"Something just clicked that night."
A guy tries to transform himself to win the love of a woman. It's a timeless conceit of romance fiction, and kind of a tired cliche. Because nobody actually does that, right? Nobody says, "Until I met her, I was fine being a hot mess. But she's inspired me to make some big changes, so that maybe she'll realize I'm the one for her." That's just sentimental, unrealistic claptrap.
Unless, that is, you're Ahmed M., a 25-year-old cell phone salesman from Richmond, Virginia, who was morbidly obese for most of his life. Last December, Ahmed weighed 381 pounds, which even with his 6'4" frame was pretty big. But as the man who goes by the username "Fatty2g" described recently in a touching Reddit post, things changed for him late last year while playing World of Warcraft. He met a woman during the game, he writes, who "cared so much about me for no apparent reason other than the kindness of their heart. Something just clicked that night and it was the beginning of this journey."
On December 8th, 2016, he made a goal to lose 140 pounds by April, and then "meet the person who inspired me and changed my life." Did it work? We wanted to find out, so we gave Ahmed a call.
Let's talk about your nutritional intake before you went on a diet. How much were you actually putting down in a day?
It was pretty bad. In the morning, I'd eat eggs and cheese on a bagel with some buttered toast. Very starch-heavy food, always with juice on the side. For lunch, I'd drive down to McDonald's and get two or three double cheeseburgers, with a McChicken and a large fries on the side.
Wow. That's like 2,800 calories before noon.
It was horrible, man. And then I'd go to Chick-fil-A and get two Chick-fil-A sandwiches with fries and a soda.
You'd get a second lunch?
I would. Two lunches, no problem.
You were doing a Louis CK bang-bang.
Same thing. Two grossly calorific meals, back to back, one right after another.
[Laughs.] I didn't know that had a name.
How long had you been eating like that?
My whole life. If I was hungry, or bored—mostly bored—I would eat everything I could find. I never had a skinny day in my life. I'm still not skinny, but I'm getting closer.
If I read your Reddit post correctly, you decided to change the way you ate because of a woman?
Yeah. I know, it sounds weird. We were both playing World of Warcraft online, and I was, uh ... [Laughs] It's fucked up, the way I met her. I was talking shit.
Long story short, one of my friends was close to her and then they had problems, so I was talking shit because I was his buddy. I was defending him, you know? But jokingly. It was fucked up, that's all I can say. But she kept talking to me, even though I was being a dick, and it turns out she's one of the nicest fucking people in the world.
How did she encourage you to start losing weight?
My online alias for World of Warcraft is Fatty. So of course she asked, "Why'd you name yourself Fatty?" Literally all of my alter-egos online have been variations on Fatty. I've been fat all my life. It's my identity. So I just kind of embraced it. I was like, "I'm cool with the way I am." But it was just an excuse. I'd laugh at the fat jokes, and be like, "I'm alright." But I wasn't alright. I was... trapped in this body, basically.
Did she make you feel like you didn't have to be trapped?
She did! And not by saying that specifically. It was more like, "I really care about you. I wish you cared about yourself more." That really got to me. That anybody would care about me enough to say that. It just, it literally snapped something in my head. It turned a switch. The next day, I went cold turkey. I cut out all of the bread, all of the juices, all of the pastas, all of the oils and salt and sugar. I cut it down to around 700 calories a day.
Did you get help from a nutritionist?
I found a guy who helped me set up a nutritional plan. It was all about having smaller, healthier meals throughout the day. Lots of chicken and vegetables and plain yogurt. I plateaued when I hit 330 pounds, my weight was just fucking stuck. I talked to one of the personal trainers I'd been hanging out with, and he said, "Split your meal into six meals." That did the trick. I took one chicken breast and made three meals from it. That pumped my metabolism back up. It's just about figuring out your body chemistry.
Was it painful to go cold turkey on all the junk food and delicious grease? Your body must've gone into detox.
The first week, it was fucking hell. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't even lay back. I guess from all the extra acid and shit that was in my stomach. Every time I laid back, I could feel the acid going up my throat. So I had to sleep for the first eight days sitting up, with Tums sitting next to me. It was torture.
Did you ever think, "Fuck this healthy shit, I want some damn nuggets?"
I was tempted all the damn time. I'm not gonna lie to you, I'm still tempted every day. But then I get a picture of her in my head.
Your World of Warcraft friend?
Yeah. And man, she's a dime. You know what I mean?
Sure. She's good looking.
But it's like she's a dime, and she's incredibly kind, and she plays online games. What else could you possibly ask from a person? I was like, if I ever get to meet her, I want to look at least somewhat decent. So every time I came close to caving in, I just think of her. When she looks at me for the first time, I want it to be a smile. Not "Oh, it's you, Fatty. Of course it is."
How much weight have you lost so far?
I'm at 298 right now. When I went to the nutritionist, he said that if we're just talking about body fat, I lost a little more than 108 pounds. But I also gained a crazy amount of muscle.
108 pounds in four and a half months. Isn't that dangerous? You could develop gallstones.
That's what I'm worried about. But I haven't had any sort of pain. The only thing I ever get is a little sore from working out. But man, I feel so fucking good, it's not even funny. In my 26 years of living, I never thought my body would be able to move like this. I used to eat honey buns and cakes and donuts. I used to eat shit all day long, and I never wanted to work out. So I never thought this would happen for me. People are always like, "You should take it easy. Losing one pound a week is healthier." Maybe, but I don't give a fuck. I feel too good.
What's your goal weight?
With muscle, I think 250 is probably good. That's another 50 pounds from where I am now.
Is that when you shave the beard?
I don't know if I'll shave the beard. I said on Reddit I was gonna shave it, but I don't know. I trimmed it down, and I think it looks pretty good. I probably grew it at first for the wrong reasons.
To cover up your chubby cheeks?
Beards can be like a muumuu for your face.
They absolutely can. So I don't know, when I get an actual jawline, I might think about shaving it. But if she likes the beard, I'm probably gonna keep it. [Laughs.] Nah, I'm just playing.
Okay, let's cut to the chase. Has she seen the new you yet?
She's seen pictures. And she's been encouraging and all that.
But it hasn't sparked a romance?
Nothing yet. We'll see what happens.
And until then?
I was thinking that, after I hit my goal weight, I want to try and help other people. Not as a personal trainer—just somebody who helps motivate people to do the same thing.
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*This story has been amended to obscure the subject's last name.