What if I told you Robert Browne, Harrison Central’s assistant football coach and powerlifting coach, used to be 355 pounds?
Browne, 30, has a professional body builder’s physique which he has carefully crafted over the years — but he didn’t always look that way.
Men’s Health magazine recently did a feature on the buff Red Rebel, highlighting his victory over weight gains and how he’s inspiring his students by documenting his progress.
Browne was actually taken aback when someone from Men’s Health reached out to him on Instagram, where he promotes healthy living through photos.
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“We talked for about an hour and next thing I know she did a writeup,” said Browne, who has been bombarded by messages from friends since the story hit the internet on Monday morning. “It’s wild.”
In the article, Browne discussed how an old football injury led to his weight skyrocketing to 355 pounds as recently as late 2013. A subsequent health scare, however, gave Browne, who is also a health and weightlifting teacher at HCHS, the nudge he needed to get his weight in check.
He dropped all the way down to 218 pounds before purposefully bulking up to 260. He currently weighs about 235 pounds.
Browne uses his transformation to motivate his students. He said the main lesson isn’t “how to lose weight,” which might be the easiest part. The lesson is: Be OK with who you are and find your own healthy lifestyle.
“A lot of people don’t know the before,” he said. “That’s why I tell people I’ve seen it from both sides. I’ve actually had people judge me for being fat and I’ve seen people judge me for being fit. I understand society wants you to be average, middle of the road, no extremes.
“That’s why I try to teach my kids it’s OK to be different. When I was big, I didn’t have any self-esteem issues. ... I changed because I almost had a stroke.”
In the Men’s Health article, he outlined his diet, as well as his weightlifting habits — at least six days a week and sometimes twice a day when he’s training with his powerlifters in season.