Bruce Pitcher had always been “a little bit bigger,” but he didn’t really start gaining weight until he decided to emotionally work through a childhood trauma.
“I was sexually abused by my father, so I had to confront all of that,” Pitcher, now 32, tells PEOPLE. “Without even knowing it, [I turned to food for comfort]. It’s like a drug that’s just out there. I was addicted to food, and that’s what I used instead of alcohol or anything like that.”
Eventually, Pitcher tipped the scales at 410 lbs. In an effort to turn his life around, he began auditioning for weight loss reality shows The Biggest Loser and Extreme Weight Loss. After trying out multiple times, Pitcher was finally cast on Extreme Weight Loss in 2014.
“It was like a miracle that it happened,” Pitcher says of being on the show, which helped him lose 201 lbs.
While some contestants on weight loss shows struggle with maintaining progress when they return to the real world, Pitcher has been able to keep off the weight.
“Chris and Heidi [Powell] are really good people, and they taught us about knowing our ‘why’ and keeping our integrity and our promises to ourselves,” he says. “That’s the biggest thing. I had no integrity for myself, I didn’t care about myself. Now I keep my promises to myself. If I say I’m going for 20 minutes at the gym, I don’t stop at 19:59. A lot of it is mental.”
WATCH: Mom Finds Motivation to Lose Over 100 Lbs. After She Discovered Her Husband Was Cheating
Pitcher stays motivated to exercise and eat healthy by thinking about why he wanted to lose weight in the first place.
“It’s not just to look good on the outside, but to feel good on the inside,” he says. “I always say, ‘Choose your hard.’ Is it harder to look in the mirror and not like what you see? Or is it harder to go to the gym and eat clean? I want to put forth an effort every single day.”
The Utah-based motivational speaker currently works out daily, putting in between one and two hours at the gym doing a combination of cardio and lifting.
He also sticks to a macro diet, which involves tracking his protein, carbs and fat intake. A typical day’s diet includes eggs, chicken, vegetables, salads and protein shakes — a far cry from his former diet of 300 oz. of soda and fast food every day.
“My confidence now is through the roof,” says Pitcher. “I never had a girlfriend until I lost the weight, and now I’ve been married for four months. Everything in life is just easier. You feel accomplished, you have more drive. You know that you’re doing what’s best for you, so you can be the best version for everybody else.”