Real life weight loss: I was "Mister Fast Food" before losing 300lbs

DJ Varela drank and lived on fast food as a club promoter, weighing 500lbs. He's now 300lbs down and an aspiring MMA fighter

Real life weight loss
(Image credit: Future)

At his heaviest, DJ Varela weighed over 500lbs. The 29-year-old, from Phoenix Arizona lived a fast lifestyle as a club promoter and ate nothing but fast food. 

After stepping on the scale and maxing it out at over 440lbs (he was actually over 500lbs) DJ began to make a change. He first started his journey with some basic strength training techniques, using barbells, calisthenics and the best adjustable dumbbells. However, he's now working on cardio and technique, having lost over 300lbs, and is training as an MMA fighter.

Speaking to our sibling YouTube channel Truly (opens in new tab), DJ said: “Before you know it, I woke up one day and I was over 500lbs. I knew I had to make a change and I made a plan to start seeing the person I wanted to be.” 

DJ began his weight loss journey in October 2018 first by ditching the fast food and then started working out and following meal plans with the help of his friend and trainer - Bo. 

Watch DJ's radical transformation here:

In just 18 months DJ reached his goal weight. He said: “I didn’t let excuses get in my way and I lost 300lbs.” Having lost an incredible amount of weight, DJ now wants to help others lose weight and has set up his own company Functional Fit’Nesse. As well as maintaining his weight loss, DJ has set himself another goal of competing as an MMA athlete. DJ said: “When I look in the mirror now, I see the person that I always envisioned.”

When people think of weight loss exercise, most people think of exercise bikes, treadmills, and more of the best exercise machines to lose weight. Free weights can be a great option, but they're often overlooked on account of their main function being about building muscle. 

However, using weights – even light ones to make simple movements more difficult – create a metabolic response to get you sweaty, burning fat without necessarily causing your joints as much stress as they might be under doing HIIT exercises or going for your first run in months. In most weight training situations, your feet are planted firmly on the ground, and there they stay.

However, weight training can alter your "body composition", the ratio of fat-to-muscle-to-bone that indicates general health. If you're burning fat and adding muscle, you might not be losing weight as efficiently, but you're guaranteed to lose fat, which is the important bit.

Of course, it's also very much about diet, and if you're lifting weights, you want a high protein intake without adding too many processed foods and more refined carbohydrates than necessary. Our best protein powder for weight loss is a good place to start, but you should also try swapping processed and pre-packaged meals for lean meats, healthy veggies and whole grains.

Matt Evans
News Editor

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.