Local Man Loses More than 500 pounds.
Bradford’s “Biggest Loser” is 22 year old Justin Willoughby, who has reached an enormous milestone in his weight loss this week. Willoughby has lost 550 pounds.
Forty-five of those pounds have been shed in the past year. “I made a resolution on January 1st to start a journey to lose 100 pounds by the end of the year, which will take me down to my goal,” said Willoughby, who tipped the scale six years ago at 799 pounds.
Within the first two years, Justin lost more than 200 pounds. “I have been working very hard, but to lose that initial amount of weight that I lost was only a miracle. You can’t lose that kind of weight without some kind of hope and strength,” Willoughby credits that source of hope to his faith, “I made a commitment to follow Jesus, and to trust Him to help me through this journey. Since that day, I’ve had a hope and a source of strength, and comfort, to get me through the times I want to indulge and over-eat, and to make it through a hard workout session. I would keep repeating the scripture verse, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'”
The catalyst for Willoughby’s most recent weight loss was the Mission Meltdown Program at the Bradford YMCA. “The YMCA has been a huge help for me throughout this whole process. I have dropped a lot of pounds on that floor,” says Willoughby.
WIlloughby won this year’s Mission Meltdown, and is continuing to shed pounds, burning 2000 calories in about one and a half hours of cardio a day, either by walking the Crook Farm Trail, through town, or on the workout equipment at the YMCA. “I use the elliptical, the arc-trainer, the stair-climber, really anything that brings your heart rate up is good for burning calories.” Willoughby then moves on to some light strength training, to finish up his work out.
“The key to losing weight is to burn more calories than you take in. I try to stick to a calorie restricted diet of about 1500 calories a day,” said Willoughby.
“Anyone can lose weight if they really try. A lot of people try to take the easy way out, and they depend on surgeries, or weight loss drugs to be their only source for losing weight,” said Willoughby, “but what they need is a healthy diet and to get active. Even just a little bit can start them on the road to a healthy life.”
Willoughby said he has recieved a lot of flack from critics online who comment on Youtube videos about his weight loss. “A lot of people blame my parents for my rapid weight gain. Honestly, I gained so much weight so fast, because of severe anxiety attacks that made me feel paralyzed anytime I would start to get active, and my own stubbornness.” Willoughby said he turned to food to comfort him. “My parents did everything they could to encourage me to get me active and to get me to stop eating,” said Willioughby, but he said he rebelled against their pleas for him to change.
A lot of people blame my parents for letting their teenager get so fat..
it was my anxiety attacks and stubborn-ness that caused me to get that way. They did everything they could to try to motivate me. But I would rebel against them and tell them to quit judging me. It felt like they were condemning me too, but they were really just trying to help.
Willoughby said that other hurtful comments have been made on the internet as well, “They say– Get Fat. Lose Weight. Become Famous– or call me a “Fat Pig” or say that I still look fat,” said Willoughby, who refuses to let the critics get him down, “Really I forgive them for saying those things, but they are ignorant and clueless about my situation. I’d love to sit down and talk with them in person, and see if they still would make those comments after they got to know me.”
Willoughby feels his weight loss is a gift that he’s been given, with a responsibility to share it with others. “If you are overweight, and you need to lose that weight, there is hope for you. Don’t give up. If I can lose 550 pound, then you can lose the weight too. Conitnue traveling down the path toward becoming the best version of you that you can be.”
Willoughby has launched a website to help offer practical exercise and diet tips, and to offer people encouragement in their weight loss journey. More information can be found at www.justinwilloughby.com