Man loses 420 pounds and inspires others
El Dorado, Ill.- Justin Wiseman, 29, said he was the face of childhood obesity before it was an epidemic. He weighed 100 pounds at the age of 5. By the time he was in high school he was up to 310 and when he took his senior trip he was 443 pounds.
He said his mind at the time didn’t realize his body was so big so he tried to carry on like an ordinary teen. One of his worst memories comes from his senior trip to an amusement park.
"I waited in line for and hour to get in a ride," he remembered. "Then I had to be escorted off, in front if everybody, because I couldn't fit."
Even though now he admits it should have been a wake-up call, he said the horrifying event actually shut him down into a deep depression. He used food to comfort himself.
"It's like a drug. It is a drug." And it was killing him. At the age of 26 Wiseman was basically home bound. He was a Type 2 diabetic, suffered from high blood pressure, sleep apnea, neuropathy, cirrhosis of the liver, and had sores on his feet.
In July of 2011, he was watching a television show about a woman who weighed more than 700 pounds. She died during the show, but it was what she left behind for her family that shook Wiseman awake for the first time in his life.
"They had to use a crane to come and move her body because no one could lift her," he said. "And I went 'wow'. And that light bulb just went off in my head," he said. "I was so embarrassed."
His first call was to the New Life Weight Loss Center in Herrin, Illinois. He joined a support group and met the medical professionals and people who would see him through his journey. But it wasn't easy from the start.
Wiseman learned the weight loss surgery he thought would help get him on the right path was out of reach. He was too big and would have to lose 130 pounds on his own first. He left the meeting in tears, but his mom wouldn't let him quit before he started.
"She looked me right in the eye and she said, 'Justin they didn't say no, they just said not now'."
Wiseman was put on a liquid protein diet at first, to treat his over sized liver, but he said it was brutal.
“I felt like I was on fire,” he said. “I literally felt like I was on fire. My mind was in fire; my body was on fire because I was so hungry! You know people say one day at a time? I didn't have one day at a time. I had one craving at a time.”
Over the next 6 months the cravings got weaker and Wiseman got stronger. He was ready for the next step, which for him was gastric sleeve surgery.
“You don't have I have it, but it was a tool I needed because I'm an addict,” he said.
After the surgery in January of 2012, the Wiseman kept working and the weight kept coming off. Within a year, he had lost more than 300 pounds and hit his goal of weighing 200 pounds and fit into a size 36 pants. But he wasn’t finished yet.
During Wiseman’s darkest days he started writing down other things he wanted to accomplish: tie his shoes, cross his legs, go to the movies. At first he thought of it as a “bucket list” of sorts, but realized that wasn’t right.
“No, that's something you want to do before you die. I couldn't do it even if I tried,” he said. “So, this is what I want to live for so I made it my Live It List.”
There was a time when Wiseman didn’t think he would ever cross anything off his list, but now he’s focused on finishing them all.
“That's one if my biggest dreams now I want to be a dad,” he said. “I want to fall in love and get married.”
In the meantime, Wiseman qualified for a skin removal surgery which he underwent in August. Doctors removed 20 pounds of skin so at the age of 29 Wiseman now weighs 180 pounds and wears a size 32 pants.
He still focuses on his health, but has more time now to share with others, which is his new calling. He wants to motivate others and support then to do the same.
“You have I know you're worth it,” Wiseman said. “Even I you don't feel it, knowing in your mind that you're worth it. No matter what size you are, no matter if one foot is in the grave, until you're dead you still have a chance.”
Wiseman encourages you to follow him on Facebook or send him and e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.