Ronnie Brower knew that he needed to lose weight.
At his heaviest, he weighed 675 pounds. Obesity took a major toll on his health, and he was suffering from depression and addiction. He had extreme eating habits, and he didn’t know how to make a change.
Brower admits that he’d eat 10 double cheeseburgers or two large pizzas in a single sitting. Finally, he reached his breaking point after a visit to his doctor.
“My doctor told me if I kept on like this I’d be dead before I was 30,” Brower told People. “I was 28.”
That’s when he knew that if he didn’t start changing, he wouldn’t survive. A friend told him to visit his local gym, Mission Fitness, so he called them and spoke with trainer and gym owner Nick Murphy.
With Murphy’s help, he changed his diet, dealt with his addictions, and began exercising at home. In just 100 days, he lost 100 pounds, and he was healthy enough to start going to the gym regularly.
“My job 24 hours a day was to get healthy and save my life,” he said.
That’s where Brower caught the eye of Andrea Masella.
She was on a journey of her own, as she was cutting calories to work her way down from her top weight of 250 pounds. Masella also struggled with her weight, and she was making positive lifestyle changes; she recognized Brower’s determination, and they started to talk.
Soon, they were dating, frequently spending time together at their gym. They loved to play ping pong and basketball, and they shared their experiences with weight loss.
“Both of us had used food as a coping mechanism; I would just eat my feelings,” Masella said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’ve gone through a lot of counseling to come to terms with that and change.”
Together, they’ve avoided a relapse, drawing from their shared experiences to lose a combined 578 pounds.
They’re both trim, fit, and healthy. Most importantly, they fell in love.
They’ve faced a few challenges, of course. Brower underwent three surgeries to remove excess skin, and Masella stayed by his side. She says that she was attracted to him, in part, due to his determination to get healthy.
“I just loved that Ronnie took care of himself,” Masella told ABC News. “He just got healthy and shed all of this weight.”
“I often thought before I met Ronnie, ‘What am I going to do? I hope I meet someone that lives healthy too, because otherwise I could just go backwards,” she said.
Brower agreed with that assessment.
And after dating for a while, Brower decided to ask Masella to take a walk with him…down the aisle. On May 17, 2017, the couple was married in Syracuse, New York.
Brower’s best man was Nick Murphy, his trainer and the owner of Mission Fitness. After all, Brower credits Murphy with saving his life—and if Brower had never visited his local gym, he might not have found his future wife.