At 348 pounds, Fitzroy Powell, Jr. nixed the drive-through—and got his life back. By learning to cook, he lost over 130 pounds. This is his story, as told to Maria Masters.
I’ve always been heavy, but my weight didn’t always bother me. In high school, I played defensive tackle, and my 5’10, 315-pound frame was actually an advantage on the field. Sure, I had some fat on me, but I was strong and active. That all changed in 2014, once I started college. Not only did I stop playing sports, but I also started to question why I was going to school at all. I felt directionless, so I sought comfort at the dining hall, where I ate everything on the menu: pizza, chicken, burgers, cakes. In the next two years, I put on another 30 pounds.
Things came to a breaking point in the spring of 2017. I was halfway through college, and working at a local movie theater, where I grazed on leftover popcorn and snacks after closing up. One night, instead of going straight home, I made a stop at Taco Bell and ordered almost everything on the menu. I ate most of the food on the ride home, and polished off the leftovers later that night. Then, a few hours later, I ate again. That night, I felt sick to my stomach. I remember thinking, Why am I doing this to myself? Finally, I thought, enough was enough. I knew I had to make a change. At that point, I was 348 pounds.
The very first thing I did was cut out soda and other sugary drinks and replace them with water. It seemed like the easiest change to make, and I needed to save my calories for food. I stayed away from the drive-thru, too, and started cooking all my own meals. The weight started to melt off. I’m now 23, and have lost 133 pounds. Cooking is a lot simpler than people who don’t cook make it out to be, because there are no rules! You’re making food for yourself, and as long as you don’t burn the house down, you’re free to have it taste how you like.
I usually take a day to meal-prep for the week, and it saves me money and time. I now find joy in cooking, because I know it’s helping me in my journey. There are so many quick and easy recipes out there that make cooking simpler. My current go-to: ground turkey-stuffed peppers with a little bit of cheese on top. Healthy, easy, filling!