At Diets In Review we meet some truly inspirational people, Alan Ali is one of them. His brave admission about his struggle with binge eating, and his encouraging attitude make him one of our favorites. We even named him best “selfie of the year.” Though he’s already lost an astonishing 140 pounds, he’s determined to lose more. Along the way, he’s also learning that his weight doesn’t define him, or his abilities.
At 480 pounds, Alan was miserable. In 2009, he knew he’d hit rock bottom. “I found myself recently laid off from a job that I loved, I had just been diagnosed with sleep apnea, I was borderline diabetic, and my feet and legs always felt numb,” he said.
“I hated my life and I decided I wanted better for myself, I deserved better.” Overweight most of his life, Alan knew he needed to get help, not only with losing weight, but also fighting the demon that would be his biggest challenge, binge eating.
Food was my solution to all my problems and stressors in life.
Alan knew he needed a guide so he met with a registered dietitian. “I was lucky to find one that I really connected with,” he explained. “I ended up working with her for about a year. She taught me a lot about food and how to eat with balance in my life.”
When Alan admitted to himself that he suffered from a binge eating disorder, it was time to admit it to someone else. “I remember the first time I told my Mama about my binge eating, it was one of the best things I ever did,” Alan admitted. “It felt great to just get it off my chest and tell someone. I just needed to say it out loud; I needed to hear myself say it.”
I have fat but I am not fat.
Alan says his biggest “ah-ha” moment came when he realized that self-acceptance was a gift he could give himself every single day. “Early on in my journey I convinced myself that I needed to make myself miserable for a couple of years and focus on losing the weight as quick as possible, that when I reached some magical number on the scale I would start being happy and doing the things I always wanted to do,” he said.
“I learned along the way that things didn’t have to be like that. I learned to find happiness where I was no matter how much I weighed. I learned that I could still set and accomplish athletic goals. I learned that my weight did not define me.”
One Tough Mudder
Today, Alan works with an online fitness coach who helps motivate and set fitness goals. Alan is adamant about not letting his weight define his abilities. In addition to cardio, weight lifting and Zumba, he loves to try any new form of exercise, AND he’s challenging himself with a few competitions too. He recently tackled the Tough Mudder (a race involving obstacles, water and plenty of mud) as well as running a Half Marathon.
Most days are good, some are bad, but I live to fight another day.
Alan said his weight loss goal is to be in the 200 range. He knows it won’t be easy, but making smaller goals along the way will help keep his mind occupied. He said he’s fallen in love with the sport of triathlons, and the community surrounding it. He already has one race under his belt and has at least three more planned this year.
Alan is a source of inspiration for so many people, and he’s very active with his online community. If you’d like to follow his journey on social media. You can find him on Twitter at, @sweating_it_off and on Facebook at, Sweating Until Happy.