• After his weight climbed to nearly 380 pounds, Levi Combs committed to the CICO diet and worked on addressing his low self-esteem.
• Combining the diet with regular exercise, such as walking and going to the office gym helped him lose weight consistently.
• Since starting on the plan, he’s lost more than 165 pounds and says he’s “never felt better.”
Levi Combs knows all too well that you can be your own worst enemy. By his mid-20s, Combs had allowed himself to self-sabotage his way to obesity, putting 380 pounds on his six-foot frame. Bu he also knows you can change all that by learning a few important lessons about self-worth. Need proof? How about this: Combs has since dropped 165 pounds and counting just by realizing he needed to put himself first.
“I had no motivation whatsoever,” Combs, a 27-year-old from Ohio, told us about his life before his transformation. Prior to making changes, Combs would come home from work and eat one of two meals: 12 tacos with a big bag of Doritos on the side or two frozen pizzas with Ruffles.
“Of course, I wouldn’t do anything except eat and lay in bed watching Netflix or playing video games,” he shared. “I had friends, but I’d only see them once or twice a week, mostly because I just didn’t feel like doing anything.” Though Combs said he’d exercise by playing disc golf a few days a week he’d always undo all of that work by scarfing down McDonald’s right after.
But that wasn’t his biggest problem. According to Combs, his biggest hurdle was never, ever feeling full. “I wouldn’t necessarily be hungry, but I wouldn’t be full and I’d just keep eating because I was bored,” he says. By the time he hit his mid-20s, Combs had reached his heaviest weight. Around the same time, a tough breakup sent him spiraling even further into self-hatred.
“I remember constantly looking at myself in the mirror and tearing myself down with pretty awful things; I’d tell myself that I’m fat and will never find love again or that I’ll be fat and ugly for the rest of my life,” he shared. “I believe the reason I said all of these things was because hearing myself say it made it easier to accept defeat and it would give me an excuse to not change.”
Though he had tried to lose the weight before nothing seemed to stick. Until one day he noticed his 4XL clothes starting to fit a little snug. He then went and looked in the mirror one more time and had an epiphany. “I realized that no one will love me until I love myself,” Combs says. “I knew I had to change who I was to accept myself before anyone else could.”
To kick off his lifestyle change, Combs kept things simple. He started by just walking laps around his building and drastically cut his calories for a calories in, calories out diet. During his work breaks he’d also visit his office gym for short bursts of cardio, or he’d take a few walks with friends on his lunch break.
Though he found success, he still had to fight his biggest battle—cravings. “I constantly wanted pizza, tacos, and cheeseburgers. It was really hard to not give in and even three years later, I still struggle with cravings,” Combs explains. “It’s something I’ve been able to manage, thanks in large part to cheat days I have once a week.”
Almost immediately after he started becoming a bit more active and paying attention to his calorie count Combs began to see results, even if they were slow and steady.
“Stepping on the scale to see I’d lost another one to two pounds was the biggest high and that made it easy to keep going. Sometimes it feels like my body doesn’t have enough dopamine to keep up with how incredible it feels,” Combs said.
Of course, Combs is also well-versed in both the plateau and the holiday downfall that comes with attempting to regain your health. This year, Combs said, he gained back about 30 pounds during the Christmas season. But, even that setback isn’t stopping him as he got right back on the horse in the new year to work it all off and then some. In fact, he’s already down to 215 pounds, marking a 165-pound weight loss transformation.
“The moment I went back to work, I immediately jumped back on my diet and started running again. The only thing you can do in any situation like that is to move past it and get back to what you know works,” Combs says. Though he feels great about where he’s at now in terms of his weight and his health Combs is on a mission to just keep going both mentally and physically.
“There are so many changes that have come along with weight loss,” he says. “Physically, I’ve never felt better. Unfortunately, I have pain in my knees and back from carrying 350-plus pounds for so long, but it’s nothing like it used to be. I now run 5k’s (and a quarter marathon), which is something I never envisioned for myself, and I can now go out and enjoy going places with friends without getting winded after five minutes.”
Mentally, Combs says it’s been a “total 180.” After feeling so unhappy for so long he’s now able to look in the mirror and see a man who’s been able to come so far and make changes he didn’t even know was possible before.
“I feel a great sense of pride. I’m 100 times happier than I’ve ever been and that’s always one of the first things people mention when they see my before and after pictures,” Combs says. “I no longer insult myself; instead, I encourage and motivate myself, even on my bad days. Weight loss is as much mental as it is physical.”
Combs believes it’s key for anyone attempting to lose weight to not let it overwhelm them from the start. And he’s a firm believer in counting your calories too, which is especially easy with apps like MyFitnessPal and others now on the market.
“People always think the only way they’ll lose weight is if they get a gym membership and spend all their free time there,” Combs said, wisely adding, “weight loss is 90 percent diet, 10 percent exercise. Cut your calories to make sure you’re at a healthy deficit and do exercise that you’re comfortable with. Once you start to feel good, change it up a little and just keep going from there. Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time.”