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how i lost it

DJ Austin lost 30 pounds.

DJ Austin

Caledon, Ont., 22

Pounds dropped: 30

My turning point: I was nearly seven years old when my dad died. He was out for a bike ride and suffered a massive heart attack at 41.

No one could believe this physically fit man could die so suddenly, but the autopsy showed his arteries were blocked. My dad's dad died at 47, also of a heart attack.

This pattern of grandfather/father alerted the doctors and I was checked out at Sick Kids. Sure enough I had high cholesterol, even at a young age. I was checked every six months.

Both my parents were active on a daily basis and went to the gym regularly – they were great role models for fitness, but as a kid, I preferred television and computer games.

When I was diagnosed as an officially overweight teenager, they wanted to put me on statins, and I hated having my blood taken.

That was it for me – I remember being a young teen and knew I didn't want to be put on drugs, hated all the doctor's visits, and I didn't want to suffer the same fate my dad and grandpa did.

My method: I had a good role model in my Big Brother, Jason. He had lost weight through a contest at his gym. I decided I would join a gym and started using weights and an elliptical. This was really rewarding in itself, but the weight didn't come off until I changed my diet.

Lean meats, protein shakes, egg whites, fruits and veggies, brown rice and whole grains, fresh natural foods – at first I craved the junk food, but now I know it's about healthy, whole foods to fuel my body. I kept notes on my workouts and in the beginning weighed my food. I made sure to keep healthy snacks with me so I wouldn't feel hungry.

Today, I absolutely love the gym: It is a way of life for me. My cholesterol has been great for the past five years and people are constantly saying to me that I look great, and asking me how I lost it.

My kryptonite: Absolutely, without question, my guilty pleasure is white vanilla birthday cake. I know – it's a little odd. I can't quite explain it, but I just need to have it from time to time. Moderation is always key though – I do have to be careful and watch not to eat too much.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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