By Chloe Sweet @ChloeSweet
Scroll down for the full story
Videographer / director: Elie Khadra
Producer: Chloe Sweet, Ruby Coote
Editor: Florence Kennard
In 2015, Chris Jimenez weighed 360lbs. He struggled to carry out basic tasks, like tying his shoelaces, and realised he needed to drastically change his lifestyle.
Four years later, the aspiring personal trainer from California now weighs 185lbs and is encouraging others to become the best version of themselves.
Chris told Barcroft TV: “Before my journey I was a very depressed person. I never went out, I didn’t want to talk to anybody and I was always playing video games, never active.
“I actually wasn’t living my life being big as I was, because I was so limited to what I could do.
“I realised that going down that path was not going to lead me anywhere down the line, except for a heart attack at a young age.”
Chris’ older brother, Aaron, added: “Since I can remember he was always the bigger kid in the class.
“At 10 years old or eight years old, something around there - they were telling him that he wasn’t going to make it past his 21st birthday.”
Despite the odds, Chris managed to lose an astonishing 180lbs – which he claims was achieved by ditching his diet of sugary treats and becoming more aware of his food intake.
He also started working out in the gym, taking on high-intensity cardio sessions to burn fat and then eventually using weights to build muscle.
At the beginning of his journey he was unable to run on a treadmill for more than two or three minutes. Now, he says, he is “comfortably” running for 15-20 minutes at a time.
“I wasn’t in no way shape or form physically active. I was just eating and eating and eating,” Chris said.
Talking about his first experience at the gym, he said: “I actually remember the day.
“The hardest part about the beginning was actually mentally coming here [into the gym], because I thought people were laughing at me.
“Now it has turned into a passion.”
Owner of New York Fitness, Chris’ regular gym, is Shawn Karai. He says he is used to seeing Chris twice a day.
Shawn told Barcroft TV: “To get what Chris has done takes a whole lot of effort.
“He is doing what 99.99 percent people couldn’t do. He is in here and he is dedicating to how he eats and he maintains going to school, going to work, working out twice a day.
“He has done remarkable things, he really has.”
As a result of losing so much weight, Chris has been left with excess skin on his stomach and is saving to eventually go under the knife to remove this skin.
Even during his teenage years, Chris weighed around 300lbs and had difficulties controlling his cravings. He was adopted at a young age and admits using food as a coping mechanism for his internal struggles.
He explained: “My biological mom wasn’t mentally fit to be a parent and eventually we got put into the foster care system.
“One day she just couldn’t take the pressure anymore and took her life.
“Thinking about it now, losing your mom that young, your family not stepping up to take you in, it just made me feel like I was just not wanted.”
Although he doesn’t completely blame his eating habits on his depression, he did say that it “played a role” in his substantial weight gain.
“I was bottled up and food was always there for me,” he added.
His adopted mother, Janice, said: “It was very hard to see what he was going through with his struggles when he was younger.
“We don’t know what his life would have been like if he stayed like that.
“The metamorphism that he went through, like the caterpillar, he is just beautiful.”
Chris’ younger sibling Sebastian recalls growing up and watching his big brother struggle to accept his body.
He said: “He would always be covered up with the shirt on.”
But Chris’ new-found determination has even inspired Sebastian to work on his own lifestyle. Nowadays instead of playing video games, the siblings go to the gym together, where Chris teaches his brother different exercises.
Sebastian added: “He didn’t feel good about himself and to see him turn this all around… I am proud of him.
“He is my inspiration and I can’t wait to see where he goes in his journey.”
Due to his former weight and lack of confidence, Chris claims to have had a “non-existent” dating life. But now he has a loving girlfriend, Dyani, who supports him in his health journey.
“I didn’t think anybody would be with me. I wasn’t living a quality life. I wasn’t even living life really.
“She’s just so funny and great and I feel like I can truly be myself around her.”
Chris’ advice to other people trying to lose weight? Never give up.
“I remember when I first started my weight loss journey, looking into the mirror, not for one second I liked the reflection of it. I just saw a broken person.
“Now I look at myself and I see progress, I see goals I see what I want out of life.
“To everybody that wants to transform their body and transform their life, it is possible.”
Chris is raising funds for his excess skin surgery by setting up a clothing line, which he hopes also to inspire others to achieve their goals. You can check out his brand, Lionheart, here: https://www.projectlionheart.co/