(NEW YORK) — By the time Jarvez Hall reached his 28th birthday this year, he was already dangerously obese. His weight gain had started years before, spurred by a passion for playing football and encouragement from others.
“Middle school is when I started getting big,” Hall of Portland, Ore., said. “People encouraged me to get big. ‘Oh, you’re big, that means you’re more manly. You’re big. You’re strong and tough.’”
“So I was actually excited,” he said. “I wanted to be big.”
Hall went on to play football at Oregon State University but eventually the weight piled on, reaching its peak as his beloved mother struggled with sickle-cell anemia.
“When my mom got sick, that is when my weight got worse,” he said.
Hall met the love of his life, Adriana, and asked for her hand in marriage. The day before they walked down the aisle together, however, he wrote a letter to Chris Powell, fitness expert and the trainer on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, asking for help.
When Powell arrived to help, Hall weighed 548 pounds at his first weigh-in.
“Wow, I look at this number and I’m motivated,” Hall said at the time. “My goal is to get into the “twos” and officially bring sexy back.”
In the next year, with Powell at his side, Hall pushed through the highs and lows of his weight-loss journey. After one year on Powell’s program, Hall weighed in at 267 pounds and had dropped from a size 70 waist to a size 38. His total weight loss came to more than 280 pounds.
“My world is so different now because I can appreciate the small things in life,” Hall said Monday on Good Morning America alongside Powell. “Just coming here, I got to fly on an airplane and sit in one seat and not have a seat-belt extender. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sit. I can sit in a movie theater.”
Powell says it was the same determination that helped Hall succeed as an athlete that pushed him in his weight-loss journey.
“He [Hall] is the epitome of perseverance and persistence,” Powell said. “He fell sometimes like we all do. We’re all human and it happens on the journey but every single time he did he got right back up. He attacked every single day like it was a brand-new day and he kept going and this is where it gets you.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jennifer Graham, Deseret News
Jacque Wilson, CNN