By Liana Jacob


THE DEATHS of both his mother and father led this “shut in” to consume 3,500 calories per day to reach a peak of thirty-three stone before he started a new life in a different part of the country and lost half his bodyweight in just two years.


Operational technology assistant, Joel Reed (22), originally from Texas, now living in North Carolina, USA, has always been overweight growing up, but his weight vastly increased after his father died of a stroke when he was just ten years old.

Joel Reed /


Just before he died, unbeknownst to Joel, his mother was diagnosed with cancer that gradually spread all over her body, making it difficult to function normally. They both became ‘shut-ins’, recluse in their house, which led him to indulge in takeaways and delivery food. When his mother also tragically died when Joel was 15 years-old, the heartbroken teenager’s weight ballooned to a whopping 33st 5Ibs, and he was consuming around 3,500 calories a day.


When he moved to a new house after being raised by family friends, he decided ‘enough is enough’ and made a commitment to re-invent himself. With a new exercise routine, a food logging regime, and healthy diet, his weight shrunk to a muscular 16st 8Ibs and he reduced his calorie intake to 2,200-2,800 a day.

Joel Reed /


“My parents passed away when I was young, so I currently live with my aunt and uncle while I am in college,” Joel said.


“Ever since I can remember, I have always been overweight. I was never really raised with healthy food until I was much older.

Joel Reed /


“I believe that this laid the foundation for some of the bad habits that I had before I lost the weight. My weight really started to go up after the death of my parents.


“My dad died when I was ten years old and this lead me to turn to food for comfort. My mom was diagnosed with cancer slightly before his death.

Joel Reed /


“She wanted to be strong for me during this time, so she had hidden this from me. Eventually, the cancer had started to spread to her spine and she was not able to function normally.


“This lead to us basically being shut ins and not being able to leave the house. This also caused us to eat almost nothing but take-out and delivery food, which caused my weight to balloon.

Joel Reed /


“My mom passed away when I was fifteen years old, and I was taken in by some family friends after her death. They tried to get me on track with my health, and I even saw some success for a while. However, it didn’t last.


“Around my junior year of high school, I slipped into a depression and started turning to food for comfort once again.

Joel Reed /


“During my depression, I became extremely lazy and really didn’t care about anything. I believe that a combination of finding comfort in food and laziness lead to my previous weight.


“Before I lost weight, I tried to put up a front that I was happy, but I really was not. I didn’t care about myself, how I looked, or even my health.


“I was extremely depressed, but too proud to seek help about it. I remember when I moved to North Carolina, I saw it as a fresh start for me.

Joel Reed /


“It was almost a way to re-invent myself. At this point, I decided enough was enough and I didn’t want to be obese anymore.


“I feel amazing. For the first time in my life, I am truly proud of myself. I look better, I feel better, and most importantly I am a lot healthier.


“Before losing the weight I was just simply coasting through life with no direction, and losing weight has given me a purpose.”

Joel Reed /


Joel now lifts weights for one to two hours, five to seven days a week and tries to implement 20 to 30 minutes of cardio in his routine.


“At the beginning, it was almost one-hundred percent diet. Basically, if you eat less food than your body needs, you will lose weight,” she said.


“I started logging everything I ate in to a food journal app, and this helped me stay on track for my calorie goal for the day. I also started drinking a lot more water.

Joel Reed /


“Staying hydrated is a major key to losing weight and keeping it off. I also cut out all caloric beverages such as sweet tea and soda.


“The biggest thing however, was that I started eating at home more and stopped eating out as much. I started out with light exercise and then worked my way up.


“I am much more confident than I was back then. I used to walk into a room and feel like everyone was staring at me and judging me, now I don’t.

Joel Reed /

“I don’t have to worry if a store is going to have my shirt size or not. I don’t have to worry if I’m going to fit in a certain car or not anymore.


“Most importantly, I don’t have to worry if I am going to break a piece of furniture when I sit on it. This was a horrible reality for me when I was close to five-hundred pounds.”


He goes on to say that the hardest part of the process was actually starting to make that change and to break old habits.

Joel Reed /

“The hardest thing about losing weight was getting started and staying consistent. Trying to break old habits and form new ones was tough, but once I got the routine down I was able to keep it up easily,” he said.


“Most people are shocked. Most people say congratulations. One guy even told me he thought it was photo shopped.


“Some people say that I look like a completely new person. The best thing that people say is that is motivates and inspires them to lose weight themselves.

Joel Reed /


“My advice would be to start logging your food. There are a lot of food journal apps that can help you. Once you log your food, you might recognize that you are eating way too much and need to cut back.”


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