HomeRunning, Sweat EquityMan Loses 400lbs, Re-Gains 250lbs, Prepares To Lose Again

Tyesha left this story on the BGG2WL FB Page… and I’m crushed. Absolutely… completely… crushed:

In 2009, David Smith sat down with Matt Lauer on “Today” and revealed a dramatic 400-pound weight loss.

But over the past three years, Smith has regained over 300 of those pounds. In an exclusive interview with “Today” in the video above, he opens up about his weight loss — and the tumultuous time he’s had since.

“All my life I was this monster in my head and all of a sudden to be this good looking guy, it blew my mind away, I didn’t know how to deal with it,” he says in the video above.

Previously featured on a TLC documentary called “650-Pound Virgin”, Smith, of Phoenix, initially worked with trainer Chris Powell to drop over 400 pounds over 26 months without surgery.

Despite forging a close personal friendship with Powell, becoming a personal trainer, finding a new girlfriend and living in his new body, Smith felt like “a terrible mess” on the inside, and eventually turned to alcohol and drugs to cope, “Today” reports.

When those outlets didn’t help, he turned once again to food. “A lot of people were counting on me to be inspiring, and I didn’t want to let anybody down. But I just felt so bad, I didn’t know how to cope,” he says.

Smith began overeating after being sexually molested as a child, the Daily News reported, and struggled even more after the death of his mother when he was just 17.

But now, something has changed. Fearful that his time is running out, Smith says he is determined to lose the weight once and for all. He’s back in the gym, thanks to unconditional support from his girlfriend. “If your foundation isn’t built up, you’re just going to crumble down,” he says. “Unfortunately, I fell down, but I know I can climb back up.”

The video of his segment is heartbreaking. It speaks, a lot, to the issues I’ve battled as a means of achieving what I’ve achieved, which was why it was so important to nip the little stuff that I’ve been battling in the bud immediately. When you’ve lived with emotional eating as a habit, and you’re faced with a new “kind” of problem, it can be soooooo easy to try to slip back into that. Those old habits die hard, and if you get to a point where you’re 650lbs, 330lbs, wherever you are… you can rest assured that you will be fighting an uphill battle trying to make sure you don’t backslide.

But every battle is winnable. Every single onewith the right support, and sometimes, that support system should include a therapist.

He says a lot that resonated with me… even to the point where I teared up listening to him talk about how he couldn’t cope. So many people mocked my choice to become celibate while I lost the bulk of my weight, but truthfully, I gave up alcohol, smoking, emotional eating and sex all at the same time. I left myself with, literally, me and my emotions. If you are overweight because you cope through food, then chances are high that you’ll swap out one unhealthy coping mechanism for another. I had to face my demons, otherwise I question whether I’d be alive today.

…and that’s a really sobering thought.

Successful weight loss is this culmination of things – yes, it’s environment, money, access and education, but it is also so very much emotional, habitual and so very personal. My ability to know how to save money buying healthy food is very much as important as my ability to remember that I do not, under any circumstances, cope through food. A thousand ways to de-stress and relieve anxiety, and none of them better involve food.

I just, I don’t know… I think I need to come back to this one. What do you think?

By | 2017-06-10T11:23:28+00:00 August 8th, 2014|Running, Sweat Equity|18 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and crtified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because lol why not.

18 Comments

  1. Nika June 11, 2012 at 11:19 AM - Reply

    I applaud him for coming forward to speak on the issues that led him to regain. So many times people will just quit and accept the weight loss. I hope he has a great support system and I hope he gets those inner demons in check. Most of all I hope he can do what’s best for him emotionally so he can get to where he wants to be phyiscally.

  2. Curlsz June 11, 2012 at 11:28 AM - Reply

    I can’t imagine doing all this on tv, life is hard enough and then you add this unrealistic element to the mix, you become weight loss porn for millions of people…sadly this doesn’t surprise me but it is so sad, I hope he gets the help he needs to be the person he wants to be

    • Andrea Rose January 10, 2013 at 1:25 AM - Reply

      “Weight loss porn”…WOW. That is prolific, and so true.

  3. Pam June 11, 2012 at 12:10 PM - Reply

    Your insight and ability to reveal yourself are profound. Chocolate has been my crutch of choice for years, and after a recent bout with hives (anxiety, but exacerbated by chocolate) I’m scared to touch it. I’ve been thinking about baking a pound cake, making pancakes, trying to find something sweet. I have had a couple of cones of sorbet from whole foods over the past couple of weeks, but its not chocolate. I’m seriously thinking of meditating again. A much better choice than chocolate.

  4. Donda June 11, 2012 at 1:22 PM - Reply

    Addiction shifting is sooooo real. When I began to exercise control over my eating, I began to shop more. At first I thought it was me just “rewarding” myself for my efforts and success, but then I realized that instead of coping with food and zoning out, I would go to the mall and zone out. It’s gotten better but I’m still working on it.

  5. Jai June 11, 2012 at 3:16 PM - Reply

    As someone who has regained some weight after losing a substaincial amount, I totally understand. When I was talking to a counselor on a regular basis, it was easier (not easy) to keep the emotional eating at bay because I was in a better place emotionally. Now… I’m at a super stressful job w crappy health insurance and can’t afford to seek the professional help I need. I run, do yoga, lift weights, but I’ve still found myself emotionally eating again. I’ve gained back 10 lbs of a 40 lb lose, and I’m really devastated about it.

  6. Spiderlgs June 11, 2012 at 3:18 PM - Reply

    I think this is the real deal when it comes to life. Admitting that we have to learn how to cope differently and then doing the hard work to do it. Facing depression and anxiety, i find myself fighting the urge to eat a box of cookies, or have a few drinks, or anything else that can ease me. And now I’ve made the commitment to be courageous enough to face the hard part..and when I need to cope, I run… when I need to cope, i breathe.. call a friend.. I have a box full of healthy ways to destress that I choose from.. so I don’t choose anything unhealthy.. But that’s on a good day…

  7. Helen June 11, 2012 at 5:51 PM - Reply

    This was devastating.When he first started talking I already felt so bad for him. By the time he started crying I wanted to climb through the screen and hug him. Where was his support system after the trainer left? Was it just his girlfriend? She can’t be everything, no matter how much she cares. Particularly not with his history. Where were the people who should’ve looked out for him when he was a child? Why am I so mad right now?!

    On another note, I’ve been enjoying your blog and I’ve never commented before but I want to thank you for everything you write. I can’t even tell you how much it helps me every day.

  8. Kel Green June 11, 2012 at 10:02 PM - Reply

    Having done the same thing in my own life, I recognize that its so much about the mental psyche more than anything else. Sure, you can exercise & eat the right things but if you don’t get your face right, you’ll easy re-gain what you’ve lost. Its also difficult to deal with the comments that people make about your weight loss. It never ceases to amaze me how many “part time” doctors there are that know exactly how much I should weigh or how much I should lose. . anyway. . I hope he keeps it up and gets some psychological help first.

  9. LBrooke June 12, 2012 at 5:41 AM - Reply

    Heart breaking… I could really feel his pain while he was crying about the scare of losing his girlfriend. I guess from being ostracized so much, once he found someone who loved him, and his whole new image, it just completely scared him and he didn’t know what to do with himself. I was happy to hear his girlfriend sound so positive, and say that it was for his health rather then looking good. He can do it!

  10. AshleyJ June 12, 2012 at 10:47 AM - Reply

    I heart goes out to him…I see alot of myself in him 🙁

  11. Keyea June 12, 2012 at 1:09 PM - Reply

    I watched this story last week and felt horrible for him but I must admit prior to me feeling bad I was very judgemental, thinking “how could you do that to yourself?” I know the real truth is I took his story personal. I lost 80lbs before meeting my husband (who I am now separated from) and I gained it all back during my stressful marriage. I know the negativity I initially felt towards David is really the negativity I still feel towards myself for gaining it all back and putting up with my husband’s nonsense and it all boils down to me never feeling worthy, constantly feeling like I don’t deserve better, regardless of what the preacher preaches. David’s story reminds me that it’s not just physical work that goes into losing weight b/c that’s the outside I have some mental/emotional weight I need to get rid of as well. I pray he like I lose the weight AGAIN and learn from past mistakes while strengthening our inner self and learning to trust the lord when he says he made us in his likeness (no mistakes)!

  12. Annette June 13, 2012 at 10:37 PM - Reply

    Yeah it’s great to count the calories and do the work, but what about the emotional work that most of us me included don’t want to do. I gotta deal with it cause I get so caught up in eating right and my progress in weight loss. Yet I need to take the time to really look at myself get use to the new me. Learn to accept the me that I have been hiding and protecting from others. It’s almost like I was naked and invisible then all of a sudden I was reveal left naked for everyone to see. Without any protect or skills on how to deal with that. During all of that time I was protected by the weight, I didn’t need to learn the skill. I hope he is trying to seek out help. I constantly watch myself when I feel anxious in certain situations of stress.

    Yet maybe he needs to go back to clear the issues of the abuse and his mothers passing. Then find ways to deal with stress or emotional upsets in a very real way. Seeing someone to develop coping skills and then seeing that person again for a refresher if it gets to much handle. I am taking my time going through the mind field. Someone suggested to make a tape of affirmations to combat the worry and negativity in my head. Record the words of support you want others to tell you in my own voice and sleep with it.

  13. CafePhin June 14, 2012 at 5:05 AM - Reply

    Wow, this is one of your most powerful posts. I can’t begin to fathom how much pressure he felt to be a “role model” for other people. Just being in the public eye, period.

  14. Loulou June 14, 2012 at 10:19 AM - Reply

    This was a powerful post. I feel so bad for him. Why is it that when someone loses a lot of weight everyone feels like the battle has finally ended? Then they get angry and disapointed when or if the person gains weight again? It’s a lot of pressure to live under. This poor guy… It was pressure that caused him to gain the weight then he is under pressure to be a hero by keeping it off and being perfect. It’s so unfair. This is hitting me hard. I need counseling because I am taking it so personally. My prayers are with him and anyone who feels the weight of the world on their shoulders and can’t handle it…

  15. ILoveChicago June 14, 2012 at 10:43 AM - Reply

    “So many people mocked my choice to become celibate while I lost the bulk of my weight, but truthfully, I gave up alcohol, smoking, emotional eating and sex all at the same time. I left myself with, literally, me and my emotions. If you are overweight because you cope through food, then chances are high that you’ll swap out one unhealthy coping mechanism for another. I had to face my demons, otherwise I question whether I’d be alive today.

    …and that’s a really sobering thought.

    Successful weight loss is this culmination of things – yes, it’s environment, money, access and education, but it is also so very much emotional, habitual and so very personal. My ability to know how to save money buying healthy food is very much as important as my ability to remember that I do not, under any circumstances, cope through food.”

    Whew…where do I start!!?! I think you’re on to something here. Although I wasn’t (and still not) an emotional eater, this resonates with me…the whole giving up EVERYTHING to concentrate on me and my emotions…I had Gastric Bypass Surgery in January 2006. I lived alone in a city where I had relocated, dumbed my two-timing boyfriend, and stepped out on faith. I lost the weight, gained a bit of self-esteem, adjusted my attitude, and started life over. I’ve had to deal with lonlieness, fears, truths, etc. It wasn’t easy but I did it. And although it’s been almost 7 years, its still a struggle. I’m still far from perfect but I sleep at night and can live with myself. My friends thought I was CRAZY for giving up eveything (condo, relocation, new job, etc)…but I’m a better person for it.

    THANKS for sharing…you really hit it on the nail with this one.

  16. itcanbeifuwillit June 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM - Reply

    hope he is not also addicted to the attention he got from loosing the weight, and from gaining it back

Leave A Comment