When Charles D’Angelo was 17 years old, he had a realization that would change the course of his life, as well as the lives of many others. He weighed 360 pounds—with a 50-inch waist—and was a victim of bullying at school. “It was difficult for me to make it up a flight of stairs,” he recalls. “I had no social relationships, and I would come home from school in tears because I felt that everything was out of control.” He adds that his father’s side of the family had a history of being overweight and suffered from diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

So, D’Angelo saved his money and went to a gym, thinking he would find the answer to his problems—but, he was turned away because he didn’t have a credit card. “I came home from the gym and plopped down on my bed,” he remembers. “I feared the future that I saw in my relatives and just felt hopeless. I started to cry because I couldn’t see that there was any way out of my situation. I thought that I had put myself out there—and that had taken a huge amount of courage—and I was turned away. So, I said to God, If you will help me to just get healthy and normal, I’ll do more to help other people in my life.” At the time, he didn’t have any idea of the context of what he had just prayed. “All I knew was that God had put a spark in me, giving me a potentiality and a passion, along with a gift for communicating and love for others—despite all the bullying. I just knew I had found my calling.” After drifting off to sleep, D’Angelo says he awoke with a renewed sense of hope.

Over the next two years, D’Angelo lost 160 pounds and has kept it off. During the following decade, D’Angelo (known as ‘The Weight-Loss Coach’) proceeded to develop his approach to healthy living and wrote the book, Think and Grow Thin, which has been endorsed by President Bill Clinton. Using the metaphor of a three-legged stool, D’Angelo explains his methodology. “I always say to my clients, There are three legs to this: One leg is a healthy approach to eating; another is exercise; and then there’s the third leg, which most people are missing, of having the right mindset,” he says. “What I want is for people to focus on getting themselves to a place where they make the decision to live a healthier lifestyle.”

One person who has made that choice is Jeff Levinson, who lost 150 pounds with D’Angelo’s program. “It has forever changed my life,” Levinson says. “Working with Charles, achieving all I could dream of, has increased my confidence level to an all-time high. I have learned to think about food and exercise in a healthy way—using it instead of it using me.”

And according to D’Angleo, his clients are keeping the weight off—with diligence and hard work—including Bruce Baggio, who lost 175 pounds. “I started working with Charles almost three years ago and have been able to maintain my weight loss as a result of the strategies I learned from him,” Baggio says. “My health and entire life changed significantly for the better. I recommend anyone who’s willing to learn a new mindset to consider partnering with Charles!”