Reshad Asgarali knows all too well what stress can do to your health. Although he was a relatively healthy kid, the moment he stepped into college—and away from two divorcing parents—all that changed. At 22, Asgarali found himself tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds. But thanks to a new routine, and a new squad to back up his goals, Asgarali has lost 105 pounds and counting.
“Being away from home and dealing with college was a huge transition. And it made a really big impact on me,” Asgarali told MensHealth.com. “It was also a time that I was coming out of the closet, and just a lot of stuff was happening. I think I just started eating to cope with all of that.”
Asgarali was so unhappy with his weight gain that he actively avoided looking in mirrors, working out in public, and even seeing doctors, because he’d “receive a lecture” every time he stepped on the scale. He tried to lose weight over and over again, but nothing stuck. Finally, when he returned to see his healthcare provider, he didn’t receive a lecture—he received a shock instead.
“I was kind of telling myself, ‘Oh I’m 270, I probably gained five pounds since the last time I saw the doctor,’” he said. “But he said I was nearing 300 pounds, which, in my head, was insane. Carrying this massive weight gain was so shocking to me.”
To be precise, Asgarali was 285 pounds. But that moment was the last time he’d see 285 pounds on the scale ever again.
At 23, Asgarali started changing his diet. He tossed out processed foods and exchanged them for healthier options. Because he was still too shy to hit a public gym, he opted for P90x, an in-home program that let him build up his confidence on his own terms.
“That was a big one for me. I didn’t even think I would be able to do it,” he said. “I always did it in the comfort of my room. I would wake up super early and just try to do it first thing in the morning so that I basically had no excuses, which was a major adjustment period for me, because I was never a morning person and here I was waking up at like 5, 6 a.m.”
Within a year of using P90x, cutting out alcohol, and watching what he ate, Asgarali dropped 105 pounds.
But he wasn’t done yet. “It was tough for me, because … I was doing so much cardio and cutting out so many carbs that essentially, I lost all my muscle mass,” he said. The next logical step was bulking up—and this time, he wouldn’t be doing it on his own.
He’d be doing it with his new CrossFit crew.
“I had always been super interested in CrossFit, but I was also terrified of it because of the stereotypes surrounding it,” he said. (He was doubly scared when he went in on his first day and saw a few members carrying in their own barbells.)
But all CrossFit jokes aside, he said it’s been the “most life-changing fitness change I’ve made.”
“I’ve made some of my closest friends from CrossFit. It’s such an open, inviting community,” he said. “It gives you the accountability of seeing these people every morning at 6 a.m., and then becoming your wolf pack. We push each other, but at the same time, we’re super supportive and it’s never in a negative way.”
At 28, Asgarali can proudly say he’s kept off those 105 pounds for more than six years. And he has no plans to slow down.
As for what advice he’d give to other guys looking to lose weight?
“Everyone’s different—there’s no set workout that’s going to be your saving grace,” he said. “Just find something that you really enjoy doing and stick with it. Find a supportive community, whatever that looks like. Or, if you prefer to work out on your own, do it in the comfort of your room.”
Perhaps most importantly, Asgarali stressed that you should give yourself time. “Have patience. You’re going to fall down and you’re gonna make mistakes. It’s not going to happen overnight. Just be as nice as you can be to yourself.”