By Nathalie Bonney @nathaliebonney
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Videographer / director: Ariel Martinez
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, Rafaela Kuznec, Ruby Coote
Editor: Ethan Edwards
Every time he visited the doctor, Alex Porro was given the same advice; to lose weight or even have weight loss surgery because he was so big.
But it took seeing his weight on a pallet scale, for Alex to realise he needed to make a change.
Alex, from South Florida, weighed 480lbs at his heaviest and has lost an astonishing 280lbs just through diet and exercise.
The 27-year-old used to feel intimidated going into gyms but now he gets up at 5am most mornings to do CrossFit and credits his body transformation with his improved confidence and willingness to try new things.
Alex told Barcroft TV: “There are a lot of things that I always knew I couldn't do or I shouldn't do, just knowing the weight that I was at but since I've lost the weight, I've accepted so many challenges.
“I did a Spartan Race, which is an obstacle race with a three-mile run in it. I'm 27 years old, I just learned how to ride a bike this year. Just because I was always bullied and picked on being the fat kid getting on the bike falling off.
“And doing CrossFit. The gym used to make me uncomfortable. Now I'm doing CrossFit every morning at 5am.”
Describing himself as “the big kid in class”, Alex said: “I've always had a problem with my weight.
“I was always picked last at gym and my weight just started to spiral and get out of hand right after high school when I just slowly became less and less active.”
Growing up in a Latin family, dinner times were a big feature with plenty of food and everyone expected to clear their plate. The concept of a calorie was also alien to Alex.
Alex said: “Food was always a comfort as it is for a lot of people, I just abused it.
“And I was just eating all the wrong stuff in all the wrong amounts, just drinking 12 packs of Mountain Dew, eating tons of Oreos, pizza, Chinese buffet, ice cream, you name it, and I was just eating it and overindulging.
“I just had no knowledge of what calories or what eating all these foods was doing besides making my weight go up.”
Age 16, a doctor even warned Alex if he didn’t lose weight he would die.
Alex said: “For my yearly check-in, the doctor actually told me if I didn't lose weight, I wasn't going to live to see 17.”
But Alex didn’t take notice and put on so much weight he couldn’t weigh himself on domestic scales.
Then one day, while making a delivery to a warehouse for his courier job, he decided to stand on the industrial pallet scale.
He said: “I never knew the exact weight that I was at because my doctor’s scale every year would only go up to 350 pounds, so it was always a guessing game.
“I was making a delivery to a warehouse in Deerfield, and it just so happened they had a pallet scale. Just out of curiosity, I stepped on and I was shocked. But also knew that it wasn't a lie, that I was near 500lbs.
“When I stepped on the pallet scale and saw 480lbs, I completely shut down. I don't even think I finished that day of work.
"I went home and completely threw out everything in my fridge that I knew was the problem; the pizzas, the doughnuts, the soda, the Oreos, everything.
“And knowing that I'm an adult now, this is my life, it can either end really soon or I could start taking care of myself. It was all on me.”
In the first month he lost 40lbs just by ditching all liquid calories and only drinking water and a diet of chicken, broccoli and rice cakes.
Alex also found a community of supporters on Instagram, not to mention all the practical advice and tips he received.
He said: “I found a lot of pages that were just proof that you could do it naturally a lot of people were like me and I just followed pages that had cheat sheets for meal preps and different workout routines. I never had a trainer, I never had a nutritionist.”
The lowest weight Alex hit was 199lbs but as he has started to build up muscle he now fluctuates between 200-205lbs. And Alex has gone from being afraid, to stepping into a gym, to going to CrossFit most days a week.
He said: “I currently work out six to seven days a week. Every so often I will do a two-day. I do CrossFit every morning at 5am.”
With such a large amount of weight lost, Alex has been left with a substantial amount of excess skin.
He said: “I lost 280lbs so I have a lot of loose skin in my gut area. However, I was able to shape and sculpt my arms and my back pretty tight. But in my gut and my thighs, I carry a lot of loose skin.
"My loose skin does not currently limit anything I do. I tend to work out sometimes shirtless when the workout gets a little intense.
“I'm always going to be, you know, progressing and always looking at what I can get better.
"I'm happy with my body, aesthetically and how it looks. There are numbers such as like a squat or a bench press that I want to improve on, but from the aesthetics, going from where I was, to where I am now, I’m very happy.”