Worth the Weight: Memphis man hopes to inspire others through weight loss journey

Published: Feb. 20, 2022 at 5:34 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Darnell Settles starts every day with a sweat session.

“I have gym days and bike days. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are gym days,” said Settles.

It’s a lifestyle change that’s transformed not only his mind but also his body.

“Altogether I lost around 260 pounds,” said Settles.

At his heaviest, Settles weighed 560 pounds and says he always struggled with his weight.

“I gained weight pretty much my entire life with the exception of a couple periods where my mom put me on a diet with a doctor or I’ve had a spurt of going for walks before work,” Settles said.

It wasn’t until he reached a low point after a bad relationship that he realized his weight caused others to judge him -- not for who he was, but what he looked like.

“I’m a good person and you’re judging me based on this thing, and that’s really the moment that started it all,” said Settles.

His transformation started in February 2017 after he went through cabinets to throw out junk food in his kitchen and hit the gym the same day.

He had minor hiccups but says he never looked back.

“I think some of it was so much determination to prove to people that they weren’t better than me or that I wasn’t less than and that really kept me going,” Settles said.

Settles was serious about his weight loss journey.

Learning to meal prep, portion his food and work out, he documented the entire process.

Soon, he noticed the weight started falling off.

Lyndsey Acree, Clinical Dietitian at Baptist DeSoto says in her work, she hasn’t encountered many men who are vocal about their weight loss journey.

“Most of the people I’ve come across in the hospital and surrounding my life are kind of just more quiet than the women. I’d say it’s more pronounced in our environment and society,” said Acree.

But she says living a healthier lifestyle is easier than you think, and encourages both men and women to make small changes like being mindful of portion sizes or limiting junk food.

“People get overwhelmed and think that they have to change 15 things all at once, and I try to always say start with one thing,” said Acree.

Settles’ weight loss journey has opened him up to new opportunities and experiences including another chance at love.

“My wife, I met her in Miami. I was in Miami because someone invited me to their birthday party, and I didn’t have to think ‘oh can I fit on an airplane.’ It was ‘Oh, let me just buy a ticket and go down there,’” said Settles.

Darnell married Eboni Settles in September 2021.

She says her life has also changed as a result of Darnell’s journey, losing 30 pounds since the couple met.

“Just being more mindful about eating and really understanding that health truly is wealth, and we are really trying to build a life together and health is definitely a part of that,” said Eboni.

Settles hopes his journey will inspire others, that they too can overcome obstacles and achieve life-long goals.

“I think once you figure out your why and the how and if you just be consistent, like some people say half the battle is just showing up -- it truly, truly is just showing up,” said Settles.

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