat in return,” Christiansen told PEOPLE.
To reward himself, he’d indulge in a snack, which for him, consisted of Burger King Whoppers and some Twix bars on the side. “Food made things better,” said the 33-year-old.
He was always a little bigger than other kids growing up, but by the time he graduated high school, he weighed over 300 pounds.
Christiansen, experimented with dieting in college, but nothing ever stuck and he only ended up gaining extra weight.
His food binge eating behavior only got worse and at 31, he was at the heaviest he’d ever been: 538 pounds.
Christiansen cravings were out of control and to satisfy one, he sometimes ate at three different fast food restaurants for just one lunch, consuming over 6,000 calories.
He began noticing his weight was really problematic when carrying out simple daily tasks started becoming increasingly difficult.
“I couldn’t stand up in a shower for ten minutes,” he said. “Even doing dishes and cooking required a chair.”
Two little motivating factors
But, it wasn’t until he realized how his weight was affecting his 3- and 5-year old daughters at the time that something finally clicked.
“I gave everything to my job,” said the maintenance supervisor. “[I was] coming home and having nothing left for my wife and kids, taking two-hour naps after work. My two little girls were watching themselves, they had no supervision. What a wake-up call.”
Christiansen said he was a ‘non-existent dad’ and a ‘lazy husband’ because of how his weight prevented him from doing just about any physical activity.
A promise to himself
In December 2016, he finally made a firm commitment to himself to lose weight. Christiansen started by making changes to his eating habits by trading junk food for healthy meals. In under month, he lost 20 pounds which only empowered him to keep going, so he signed up for a coach-based wellness program that offers workout and diet plans.
“At 500 lbs. I heavily relied on a golf cart to get things done on my 7-acre property at work,” he recalled. “I eliminated it and began walking everywhere. Walking is the key.”
He started small but never gave up. “I did one loop at a time, then it was two, then three loops, and eventually a 5-mile nightly neighborhood walk. I pushed through the pain sitting on curbs when I had to.”
All of his effort and hard work paid off very quickly; Christiansen lost 291 pounds in just one year. His weight loss success was so unusual, he was known as the ‘Incredible Shrinking Man’ on Facebook.
He lost a total of 317 pounds in 18 months and feels healthier than ever, but for Christiansen the best part of his transformation journey is being able to be present for his family.
“I’m a better man, spouse, dad, employee, son, brother and friend to everyone around me,” said Christiansen. “I truly feel free from my chains that bound me for so many years — free to live the best life and take advantage of what life has to offer.”
“My daughter saying ‘best dad ever,’ really hits my heart.”