This Man Lost More Than 200 Lbs. After He Realized He Couldn't Fit in the Car He Spent Months Restoring

Colton Lowe lost weight through bariatric surgery and lifestyle changes

Colton Lowe weigh tloss journey
Photo: courtesy Colton Lowe

Colton Lowe had an epiphany last year: his body was holding him back.

Lowe, 23, suspected that his weight was getting dangerously high and that his health may be in jeopardy, but he wasn't too concerned. Then in January 2021, he turned the ignition of his newly refurbished Ford Mustang and realized one simple truth. He was too big to safely drive the car.

"That car was the final nail in the coffin for me. I had spent the summer and fall of 2020 getting it to where I can drive it," the Conroe, Texas native tells PEOPLE.

The car had been his project during COVID, and was supposed to be a culmination of his time, skills and passion. But it has also served as a catalyst for the once 478-lb. Lowe to make major lifestyle changes. Through determination combined with weight loss surgery, he has now lost more than 280 lbs.

Lowe, who works in an auto shop as a parts salesperson, knows his way around a car. He and his father worked on the project together, and his dad found the car. "It was kind of a father and son kind of deal," Lowe says.

Colton Lowe weigh tloss journey
courtesy Colton Lowe

Lowe is a former athlete, but the farther away he got from his football days, the more he would hear hints from his family about his weight.

"Especially from my dad, it was a tough-love kind of thing," Lowe says. "I kept telling him I was fine."

Once he decided to make a drastic change, he explored fad diets, but felt that he needed surgery to get the results he was looking for.

"I knew, because of the surgery, you had to make life-altering changes and habits," Lowe says. "I did not want to be another statistic to where somebody got the surgery and did not follow through with it. I knew I really couldn't mess up at that point in time, so I hunkered down and said 'what needs to be done?'"

Colton Lowe weigh tloss journey
courtesy Colton Lowe

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His doctor, Dr. Jason Balette of Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center in Texas, says Lowe was an ideal candidate for the surgery.

"Colton is a highly-motivated young man that wanted to do more than just diet and exercise alone," Balette tells PEOPLE in a statement. "He took the time to educate himself through our nutritional classes and he got a good understanding of what surgery was able to offer him in conjunction with diet and exercise."

The procedure involves removing nearly 80% of the stomach, including the part that produces the "hunger hormone," resulting in increases in a patient's sense of fullness with much less food, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Balette said that their dedicated team of nurse practitioners, dietitians, and psychologists help patients navigate the surgery and lifestyle changes.

Lowe says his experience was overwhelmingly positive. He says the smaller stomach has helped, but he has had to work hard for results.

"You still have to keep an eye on your calorie count and your fats like you normally would," Lowe says. "I've just learned to enjoy the fresh fruits and grains instead of the packaged stuff."

"I still eat ice cream," Lowe says. "I don't eat it anywhere near as much as I used to, but every now and then I get a little Bluebell Dixie Cup."

He says losing weight has given him more energy. "I find myself wanting to do more than I have ever wanted to before," he says.

Colton Lowe weigh tloss journey
courtesy Colton Lowe

Then, late last year, Lowe's father required a liver transplant. When they received the diagnosis, there were no livers available nationwide, and Lowe hoped he could be a match to donate.

He was tested and approved. He had met the weight requirements. He was ready to give his father his liver immediately.

"I was focused on helping my dad, but I got a lot of compliments from people saying 'what you did was bigger than what most people would be willing to do,'" Lowe says.

"You only get one body," Lowe says. "Take care of yourself. Check up on yourself. Enjoy your life! I was so cooped up with food, I didn't really see much past it."

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