Obviously, Del Real doesn’t mind talking about numbers when it comes to weight loss. In fact, he almost enjoys it if it inspires someone else.

“The biggest I ever was, I’d say, was probably around 260,” Del Real says. Then, his tone shifts. “I was a kid, a kid at 260 pounds. That’s bad. You know what else, I didn’t have diabetes or anything. I thank God for that, really. If you do the math, thinking about 260 then to me now at 26, it’s scary what could have happened.”

Del Real was an active kid. Even before the weight loss between 8th and 9th grade, he played pee-wee and mite football, but activity was always present in his adolescent life.

“Outside of school, I just played with my friends,” Del Real says. “We played football until the sun went down, we rode skateboards around the neighborhood, just to be out there, to do something. I played baseball, I wrestled, but I was always big.”

Around middle school, Del Real started noticing his eating habits more and more.

“I guess being a Mexican-American and coming from my family, my mom loves to cook. Good food was always around. And I knew nothing about diet. What kid does?” Del Real says. “Like, I remember coming home from school, getting a snack, something like chips or whatever. Then, about 30 minutes later, I’d walk to the shop down the street and get myself a coke and a candy bar. That was just a normal day for me. I started realizing that something had to change.”

So, how does a teenage kid decide to lose all that weight so quickly? For Del Real, it was simple. “I wanted to see how far I could push my body,” Del Real says. “I’m sure everyone’s story is different, like a girlfriend, a boyfriend, family problems or a doctor saying, ‘Hey, you need to lose weight’ can start it. I’m sure there were other reasons too. People saying ‘No, you can’t do it’, ‘You’re going to be big all your life’, ‘It’s a waste of time’, stuff like that bundled up and made me decide to start. I saw the end goal, I saw what I wanted to look like by freshman year, and honestly surpassed my expectations.”

Of course, the big question remains: How did he do it?

“Honestly, what I did was drop the soda, drop the junk food and I stopped going out to eat and fast food,” Del Real says. “I remember going out to eat with my family, say, at Golden Corral. My dad would pay for me to eat at the front and I just… wouldn’t. I wouldn’t eat. I remember thinking that all of the food on the bar was bad. My dad would get so mad, my mom too and asking why I wouldn’t eat. I would just wait until I got home, fix myself something small and eat then.”

Dropping 85 pounds in one summer is hard for anyone, but for a teenage kid, one can only imagine how stressful it might have been. Those formative years are spent looking to friends or family for guidance and support, in one way or another.

“It’s sad now, but felt like I could never please them,” Del Real says. “I have a big family, and my uncles would pick on me. When I was big, they would make fun of me, call me names and stuff. When I was skinny, they would call me small or weak. My mom, too, would say ‘You’re too small, you’re too skinny’. I couldn’t make anyone happy. Looking back, I’m glad they did, though, because it just pushed me to do what I wanted.”

Such a drastic change at a young age is inspiring, but keeping up a healthy lifestyle past that is even more incredible.

“I carry around my middle school ID card and my freshman ID card in my gym bag. If I showed them to you right now, you probably would not recognize me. I carry them with me because sometimes I walk into the gym and think, I don’t know, maybe not today. That’s when I pull out the photos and remember why I started.”

The difference between the two IDs is striking. Even placed side by side, they look as if they belong to two different boys in the Rome City School system.

“I wanted to see how far, mentally and physically, I could push myself, and I did, and I’m still doing that.”

After his weight loss, Del Real went on to wrestle for Rome High. Still active, his weight would fluctuate, then plateau, but he always had the same drive.

“What I kept from then is my discipline. That mentality that, if I want something, I’m going to get it, I’m going to do it. I try to apply it to everything, to work and to my goals.”

Now, Del Real works multiple shifts, always keeping busy in one way or another, but he is still maintaining a healthy lifestyle and chasing his dreams.

“I work out six days a week. I usually spend about an hour and a half, maybe two hours, in the gym. That’s not for everybody, but that’s what makes me feel good. On my off days, I’m active. I’ll go hiking. And nutrition, nutrition is key. I count my macros, I keep track of fat, protein and carbs too. My girlfriend and I keep up the healthy meals so that we can reward ourselves with one ‘cheat meal’ on the weekend, like a good burger or something. I’m always looking forward to that burger,” Del Real laughs.

“My girlfriend and I both struggled with weight loss and together we started an athletic lifestyle brand. It’s not about looking better than the person next to you, it’s about feeling better and performing better. It’s called Ohana Athletics. I’m not Hawaiian, but ohana means family, and family is so important to me. You can live an active lifestyle and not have it take over your life. I still spend time with my family, my girlfriend, my friends, and that’s so important.” Del Real acknowledges that living a lifestyle committed to personal health has its challenges.

The hardest part for him is something we can all relate to, no matter our goals.

“The hardest part is just the excuses. All the time, I think, Man, I have so much to do today or I just don’t have the time, whatever it is, that’s the hardest part, just pushing past those excuses. The best part, though? The food. That burger at the end of the week!”

For all those wanting to make a change in their lives, Del Real has a few words of wisdom. “My advice is to set small goals and achieve them. Like, your goal could be to go to the gym four days in a row. So, go out and achieve that. Also, not meeting those goals is okay. Just keep trying. Also, just living a healthier lifestyle that’s good for them and for the people they love. “You just have to think, I can do this. I know that sounds really cookie-cutter, but it’s real life,” Del Real emphasizes. “There are people out there with bigger transformations than me, and I’m sure they had a mindset like that. You just have to believe you can do it, and you can.”