After Sal Paradiso’s father died when he was a teenager, he found his comfort in food.
Paradiso, 35, was a senior in high school when his 42-year-old dad suffered a massive heart attack and in order to cope, Paradiso sometimes ate upwards of 10,000 calories per day.
Before he knew it, he was staring down at a scale that read almost 700 pounds.
“I was always the heavy kid in school. It started to spiral right after my father died in late 1998 and just continued," Paradiso told InsideEdition.com. "I knew at the rate I was going that I wasn’t going to make it. I knew that if I wanted to get to 40 I needed to make a drastic change."
Paradiso couldn’t even walk 30 feet without his legs giving out.
“I wouldn’t even call it surviving at that point. I was basically just treading water just to get to the next day,” Paradiso said.
In February 2014, he made the step to schedule a consultation with a weight loss surgeon who helped him put a plan together. He’d eat a high protein, low carb diet and weigh in with the doctor every two months.
The weight started falling off Paradiso as he implemented a diet of only 1,200 to 1,300 calories, swam in his backyard pool, and eventually added in free weight sessions.
Paradiso attempted to have weight loss surgery in November 2015 after having lost 254 pounds on his own, but the doctor was unable to finish the surgery safely.
“It was a long road to get there and then to be a failure at that point was just very defeating but I promised when I started I wouldn’t give up,” Paradiso said.
Paradiso, however, eventually had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, which removes 70 to 80 percent of the existing stomach, in July 2016.
“I was 433 (pounds) the day of surgery,” Paradiso said. “One thing I promised myself when I started was if I’m starting this there’s going to be no failing.”
Paradiso has shed a further 120 pounds since his surgery and is now working towards his goal weight of 215 to 220 pounds; however, he’s now aiming to get his excess skin removed to reach that dream.
The excess skin causes him physical pain and makes him feel insecure at times, he said. He would have to have skin removed from his neck to his ankles.
The GoFundMe page he started has only reached $6,743 of his $100,000 goal, which he said would cover the multiple surgeries his doctor recommended.
The costs of these types of surgeries can vary, but the general range can run from $14,000 to $16,000 for abdominal surgery and $6,000-8,000 for arms, including surgical and hospital fees, according to reports.
Even though he's not able to undergo the surgery yet, Paradiso is thankful for his new lease on life.
“My dad was my main motivation. Now I actually look forward (to the day). I get up early every morning. I do my exercise regimen. I make myself breakfast, lunch. I don’t sleep during the day anymore,” he said.
And to those who are on their own weight loss journeys, Paradiso’s advice is simple.
“Stay strong, keep up fighting. You didn’t get the way you are overnight it’s not gonnaa go away overnight,” Paradiso said.