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My food addiction threatened to kill me

Zach Pritchett was dangerously overweight and hopeless. Then he found the strength to start over in a surprising way.

Zach Pritchett 's story is proof that you can't go back, but you can start over. Watch his short video above, and read the story behind the story ...

Zach loved food, and for most of his life, he didn’t have to think twice about it.

Zach was always big — and as a football player and wrestler, it was something of an advantage. Like every other kid with talent and dedication, he was focused on the opportunity to become a student athlete.

“Playing football, being the big guy was encouraged and complimented.”

At 11 years old, he remembers having to cut weight to 135 pounds to make the heavyweight wrestling class. 

By his senior year of high school, Zach stood 6 feet, 1 inch and weighed 285 pounds. He had been taking medication for high blood pressure since he was 15.

I was ashamed of my appearance. I had no self-confidence.

A Double-Edged Sword

Zach suffered from anxiety issues, and food had became a way to comfort himself when social interactions became too awkward to handle.

“I had a food addiction,” he says. “Any kind of problem, or if I was worried about anything or anxious about anything, I would just go grab a bag of potato chips, or I would just run to food.”

But Zach’s size only fed the anxiety.

Feeling ashamed of his body, he’d often wear two or three shirts to hide his bulging frame. During South Carolina’s hot summers, he’d do his best to avoid days at the lake and pool parties altogether.

“I was ashamed of my appearance. I had no self-confidence,”  he says. “I was a very shy, introverted person, and I think that all reverts back to the reason I was overweight.”

The future was bleak, and I didn't know which way to turn.

Crisis Hits

Crisis hit his senior year when, as senior captain of the football team, he tore his shoulder seriously. That forced him to sit out of football and wrestling, ending any chance of winning an athletic scholarship.

Zach kept eating like he was still an athlete, and he ballooned to more than 300 pounds by the time he got to college.

With his family history, he knew developing diabetes and other obesity-related diseases was inevitable. He wondered whether he would live long enough to get married and raise a family.

“I wouldn’t really face it. I just would pretend the problem wasn't there and just move on.”

Zach felt stuck and had no hope.

“I was very helpless. The future was bleak, and I didn't know which way to turn.”

You've got this one life; this one body to steward.

A Fresh Start

At the time, Zach was attending NewSpring Church with his family. Despite growing up in church, he had begun to question whether he had a personal relationship with Jesus, even though everyone would have said so.

At an Easter service in 2011, Zach recognized he didn’t have the assurance that he was saved, so he asked Jesus to take complete control of his life.

That proved to be a turning point.

Shortly afterward, he felt Jesus tell him, gently and with hope, that he could no longer ignore his health.

“You've got a fresh start,” he felt Jesus say. “You've got this one life, this one body to steward. How are you going to use it? The old is gone, and the new has come. Be the difference maker that I've called you to be.”

The hopelessness was gone. Instead, there was a conviction that he could and should take action.

Truly, I trusted God, and he gave me so much self-control and discipline. 

No Magic Pills

Immediately, he began to change his lifestyle in a way that he could sustain for the rest of his life.

Zach wrestled with doubt, discouragement, and temptation every step of the way. 

He heard the lies continually in his head:

“Zach, you've been fat your entire life! What makes you think you can actually lose the weight?” “No matter how much weight you lose, you still won’t look good without a shirt on!”

“No one actually thinks you are actually going to lose the weight.”

“You have stretch marks. Those will last the rest of your life, not to mention all the loose skin you are going to have!”

There were no magic bullets, no pills, no surgeries, no special diets. Just the hard work of eating healthier, eating less, working out more. A marathon — not a 40-yard dash.

“At night, When you’re at the fridge and the cookies are right there, you have to make that decision to say, ‘Is this truly worth it or not?’” Zach says. “Truly, I trusted God, and He gave me so much self-control and discipline. This journey has truly changed me from the inside out.”

It's more than just a physical transformation. He changed my heart.

Battle Scars

After four years, he’s 175 pounds, having lost 125 pounds naturally.

“It's more than just a physical transformation. He changed my heart. He changed everything,” Zach says. “I'm truly the happiest and healthiest I've ever been.”

The internal transformation is most evident in Zach’s job as a home health nurse.

The social anxiety that controlled him for years loosened its grip, and he’s now comfortable interacting with others one-on-one in his role as a home health nurse.

“A year-and-a-half ago, if you told me that I was going to be doing what I'm doing now, I would have called you a liar,” he says. “ It scared me to go talk to someone before, but now I have freedom, and I can carry on a conversation with someone with confidence and share Jesus with them through my story.”

The stretch marks and extra skin are there, but Zach just looks at them as his battle scars.

“They are reminders of how far how far I've come and that I'm not going back,” he says, “The reason that I have peace is because I know who I am and whose I am.”

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