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‘A new lease on life’

Hartselle man embarks on weight loss journey

When Jason Armstrong woke up after 27 days in a medically-induced coma, he knew it was time for a change. Having arrived at the hospital weighing 577 pounds and leaving at 394, he is now on a journey to reclaim his life – one pound at a time.

Armstrong said he has struggled with his weight most of his life, but it became an even bigger problem in the wake of his mother’s death in 2007.

“Food had become a comfort. I was severely depressed, and I didn’t care what my body could do, and I didn’t care what people thought,” Armstrong said.

Everything changed in December 2019, when Armstrong fell and was unable to get up. He struggled with regaining his strength and eventually checked into the hospital a few days later after days of feeling weak.

“When I went into the hospital, I weighed 577 pounds. I was very ashamed of that weight,” he said. “I guess since right after Christmas, something happened, and they put me in a sedated coma with medication to see what was going on with me. They said I had pneumonia and respiratory failure, and they were worried about my heart.

“They did a tracheotomy on my neck in my trach area, and I was in a coma for 27 days.”

As he returned to consciousness, Armstrong’s doctors put him on what they called a heart-healthy diet – 1,500 calories per day. Though Armstrong said it is a difficult diet that requires constant vigilance in counting calories, he found additional motivation when he was finally able to return home in May.

“I had a new lease on life. I was like, I need to change it, and I need to change it now,” Armstrong said. “I have a 14-year-old niece who adores me, and she wants me to be around for her. I don’t think of her as my niece; I am not married, and I don’t have kids, so I think of her as my own daughter.”

After a heartfelt reunion with his niece, Armstrong began his journey to a healthier self. He has continued his heart-healthy diet and has taken to walking, even on the hard days – dedication that has yielded results.

“When I came home, trying to wear clothes – they were too big now,” Armstrong said. “My aunt said, ‘I am going to bring some elastic and sew extra so it will hold your pants up tighter at the waist.’ The first day that I actually walked – and I was happy that I did it because my niece got to see me walk for the first time in months – you could see how big they looked. They looked like a skirt, they were so big. A few months back, they fit me perfectly.”

Armstrong will soon embark on the second leg of his health journey. After being denied for a tummy tuck procedure to remove excess skin, he will be undergoing a gastric sleeve procedure later this year.

Armstrong said he hopes to continue his weight loss journey and to inspire others to pursue a healthy lifestyle. He credits his faith in God for being able to continue.

“I tell people to just do what their doctor tells them to do. If the doctor tells you to stick to it, then stick to it,” he said. “It’s more mental than anything. If you want to lose weight, it’s easy to tell yourself that you have to do it.

“I have some people say it’s easier to just eat, but you have to have the willpower … I give God all the glory.”

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