Beau Griffin was overweight for as long as he can remember, but his physical and mental heaviness grew so out of control that he considered taking his life at one point.
He calls reaching and passing 700 pounds as his rock bottom.
Suicide “crossed my mind once or twice because I felt as though I was a burden to my family,” Griffin, 39, who lives in Las Vegas, tells TODAY.com.
“It was getting depressing. I did have some negative thoughts at that point. Luckily, it didn’t last too long. I was like, ‘That’s not the solution. I need to figure something else out.’”
Griffin has since lost 450 pounds, undergone skin removal surgery and says he feels “1,000% better.”
The transformation earned him first place in the 2023 “Submit Your Fit” contest for the most inspirational fitness journeys among members of EoS Fitness, a chain of gyms.
Griffin says his parents were overweight and didn’t know how to help him when he grew heavy as a child.
He remembers that his father “kind of encouraged gluttony — ‘You can eat all that? Way to go,’” Griffin recalls his dad saying. “So I was like, ‘If (eating) four chicken thighs impressed him, how about six?’”
Griffin also calls himself an emotional eater. Food was always his “go-to solution” whenever he was angry, upset, depressed or bored. Happy times also called for eating to celebrate. Sugary foods were a particular problem, with Griffin indulging in candy, cookies and ice cream cake.
He ate a lot of fast food, so lunch might have been a double cheeseburger, a chocolate shake and fries. Sometimes, he’d add a second burger to that order. Then there was the sugary soda. If Griffin would go out to eat, he could easily have six to eight refills.
As his weight continued to rise, Griffin bought a scale that could go up to 1,000 pounds. The maximum weight he recorded was 735 pounds in 2014. It affected his mobility and mental health.
“I got to the point where I would just be in the bed,” he recalls.
The turning point came when a friend Griffin looked up to told him he was being selfish by not trying to lose weight because his loved ones would suffer if he were to die early.
“You’ve got to turn this around because at your weight, you’re basically a ticking time bomb. It could be anytime and it’s over,” he recalls his friend saying.
Griffin says he considers his starting weight to be 720 pounds — the period when he began looking into bariatric surgery.
Doctors told him he had to lose weight on his own first to safely undergo the procedure. He started by cutting out all the sugary soda he was drinking, which helped him lose the first 100 pounds.
He underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2015, which reduced his stomach to the size of an egg to hold less food. The procedure has a big impact on decreasing hunger and increasing fullness, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
Griffin had to eat small meals frequently and prioritize protein. Eating too many carbs or too much sugar at once would make him feel sick and lead to a blood “sugar crash,” or post-bariatric hypoglycemia, which can be a complication of bariatric surgery.
He started a fitness routine by walking from one bench to the next in a nearby park. Eventually, Griffin began using the pool at his gym.
“I had bad joints from carrying all that weight around — my knees and ankles weren’t too good — so I’d be getting into the pool to exercise,” he says. “That allowed me to eventually transition to the bike in the gym, and then eventually the elliptical. I started to add in the weights after that.”
Griffin now works out four or five days a week, with sessions that include 45 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weights. He alternates muscle groups throughout the week.
He now weighs 270 pounds.
Setbacks and triumphs
In 2020, Griffin underwent two surgeries to remove excess skin from his upper and lower body, which improved his mobility.
But the entire journey wasn’t without complications, including developing a blood clot in the lung after the gastric bypass surgery and an infection in the leg after the skin surgery.
Still, Griffin says his transformation has been life-changing. He’s been able to travel to Hawaii and hike the Diamond Head trail. He’s skydived and parasailed in Mexico. He’s been in a relationship for three years.
“All those things wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t decide to make that change,” Griffin says.
His simple tips to others:
Griffin shares these principles he lives by:
Your health is your wealth: “You’ve got to take it seriously and do what you can to make it better.”
Never give up on yourself: “You might feel like you’re living in hell today, but you could make some different choices and you’d have a totally unrecognizable experience in your life just by making those small choices.”
Be consistent: “Just show up every day and by default, things will get better. And if you show up with intention, they’ll get even better, faster.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com