After seeking counselling to treat depression and address unresolved issues from his childhood, Donnie Clinton realized it was time to start prioritizing his physical health, too.

Clinton was always an emotional eater. He turned to food to cope when his parents divorced, after his grandparents died and as he went through tough times in college.

His unhealthy relationship was nothing new. Growing up in a trailer park, the Ohio-native didn’t have access to healthy, affordable foods.

“I grew up extremely poor,” he told “And being poor perpetuates poor health. I learned some very unhealthy habits very early on.”

His parents left him to fend for himself, which for Clinton, meant a lot of binge-eating.

“I can’t recall a time in my life where I was ever pleased with how I looked,” he said. “And because I hated the way I looked, I turned to humor. Any time I could be the Jonah Hill of the group, I would.”

For years, Clinton preferred making people laugh instead of getting to the root of his problems. At his heaviest, Clinton weighed 390 pounds.

A man of faith, he felt that God loved him no matter how much he weighed even if didn’t fully accept it.

“I just had this idea that God only wanted to redeem my heart and my mind, and not my body,” Clinton said.

Unlearning Bad Habits

After he started attending regular counseling sessions to help him work through his depression and as he became more self-aware, he realized he had to make some major lifestyle changes.

“I went through a tremendous amount of counseling, I reached out to people around me who made me a better person. But the one thing I wasn’t working on the whole time was my weight,” he explained.

Clinton spent a lot of time reflecting on life and thinking about the future. He wanted to be a good, healthy husband and a strong male role model for his children. Most of all he wanted to be able to provide for his family what he missed out on.

Ready to take charge of his physical health once and for all, he began going to the gym with his friend, Holly, several days a week. He also started tracking and calculating his daily calorie intake, and always made sure to burn more calories than he consumed.

In the span of eight months, Clinton’s been able to lose 160 pounds.

Emotional and Physical Health Go Hand in Hand

“A lot of my eating was connected to my rampant emotional issues that I had never come to realize,” he said. “Health is holistic, and my whole body mattered.”

Losing weight and seeking out help for his mental health has brought him close to his faith and in a better place to “maintain something good.”

Equipped with a new mindset, Clinton is now working towards completing his master’s degree, and looking for work as a youth pastor. His next goal is to incorporate a weight routine into his workouts.

“I use to think losing weight would solve all my problems. Then I lost 160 pounds and found out I still have a lot to work on,” Clinton said.

His transformation journey made him realize he can do anything he puts his mind to.

“I have the force of will,” he said. “I now know I can change things really effectively, and I’m willing to put in the hard work to get there.”