Making a dramatic lifestyle change is never easy. Whether it’s vowing to stop smoking or deciding to eat healthier, we all know how difficult it is to muster the motivation to make a change. However, sometimes people can be pushed into taking action when their health is at risk.
That was the case for 42-year-old Stanley Hollar who was told in 2015 that if he didn’t lose weight, he would die. Ever since the mid-twentieth century, it has become easier and easier for people to indulge in unhealthy food. The rise of restaurant chains like McDonald’s has created a culture where cheap, tasty, and seemingly satisfying food is available in mere minutes. In fact, the size of the average restaurant meal in the US has increased four times since the 1950s. Many people who struggle to maintain a healthy weight begin their battles as children. Stanley was no exception, and, because of his weight, he had to have one of his legs amputated in 1996 at the age of 20, but unfortunately, this still wasn’t enough motivation for him to change.
“Weight has always been an issue,” Stanley said in an interview with the Daily Mail. “I was large even as a young child, weighing nearly 100lbs when I was a five-year-old in kindergarten.” “It’s something I’ve lived with my whole life, but it was normal to me and not something I even really struggled with. My family tried to say something several times, but it was a lot of words and not a lot of actions.” Stanley has now opened up about how his weight affected his life and led to him becoming an amputee when he was still in college – something which should serve as a stark warning to others in a similar situation. “I was playing as a goalie, albeit not very well, in an indoor soccer game on campus. The fact I was around 450lbs at the time made it hard to move so I thought being in goal was a good idea as it meant I got a little exercise,” he said.
“However, I went to stop a ball and was trying to stop myself but only my leg stopped, the rest of my body did not. I was in agony and if you were to ask how painful it was on a scale of one to ten, I’d have said about 50.”
“I went for x-rays at the local hospital who thought I had sprained my knee. The doctor had a cast brace made for me and wrapped my leg in bandages to immobilize it, but recommended I saw an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible.”
“The following day, it was arranged for my parents to pick me up and drive me home. When they arrived we had to get me from my room to their van using office chairs, which it took four guys to help lift me into.”
“Once we got back home, it was the same process, however, I couldn’t even fit through our front door sat in the office chair, so I had to be taken through the porch.” Even though Stanley was rendered almost disabled by his weight, it still didn’t concern him enough to change – and that was before he lost his leg.
“Just to get me to [the] hospital early the next week my mom had to rent a heavy-duty wheelchair and my dad then had to take the seats out the back of his van and back it right up to the porch so I could get in. He then had to round up a lift team to get me out again,” he continued.
However, things soon took a dramatic turn for the worst when Stanley returned to the hospital.
“When the doctors removed my cast, my leg was completely purple from the knee down,” the 42-year-old revealed. “At the time, [they] thought it was just an ACL injury and ordered physical therapy to try and recover mobility.”
“Jump to Sunday night, my leg had started throbbing and was extremely painful, so I told my mom she needed to take me to the emergency room. Once there, they checked both my legs with a stethoscope, they could hear a strong pulse on my left but on the right, silence.”
“At that point, we knew something was seriously wrong. I was rushed to surgery where they found the mess that was once my knee, I had shred all the ligaments and torn an artery.”
“They tried to repair it, but the extent of the damage was so great that they were left with little option but to amputate.”
Given that Stanley’s mobility was already affected by his weight, his chances of losing it were cut shorter by the loss of his leg. But even then, he made no attempt to lose weight. He simply finished college and began to work as a teaching assistant after obtaining his degree. However, everything changed for him at a doctor’s appointment in February 2015 when he weighed a colossal 678lbs. On reflection, Stanley said that he was in denial about the effects that his weight was having on his life until this point. He was told by a doctor that if he didn’t lose weight, the then 39-year-old would not live to see his 40th birthday – which was just three months away. “That did it. In the first year, I shed 250lbs, half of which was through heavy diuretics where the doctors drained excess fluid and water and the other half was through regular light exercise,” Stanley said.
“I then had bariatric surgery which started another rapid weight loss, and through that and starting to go to the gym, I lost the rest of the weight to get to my current size.”
To date, Stanley has now lost a staggering 500lbs.
“I now work out five days a week and try and go on walks at the weekend. Even when it’s cold, I improvise by doing laps around the table or through the house.”
“My diet is also so much better. Whereas before I had the usual junk, takeaways, sugary snacks and drinks, I now have simple meals with some kind of protein with plenty of fruit and veg throughout the day.”
A lifetime of indulgence has now left Stanley with debilitating amounts of excess skin that are preventing him from living a normal life. His insurance company won’t cover the cost of the removal because they class it as a cosmetic procedure.
“I feel so much better about my body now, but it is still in a state of change. I’ve come a long way in a short period of time but unfortunately now have excess skin everywhere.”
“To be able to walk again I need to get the skin [on] my thigh area removed. And for my new leg to fit properly, it needs to be skin tight, which is just not possible at the moment.”
“God willing, I still have a very long life ahead of me.”
In sharing his story, Stanley hopes to raise the money he needs to have his excess skin removed through a YouCaring page at www.HelpStanleyWalk.com. We wish Stanley all the best in his continued fitness journey and hope that he raises enough money to have his excess skin removed.