Jeff Kendall battled depression and struggled with his weight for as long as he could remember.

I’d spend most nights awake in bed wondering if I could ever lose the weight I wanted or be the person I wanted,” said the 26-year-old, of Torrington, Connecticut.

After his mother suffered a life-changing health crisis, he saw it as an opportunity to take charge of his own well-being.

“My mother suffered a brain aneurysm on July 4, 2015,” he said. “She spent months in rehabilitation centers and was deemed to have plateaued.”

When his mom was finally on her way home but needed 24/7 care, Kendall found himself overwhelmed with emotions. Weighing 250 pounds, he knew that if he didn’t take care of his own health, he wouldn’t be able to adequately look after her.

Around the same time, a friend of his was going through a breakup. Together they set out to get in shape. Soon enough, this buddy system strategy paid off: Kendall began to look forward to working out, not only to lose weight, but also to relieve stress.

Learning to love himself

“My mother’s health put my problems in perspective, small pains became not so bad and with practice comes habit,” said Kendall.

“Now, I just try to act in a manner of the person who I want to be,” he continued. “I try to be mindful and honest with myself.”

His weight loss journey taught him to love himself. Slowly but surely, he learned that although making changes to your daily routine can change your outward appearance, it doesn’t automatically change your sense of self-worth. But by simply deciding to make healthier choices, he was already halfway there.

How weight loss helped him develop a positive outlook

Today, he’s lost more than 70 pounds and feels more confident than ever. “My outlook on life has broadened, to say the least,” Kendall said. “I see new possibility and feel a new sense of accomplishment.”

His advice for people wanting to lose weight and build confidence? Be true to yourself and try your best. “Start slowly and build habits, don’t burn yourself out.”