Name: Nick Mastrella
Hometown: Rochester, NY
Weight Before: 245
Weight After: 185
Despite weighing in at 245 pounds, Nick Mastrella was not your typical fat teen. Instead, he felt size equaled success. "The bigger and heavier you are, the better your chances of doing well," he told himself. "Although I was overweight, I still thought I was active," he says.
Growing up in Rochester, N.Y., Mastrella fi t in through sports, succeeding in both football and power lifting. But with high school being, well, high school, life wasn't all fun. "There were always jokes going around," Mastrella recalls. He regularly turned to junk food for comfort, and predictably his physique worsened. "When I was playing football, my dad would make a couple of steaks for us to eat and a lot of white bread," he says. "We didn't really know too much about good nutrition."
Mastrella's plan to use his size to achieve success wasn't exactly working either. After high school, he became a carpet installer, and his weight-training days were soon a distant memory. He felt empty inside—as if he weren't reaching his full potential. Additionally, his father, Paul, began battling heart disease due to weight problems of his own. Mastrella finally saw the direction his life was heading, and he decided to put on the brakes. "This was my opportunity to not only help myself but help my father as well," he says.
Mastrella and his dad began working out together regularly, hitting the gym six days a week. They set small, achievable goals and used each other as motivation. "We started doing heavy weight and then mixing it in with low weight," he says. "And then we'd go to the football fi eld and strap a parachute around my waist and run 100-yard dashes."
In the kitchen, Mastrella also made some changes, trading steak, sugar, and snacks for grilled chicken, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. "I knew I had to completely change my lifestyle— my eating habits, my workout routine, everything—if I wanted to see dramatic results." Luckily, it wasn't long before the combination of regular exercise and healthier eating began paying off. "I watched my body morph from an overweight 245 pounds to an in-shape 185 pounds," he says. "It was amazing to see how I physically became someone else. I didn't recognize myself."
Today, at 26, Mastrella is the man he always hoped he'd become, and feels he's fi nally living up to his potential. He's moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he works as a certifi ed personal trainer. He uses his story to motivate others and is proud to have helped his father live a fi tter and healthier life as well. "I'm living proof that you can accomplish anything you want if you put your mind to it," he says. "The important things are to be positive, stay focused, feel good about yourself no matter what your weight is—and never, ever give up."
Nick's Key to Success:
"Try to work out with a partner who has similar goals. Your gym buddy will push you harder and provide the kind of motivation you need to get you what you want."