Andrew: Breaking Through Obstacles and Thriving

Andrew James Tatum
A man shares his story of recovering from drug use while also addressing his unhealthy weight.

Andrew James Tatum - Nutrition Level 1 Coach

All my life I struggled with my weight, which led to depression, social anxieties, and self-doubt. Throughout middle school and high school, I was picked on and had few friends. After high school, I recognized that I had the opportunity to rebuild myself and decided to try and lose weight, but not the healthy way. I ran, didn’t eat, and took so much Hydroxycut I’m surprised my heart didn’t explode… but I lost the weight! I went down from 220lbs to 150lbs in just a few short months. Everything was going well, until my father was diagnosed with cancer and later passed away in April 2004, which put me on a downward spiral.

Over the next few years, I became addicted to a slew of drugs ranging from cocaine to meth to oxycodone and plenty more. Even with drug use, I maintained a pretty well-paying job in Atlanta, Georgia until the economy tanked in October 2008 and I was let go. I had another job lined up, but failed the drug test. So, with nowhere else to go I decided that it would be best for me to move back to Gainesville, Florida and try to rebuild.

Initially, Gainesville was going as planned: I was drug free for the first few months, but once the money came in things went downhill quick. I found oxycodone and Xanax as a good combination and continued to indulge in food. My life continued to decline as my body made up artificial pain, my mind began playing tricks, and I lost another job due to my drug habit. So, in April 2011 I decided enough was enough and completely kicked the habit. I changed my surroundings and ceased communication with other users. While I anticipated the weeks of withdrawals, I didn’t anticipate that they’d take months or even more than a year.

After that April, I became much more of an introvert and my diet worsened. Not until June 2013, did I look at my then 330lb self and ask, “What am I doing in life?” For too long I believed, that being overweight was just who I was. Then I recalled that it wasn’t more than a couple years ago that I believed that being addicted to drugs wasn’t going to be my life. I took a deep breath and asked myself, “Why not me? Who said that I can’t be healthy, active, social, and enjoy life?” I began writing down why my many past attempts to lose weight failed, and it all came down to not understanding nutrition and how my body works. Counting calories or points never worked and wasn’t sustainable.

I now lead a sustainable life powered by proper nutrition, exercise, and finding things I enjoy doing that bring along some adrenaline rushes (like biking). I’ve since started Get Leveled Up to share my story and inspire others to breakthrough their obstacles and thrive!

Last Updated: 12/18/2015