Sat, May 13, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Weight-loss couple to wed

AP

Ronnie Brower and Andrea Masella pose for a selfie in an undated photograph.

Photo: Ronnie Brower via AP

Frustrated with his weight that peaked at 306kg, Ronnie Brower began dieting and working out on his way to losing 208kg. His four-year fitness journey, chronicled on Facebook, earned him the admiration of a woman at his gym who was also trying to lose a lot of weight.

Brower and Andrea Masella formed a bond around that shared mission, and today they are to get married in their hometown of Syracuse, New York, celebrating their new lives and all they have lost together: a combined 262kg.

“I was just really inspired by him and I thought he was super cute,” Masella, 24, said. “We started talking at the gym and I hate to sound cliche, but it was love at first sight.”

Nick Murphy, Brower’s personal trainer and best man, calls it “a match made in heaven, a storybook movie.”

Masella said she and Brower plan to continue to support not only each other in their commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but to counsel and inspire others as well.

“Both of us had used food as a coping mechanism; I would just eat my feelings,” Masella said. “We’ve gone through a lot of counseling to come to terms with that and change.”

Brower, 32, is slim and happy now, but he said that he hit his peak weight and rock bottom in 2013 when he was so heavy he could barely leave his parents’ house.

“I was depressed, addicted to pills and alcohol, eating 10 double cheeseburgers or two large pizzas at a time,” Brower said. “My turning point was, my doctor told me if I kept on like this, I’d be dead before I was 30. I was 28.”

At the urging of a friend, Brower contacted Murphy and under his guidance, gave up drugs and alcohol, followed a low-carbohydrate diet and started working out for three hours a day, beginning with simply lifting his arms while sitting in a chair.

Within 100 days, he had lost 45kg and was able to leave the house and go to the gym for his workouts.

When he met Masella after 23 months, he had shed much of his excess weight. At 163cm, she had weighed 113kg in 2014 and was on her way to losing 54kg.

Brower was grateful for Masella’s loving care when he underwent four surgeries to remove about 14kg of sagging skin.

He now works two jobs, as a school bus driver and a loading dock worker, and has moved out of his parents’ house.

“People come to me all the time asking for weight-loss advice,” Brower said. “I just tell them there’s hope out there. If you want it bad enough and put your mind to it, anybody can do it.”

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