How this amputee lost a shocking 488 pounds: ‘I am alive today to encourage others’

(Photo: Courtesy of Stanley Hollar)

Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Stanley Hollar is 42, 5’10,” weighs 190 pounds, and lives in Rushville, Ind. In 2015, after a doctor informed him  that his life was in imminent danger, he lost nearly 500 pounds. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.

The Turning Point

Weight has always been an issue, I was large even as a young child, weighing nearly 100 pounds in kindergarten. It was something I lived with my whole life. Most of my family members were large as well. Being overweight was normal and not something I even really struggled emotionally with. My family tried to say something several times about my weight but there were more words than actions, and I unfortunately just got used to the noise. Making things even more difficult, I had one leg amputated through the knee in 1996 after suffering a devastating injury.

The final turning point, which led me in the direction of weight loss, started in February 2015. I was at my heaviest and was developing major medical issues. The doctor said I needed to lose weight or I would be dead before my next birthday — I wasn’t even 40 years old yet. The fear of dying was the motivation I needed.

After a hospitalization, I lost the weight I needed to in order to be eligible to get bariatric surgery. I used a hand bike to exercise, which is basically all that my body would allow me to do. I would just turn on some country music and work my hand bike. Over that time in the hospital I lost 70 pounds, after which I underwent bariatric Roux-en-Y surgery.

After recovering from the surgery, I made another decision. I decided I needed to lose more weight. In order to do so I joined a gym, Anytime Fitness, and I got a trainer “DDoug” Sparks — yes, he signs his name with two Ds. DDoug gave me confidence and encouraged me. Over time, I kept shedding weight and I lost another 250 pounds, bringing my total weight loss to almost 500 pounds. I did and continue to do this with only one leg, hopping around the gym from station to station along with my wheelchair. Sometimes, even I have difficulty believing that this is the way things happened. I thank God for my doctors, nurses, Anytime Fitness, and my trainer. They all worked a miracle and I am alive today to encourage others, thanks to them.

The Changes

The weight loss I accomplished was in stages. My first steps were medical intervention. I was very sick. Just before my hospitalization, I fell and could not lift myself off the floor to save my life. For most of the first 50 days, I was flat on my back just trying to survive. I spent a total of 159 days between two hospitals and a long-term care facility before I could finally come home. As time went on, I slowly changed my diet, and I also did physical therapy. How did I tackle my weight loss in the early stages? The same way you eat an elephant — one bite at time. You start small and build. You go a little farther or you do a little more each day. Before long, you won‘t recognize the new you.

I used to wear 8XL pants (70 inch-plus waist) and 6XL shirts. I now can wear XL pants, some of which are loose on me. I now wear 38-inch waist jeans. Shirts I wear are regular men’s large. This past September, just two-and-a-half years later, I walked with my wheelchair as a scooter in a 5K. Start slow and tackle it one day, one step, one breath at a time. The key is to just start.

In the beginning, the feeling of exercise was totally foreign to me. I hated it. It was hard and difficult. It made me hurt and sore. At first, I lost the weight so that I would not die. Then I lost the weight to prepare for the bariatric surgery. After that, I lost the weight thanks to the encouragement my trainer gave me. It felt so amazing to watch the process. At some point, I realized there is a fit person inside of me, that person was just now coming to the surface. At this point, I do it because I want to do something I have never attempted: to be athletic, fit, and in wonderful physical shape.


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