Known for his 2009 club hit “Last Night a DJ Saved my Life,” (featuring Lula), Aviance told Yahoo he got fed up with his weight when seeing the successful track’s video on rotation on MTV and VH1 made him cringe because he didn’t realize he’d gotten so big. “I had been big for pretty much all of my life,” he said, “and I was sick of hating myself. It was now or never.”
“I was 450 pounds—I was two cheeseburgers away from diabetes or high cholesterol. I’d been drinking a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew every day, and if I went through any local drive-thru, they knew my name—that’s how often I used to eat that stuff.” said Aviance. He tossed all of the toxic junk food and soda in his kitchen and swore off drive-thru dining at his fast food haunts. His ambitions were big but his budget wasn’t, because like a lot of Americans, he’d recently been laid off and didn’t have a lot to work with. “I was unemployed and couldn’t afford a gym membership or fancy diets,” says Aviance. “I realized that walking was the easiest exercise I could do and it cost nothing. So I grabbed my dance music and tennis shoes, and started walking.” Pleased with the results from walking, he also started to incorporate breaks for pushups and other strength-training moves during his walks. “I do pushups right in the street—the city is my gym,” he says.
A friend suggested that he check out the 99 Cents Only Store for groceries to get by while he was in transition. Aviance said he was surprised to see that the discount store was stocked with plenty of wholesome options. “Oatmeal, raisins, nuts, bananas, apples, oranges, bell peppers, spinach, salad dressing, tuna fish, eggs… I was shocked. I was blown away. I literally spent no more than $50 a week on food.” (Check out some of his meal plan suggestions, here.)
After 18 months, Aviance says lost 250 pounds, and his doctor confirmed that he was no longer at risk for diabetes, elevated cholesterol, or high blood pressure. “I’ve always been a very happy guy who would kid around with anyone, but when I was heavy, I felt like I had to be that way because I thought people were judging me based on my size. But now it’s a happiness that is really shining from the inside out.” What’s your secret for staying fit on skinny budget? — Casandra Armour