Skip to main content

He lost 200 pounds in 9 months: 'I quit quitting'

By Henry Hanks, CNN
updated 7:32 AM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014
Despite a lifetime of being what he calls a quitter, Jonathon Walters stuck with a healthier lifestyle to lose 200 pounds in nine months. Read below for more of his story. Despite a lifetime of being what he calls a quitter, Jonathon Walters stuck with a healthier lifestyle to lose 200 pounds in nine months. Read below for more of his story.
HIDE CAPTION
Father's death motivates weight loss
Father's death motivates weight loss
Father's death motivates weight loss
Father's death motivates weight loss
Father's death motivates weight loss
Father's death motivates weight loss
Father's death motivates weight loss
Father's death motivates weight loss
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jonathon Walters went from 477 pounds to 270 pounds
  • His father's unexpected death motivated Walters to make healthier choices
  • Walters is determined not to quit for his family's sake

Editor's note: Do you have a weight-loss success story to share? Tell us how you did it and you could be featured in our weekly weight-loss story on CNN.com.

(CNN) -- Jonathon Walters didn't know where to begin. He just knew he had to start somewhere, or he wouldn't be alive for much longer.

His weight had caused him problems for years. In high school, he was wearing size 50 pants. As a junior, sick of the bullies and comments from teachers, Walters went to his father and told him he was dropping out of school.

He recalls his dad saying, "John, quitting is unlike anything else in life. It is only hard the first time you do it. After that it is habit and almost impossible to break."

His dad was right. Walters received his high school diploma through home schooling in 2006. But in the years that followed, he quit college and multiple jobs.

Now, though, the comic book colorist from Benton, Illinois, is finally sticking with something. His father's death motivated him to lose 200 pounds in the last nine months, and he says he isn't looking back.

'My world had collapsed'

On May 6, 2013, Walters received devastating news: His father had died from a heart attack. He was 53.

Wife loses 100 lbs., stuns Army hubby
Did 'Biggest Loser' lose too much?
See man after 700-lb. weight loss

According to Walters, his father wasn't overweight or really out of shape, so his death was unexpected.

"My world had collapsed," Walters said.

Walters was despondent. He left his job as a telecommunications sales rep and didn't speak to practically anyone besides his wife and three young boys.

Already heavy, Walters began packing on more weight in the weeks after his father died. He ate to numb the pain he felt, every night feeling the crushing weight laying heavy on his chest.

"At first I played the role of the victim and slowly let my obsession with food consume me," he said. But then he had a realization about his father's death.

It hit him that he too would "eventually run out of tomorrows." On July 18, he woke up and decided he had had enough. He was done.

"I was done being a burden to my family. I was done feeling pain every second of every day. I was done being stared at in grocery stores. I was done being the regular customer at fast food restaurants. I was done being the unhealthy version of me.

"I was done quitting everything I started. I was going to not only lose the weight, I was going to obliterate it. I was going to stop giving up. I quit quitting."

Facing reality

Walters made a doctor's appointment for the next day. He had no idea how he would do it, but he was determined to lose weight without surgery and knew he needed help. At the doctor's office, he had to sit in the bench-style chairs because he was too large to fit in the regular seats.

Facing reality was hard. He weighed 477 pounds, had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as a severe fatty liver.

He left the doctor's office and started exercising the next day.

"I could barely walk without getting winded. After every time I went walking, I could feel pain in my legs and feet. It hurt so bad to keep going, but I knew it was temporary and giving up was permanent."

Walters would walk a quarter mile, then rest for 5 minutes. Slowly, he worked himself up to greater distances. Soon, he was up to 3 miles a day and was down 50 pounds.

A few months later, he started running. Walters now runs 10 miles a day, lifts weights and works out on machines at the gym. He has completely changed his diet, lowering his carbohydrate intake, eating more vegetables and fruits, and increasing his protein consumption. He also cut out fried foods and soda.

The 6'3" man currently weighs 270 pounds. He still wants to lose an additional 30 to 40 pounds, but at a much slower pace through weightlifting. He started a Facebook page to hold himself accountable and is inspired by all the messages he gets each day.

Terri Hartman, a nurse practitioner who worked with Walters early on in his diet, said she's thrilled with his progress. Besides changing his own life, she's seen his lifestyle changes inspire others, including his two sisters, to become healthy. Walters has found new strength and willpower, Hartman says -- something that will aid him the rest of his life.

This time, Walters is determined not to quit.

"It isn't about me anymore. My mission is to bring motivation to the masses and show them it doesn't take any surgeries, pills or other products," Walters said. "I have three boys and a wife that count on me daily. ... Imagining my sons and wife without me, makes every ounce of effort I put in worth it."

He lost 125 pounds, but still felt fat

Random online match helps man lose nearly 400 pounds

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
My weight loss success
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
Robert and Jessica Foster lost a total of 280 pounds after an emotional conversation. See their amazing transformation and how they got healthy.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Sarah Evans was miserable on her 30th birthday. She went on to lose 120 pounds.
updated 1:07 PM EDT, Mon April 28, 2014
Inspiration can come from unlikely places. Brian Flemming found the will to change his life in a drawing game.
updated 7:18 AM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
Nina Osegueda was 19 and around 180 pounds when she remembers her boyfriend saying the thing no boyfriend is supposed to say.
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
Edgar Hernandez didn't expect to learn that he was pre-diabetic at age 16.
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
At 235 pounds, Roni Tarver had never had the body she wanted. Then she signed up for her first Zumba class.
updated 12:57 PM EST, Mon February 3, 2014
In the end, a coupon changed Torrie Creamer's life, helping her drop 145 pounds through grueling workouts.
updated 7:04 AM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
Gabi Rose wore maternity clothes for more than 12 years. Now she's a size 2. And her family has slimmed down too.
updated 1:04 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
Kerry Hoffman was a fit football player until he lost his father to liver disease.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
Misty Shaffer lost 100 pounds to shock her husband when he returned from an overseas deployment.
updated 7:29 AM EDT, Mon March 10, 2014
Alanna Gerwitz-Stern hadn't worked out a day in her life. But after having her first son, Jacob, she couldn't seem to get her body back.
updated 8:22 AM EST, Mon March 3, 2014
Rose Anne Schulman dropped eight dress sizes by making small, simple changes to her diet.
updated 7:26 AM EST, Mon February 24, 2014
Fried chicken. Mashed potatoes. Collard greens. These were the foods Chris Ross grew up on in rural Kentucky.
updated 9:26 PM EST, Mon February 10, 2014
Mario Colao lost 200 pounds after a heart attack scare left him fearing for his life.
updated 7:17 AM EST, Mon January 20, 2014
Heather Kern was afraid to walk to the end of the block. But that only inspired her to lose 125 pounds.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT