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Some of the best stories can be found in the crowd at Wodapalooza. Like John Glaude, better known to many as @obese_to_beast. John is a source of inspiration for hundreds of thousands looking to improve their own health. John shed 180 lbs through a mixture of diet, exercise and hard work.

We asked him what that point was in his life when he was like, this is the day when he knew he was going to make a change. “For me it was actually more fear of … It sounds morbid, but it’s just the truth, it was fear of dying. I started losing weight when I was 20 years old. I’m 27 now. 27, geez. I’m getting up there. At 20 years old though, I remember literally being afraid to be home alone, because I was like, if I have a heart attack, no one will be here. At 20 years old. That’s not a normal thing for a 20-year-old to be worried about, but I was very worried about it. I don’t know what it was, but I had literally gotten to a point where I was okay with dying because of my size. It was just kind of, it’s going to happen, it’s more when than if.”

Asked whether his weight gain was hereditary, John reflects, “I gained it as I was growing up. I thought that gaining weight is hereditary, and I think that’s the wrong way to look at it, because it’s the victim mindset, of you feel like you can’t do anything about it. I think there are definitely factors that go into it. Because I grew up very very poor, and so that was a big factor. I didn’t have much money. There was a lot of trauma growing up, I was taken away from my mom when I was really young, but I was put back with her.

“I was actually talking to a friend about this, they’re like, ‘What do you think it was growing up?’ It was because my mom couldn’t provide much. But food was something she could provide. So she didn’t like to say no to me. It was something she could do that would make me happy. Because she couldn’t get presents for Christmas, she couldn’t do other things she wanted to do for me. So if she could get me food, fine, that’s the one thing that she could say yes to.”

So when did John decide enough was enough? “At 20 years old, I remember I was invited to a wedding and I had to find clothes. That was horrible. I wore a size five XL shirt and had a 56-inch waist. So finding clothes when you’re that big is really rough, but I ended up finding stuff, and I remember I was actually really happy with the clothes that I got. I was like, ‘These are sweet, I love this.’ I was really happy, I thought it looked really good. We go to the wedding. We drove there, it was a 13-hour drive. And as we got there I went to step out of the car, and I almost fell back into the car. And like I said, I had that fear of dying. I was terrified, I was like, there’s definitely something going on here. And I was really really scared the whole time I was there. Luckily it wasn’t anything serious, but it freaked me out. We got home, and I saw the photos of the wedding, and I was like, ’Oh my …’ I thought I looked great; I was wrong. And it’s crazy, because I was wearing a five XL shirt, and this shirt, when I’d sit down, the buttons would unbutton. It was pretty tight.

“So that all happened, but that wasn’t my click moment. It was actually a couple weeks later, I was watching Miami Ink, which is a show about tattoos, and there were people getting all these really cool tattoos everywhere, and I had two on my forearms when I was heavier. I wanted more, but I was like “I’m not going to get any more,” cuz I feel like I’m never going to show them off. But then a guy came on the show, I don’t even remember exactly what he said, but basically in my head I finally realized, this is my fault. These are my choices, I can’t blame anyone else for the size I am now. I’m 20 years old, no one is making me eat anything I don’t want to eat. So I finally realized, I’m making choices that are bringing me to this point, I just need to make different choices. That was the starting point.”

Now that John has shed the weight, we wanted to know how he feels about that shift in identity. From the guy losing the weight to a success story. And more importantly, how he deals with knowing when enough is enough in terms of weight loss.

“When losing weight, for a lot of people, their goal is to lose as much weight as possible. And I always say, your goal should be to be healthy. For a lot of people, that will mean you lose a lot of weight if you’re very overweight, of course. But if your goal is, “I want to be as skinny as possible,’ it’s dangerous. Because eventually, like I said, you’re going to get to a point where you’re done losing weight. Because you can’t lose weight forever, you’ll die. So a lot of people, when they get to that point, they don’t know what to do. They get freaked out, they get scared. So for me, the lowest weight that I hit was 180 pounds, down from 360. That’s when I did a men’s physique show. So I dieted down for a men’s physique show.

“When I did that show, I got really really lean, but it was too lean. I lost too much weight. It wasn’t healthy what I had to do to get that thin. What really helped actually was finding CrossFit. Because I was doing bodybuilding stuff before that, cardio, but I never felt like I was athletic. Because in bodybuilding, the only thing that matters is how you look, that’s all. And I just stopped caring, really. So with CrossFit, I got into it and I was like, ‘How can I jump on this box?’ Or, ‘Can I walk on my hands?’ Obviously, walking on my hands came a lot later. But I remember my first box jump, I was terrified. Because I’d never been athletic my whole life. So finding something that made me focus on not just how I look, but how I performed, it made it so much easier to be able to gain a little bit of weight and not freak out.”

John dedicates his platform to advocating for healthier living. We wondered if he feels a responsibility of sorts to help others reach the other end of their fitness journey, as he’s done.

“I think that for me, losing the weight and then seeing the followers I’ve gained, it’s made me feel like yeah, you have a responsibility to help people. I think losing the weight was a big thing for me that I had to do, but now, seeing that people are inspired by that makes me want to help people as much as I can.

“Almost everyone who comes up to me has some sort of weight loss story that they tell me about. But one really cool story is about this guy I met who actually comes to my gym now. I met this guy at a different gym, he would do powerlifting stuff. He would always do squatting and stuff. He had a lot of weight to lose, and he ended up coming up to me one day and he was like, ‘Hey man, I actually watch your videos and I just wanted to say hi.’ I was like, ‘Oh cool man, it’s good to meet you.’ Then at that point, I had been doing CrossFit for a little bit, so I was like, ‘You should check out CrossFit, if you ever want to try it out.’ So since coming to my gym, my CrossFit gym, he’s lost an extra 100 pounds, and he’s really really doing well.

“That’s just one story out of literally thousands. It’s crazy because I always say I’m not special, there’s nothing special about me as far as losing the weight. What I did, literally anybody can do. That’s my mission that I’m trying to get out there. People see I have a lot of followers and they think, ‘He must be special.’ But it’s like, I’m literally not special. And I think that’s why people follow, is because they realize, ‘He’s just a normal dude.’