Jonathan McHenry married his high school sweetheart. They had two sons. The only thing that stood between McHenry and a perfect life was his weight.
McHenry, who stands 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighed 543 pounds.
“I don’t sleep in the bed with my wife because I just physically can’t sleep in the bed,” the Port Orchard, Wash., man said.
His wife, Lisa, voiced her own worries for him.
“I have that fear that he wouldn’t wake up one morning,” she said.
McHenry needed to lose weight. For him, it would mean not just happiness, but possibly the difference between life and death.
“I don’t want my kids to one day say, ‘Why did Dad die so early? Because he liked to eat,’” he added.
McHenry had all but given up — and was reportedly just weeks away from having gastric bypass surgery – when he was approached by Chris Powell, the fitness expert and weight loss trainer of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.”
A few hours after that meeting, McHenry was off to fitness boot camp. Then Powell moved in with McHenry, and the grueling workout sessions started.
Powell motivated McHenry through the tough routines, urging him to “do it for your boys!”
During his training, McHenry pulled a two-ton airplane for one mile.
“I’m becoming a superhero to them,” he said of his sons, “because now they have something cool that they can say about their dad.”
McHenry started losing weight quickly, but it wasn’t always easy. He devoted so much time to his training that he wasn’t able to spend a lot of time with his children, but he was continually motivated by his progress.
“When you start and say 250 pounds it just seems like a crazy amount of weight. But when you say, ‘I just want to eat healthy three days this week,’ and you do that and you start building momentum and you start feeling good about yourself, the sky is the limit,” McHenry said today on “Good Morning America.”
Today, McHenry has maintained his 250 pound weight loss and, in what he calls a pay-it-forward moment, became a certified fitness instructor who runs his own boot camp classes back home in Washington.
“Before I was just somebody who made money for the family in order to survive and now I’m able to play with my kids, still go to work, come home and have the energy to do what they need to have as a father at night and that’s the most rewarding thing of this whole process,” McHenry said. “And I get to be a good husband.”
Powell said McHenry was able to change his life in such a big way by focusing on small goals, a life skill that applies to everyone looking to make changes in their lives.
“Make that one small promise to yourself, whether it’s removing the soda from lunch or maybe it’s just eating breakfast, just something so tiny that you know you can attain every single day,” he said. “Every journey truly begins with a single step.”
For McHenry, the first step was a wake-up call from Powell that how he was eating was destroying his life.
“He’s come to terms with the fact that food is his thing. He’s a compulsive overeater. No matter what, he’ll always have that but he’s learned how to control it,” Powell said. “He’s a promise-keeper and he’s always honored his word to himself and that’s how you do something extraordinary.”
McHenry said he is not done taking his own small steps on his weight loss journey. He has kept the one pair of pants he wore to work every day as a reminder of his old life and has committed himself to maintaining his new, healthy lifestyle for the same reason that he first met with Powell–for his family.
“Even if it’s not weight, maybe building muscle, it’s always going to be in my mind, taking care of my body,” he said. “Making it better so I can see my grandkids and maybe my grandkids’ grandkids.”