The Spontaneous Decision That Started This Man’s Weight Loss Journey


From the time Dustin A. started kindergarten, he had always been the heavier kid in the classroom. “By the time I hit 8th grade, I weighed 340 pounds—and I stayed that weight throughout high school,” says the 35-year-old nonprofit development manager who lives just north of San Francisco. “I was active—I played tennis and did the shot put and discus for track and field—but I also ate a lot of food.”

After graduation, Dustin put on more and more weight, ultimately hitting 495 pounds. “When you grow up as the fat kid and people make fun of you, you learn to roll with the punches and cover up your emotions,” he says. “I became a very emotional eater and chose to make bad emotions go away with food.”

Then, around eight years ago, things started to change for Dustin. “I got a job at the humane society, and for the first time ever, I was working a job I really loved,” he says. “I started to feel passionate about something, which really woke me up. The job gave me something to live for beyond myself.”

While Dustin had more to be excited about, he still couldn’t budge the scale. It wasn’t until he went out to buy a new car three years ago that things really started shifting. “I went in to buy a sedan, but a little convertible caught my eye. It just looked so fun! I sat in it and I felt cool for the first time ever,” he says. “I bought the convertible and, it sounds silly to say, but it gave me such a morale boost.” Instead of binge watching TV all weekend, Dustin started going on drives to the coast and being a lot more active. “I wasn’t even trying, but because I was moving so much more, I lost 35 pounds,” he says.

Feeling good, he decided to start tracking his diet. “I realized that I was easily consuming a whole day’s worth of calories in one trip to a fast food restaurant—and then I’d eat an entire pizza that night for dinner,” he says. Dustin came up with a goal: to try to stick to 2,600 calories a day. “I realized there were a lot of foods I can live without,” he says. “Like if I wanted pizza, I didn’t really miss the cheese or the meat toppings.”

With those changes, the weight kept coming off. “My first goal was to get under 400 pounds,” he says. “When I got to 395, I was so excited because I could buy a scale for my home. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the fact that I could step on a scale and it would show a number was huge for me.”

Ready to keep on measuring his success, he bought himself a Fitbit Charge HR. “I was only walking about 5,000 or 6,000 steps a day, which wasn’t enough,” he says. “I upped it to 10,000 steps, then 13,000, then 15,000, and now it’s 20,000 steps a day.”

Over eight months, Dustin ultimately got down to 325 pounds—a weight loss of 170 pounds. “One of the biggest things to me was that I can now travel and only buy one airplane ticket, whereas before I would have needed to buy two because I was so large,” he says. “My girlfriend and I went to Italy for two weeks this January and it was great. I even logged 25,000 steps in one day!” Even better than seeing Italy was hearing from his doctor that his diabetes and high blood pressure levels were improving. “My doctor was completely blown away the last time I went in,” he says. “If I can get to 300 pounds my doctor will reevaluate my medicines and see what we can take away—it’s something I can’t wait for.”

Dustin’s Advice for Others:

Notice every win. “As I gained weight, I barely paid attention all the things I was giving up, like being able to fit in a movie seat,” he says. “But when I started losing weight and I got to go to movies again, I really celebrated it.”

Don’t be afraid to eat. “If I get hungry, I eat,” he says. “I learned the hard way that if I let myself get to the point of being ravenous, I’ll end up bingeing and eat tons of calories without realizing it. Now I don’t let myself get to that point.”

Work extra steps into your routine. “Instead of parking in the garage at work, I moved my car to the residential area nearby the office,” he says. “Going from the car to the office is 1,600 steps each way, plus it saves me money because I’m not using the parking structure anymore!”

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