At 18, he was faced with a painful decision: He could either stay in Brazil and go pro or go back to his hometown of Dallas, Texas, to save his long-distance relationship. He chose his girlfriend and walked away from soccer for good.
But when things didn’t work out, Kingery took it hard. In just one year, he became 100 kilos heavier. As he found comfort in food and booze, the 75-kilo athlete he knew was gone and the scale read 175 kilos — his heaviest weight ever.
“I was known as this high school athlete, and going from that to this, I can remember people being like, ‘Oh my god, what happened?’” Kingery told Men’s Health. “I was just depressed and spiralling into addiction.”
In 2009, Kingery moved to Los Angeles to start his own fashion brand, Prep Couture, which catered to celebrities like Kanye West and Justin Bieber. And while he seemed to have it all on the outside, on the inside, he was suffering. “I couldn’t wear anything I made,” he says. “I was always the man behind the scenes because I didn’t actually want to be seen.”
Reality hit him once again just a year later after one of his closest friends was killed by a drunk driver. Kingery suddenly realised how short life could truly be.
“I said to myself, ‘Okay, I’ve got to stop drinking and get a handle on this. I’ve got to get back to the soccer player I was in high school,’” he recalls.
So Kingery mirrored the diet and workouts he followed when he was in shape. He swapped his daily 7,000-calorie Chinese buffet meals for simple whole foods. He stepped back into the gym and ramped up his cardio using the treadmill and elliptical. He worked up to lifting again to build muscle.
He even cut out booze. Slowly, 148 pounds melted off. “But my self-esteem still wasn’t there — I still felt like I was 356 pounds,” Kingery says. “I was constantly fighting that.”
Nine months later, Kingery relapsed. “I didn’t want to think about how bad I felt anymore, so I slipped back into my addiction to alcohol,” he says.
He fell back into other unhealthy habits, too, like skipping his workouts and eating greasy fast food. Kingery gained back almost all the weight he lost, hitting 320 pounds again.
“I felt like I had it all financially, but personally, I felt empty. I didn’t want to keep going,” he says. “So one day, I brought a bottle of vodka and a handful of painkillers with me up to the 31st floor of my building. I wanted to jump.
“But then one of my best friends called, and I told him what I was about to do and he rushed over. The next thing I remember is him saying, ‘If anyone can change, you can, but you have got to find yourself. If this moment can’t change you, nothing will.’ That hit me hard.”
Kingery decided from then on that he’d channel his addictive personality into something positive: getting healthy — this time for good. “The gym became my sanctuary,” he says. “Being strategic about my routine was the only way I was going to figure out what worked for me.”
Because he was so successful the first time around, Kingery approached weight loss the same way again. He spent 30 minutes on either the treadmill or the elliptical almost every day. When he could do that with little struggle, he added strength training back into the mix.
His current routine looks like this: Five days a week, he spends 20 minutes on the Stairmaster to get his heart rate up. Then, he lifts, doing five sets of 10 to 15 reps of his chosen exercise, increasing the weight with each set. This includes bicep curls, chest flys, dumbbell presses, and squats, but also bodyweight exercises like pullups and tricep dips.
The secret to his six-pack? He does use tools like ab wheel rollers to work his core, but nutrition has made the biggest impact by far, he says. Kingery eats four meals a day, scheduling carb-heavy meals right before and after his workouts.
He also loads up on protein — like lean cuts of meat, eggs, and Greek yogurt — so he can build and maintain his lean muscle. His go-to snack? Greek yogurt topped with either flavoured protein powder or peanut butter powder, which satisfies his sweet tooth sans the added sugar.
“You’ve got to love what you’re eating,” he says. “If you can’t see yourself doing this in the next three months, it’s not going to work for you.”
n 2016, Kingery got down to 80 kilos, and wanted to share everything he’d learned along the way with others. A year later, he stepped away from fashion to become a nutritionist.
“I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to try and break bad habits. I really wanted to have a purpose in other people’s journeys and see their lives transformed," he says. He even helped his mom lose 50 kilos.
The same year he changed careers, he also got skin removal surgery. “I rebuilt my body, but for me, it’s so much more than skin-deep,” he says. “This journey has been excruciating, but so worth it. I’ve been sober four years, and I’m a better brother, a better son, and a better friend because of it.”
Today, 30-year-old Kingery still weighs in at 80 kilos. His advice for those looking to make a change in their own lives? Focus on what you can do to help yourself going forward — don’t dwell on the past too much.
“We cannot change what happened yesterday, but what you do today can change tomorrow.”
This article originally appeared on Men's Health
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