John Giannandrea was at this home in Fresno four years ago when his obese friend suffered a brain aneurysm in the bathroom.
Giannandrea rushed to the bathroom to save his friend, who weighed 450 pounds. But Giannandrea also weighed more than 400 pounds, making it difficult for him to fit in the small bathroom and help his friend.
The only thing that saved Giannandrea’s friend was a quick response from Giannandrea’s girlfriend and a speedy arrival from paramedics.
“The guy was swallowing his tongue and bleeding, so you start grabbing his tongue out of his mouth, so that’s my girlfriend was doing. I was able to get just my fat arm behind the door to help her grab his arm and lift the hand, so I can pull him forward,” Giannandrea said. “At the time, the paramedics just showed up and they were able to help her. They were able to sit him up.”
After seeing his friend at the hospital, Giannandrea came back home that night and realized that could have been him in the hospital.
“I was in the master bathroom at 4:30 in the morning and I realized that I was as big as my closet door. It hit me and I broke down,” Giannandrea said. “It scared me so bad.”
So he put on his shoes at 4:30 a.m. and went for a walk down the block.
“When you’re that big, you don’t really know how to lose weight. You don’t really know how to take the steps,” Giannandrea said. “I made it to three houses and I was already out of breath. I just put my head down and told myself that I will never quit.”
Since the day he made that commitment, Giannandrea lost 225 pounds. Now, he is the owner of True Grit, a personal studio gym in north Fresno.
“I’ve been around bodybuilding for 20 plus years. It was one of those secret underground things,” Giannandrea said. “It was hard for a fat guy to give people health advice, but I knew a lot about it. I had always known about nutrition, but I never applied it to myself.”
Giannandrea’s weight loss journey has been made possible thanks in large part to OGRE, a nutritional supplement which he created and sells online.
“You get tired of broccoli and you get tired of cauliflower. You get tired of spinach and brussel sprouts,” Giannandrea said. “So I went out and started buying all these green supplements. I spent over $800 on all these green supplements and it literally tasted like grass. It was gross.”
Giannandrea wanted to make something that tastes good, so he partnered with a company that would help him find the right ingredients.
But the defining moment came when Giannandrea’s Russian friend told him about her grandmother, who used to put pineapple juice in everything.
“So I called the company and said ‘What about pineapple?’ They said, ‘Never thought about it. Lets try it,’” Giannandrea said. “That’s how the greens was born.”
The supplement fits perfectly for Giannandrea’s schedule.
“I have 13, 14 clients a day. I get here at 5 a.m. every single morning. I leave sometimes after 8 o’clock at night,” Giannandrea said. “I can’t cook four, five meals with vegetables, so it’s easier to warm up some chicken or some turkey or some beef and drink my greens three times a day.”
Although he has lost more than 200 pounds, Giannandrea said the hard part is not losing weight, but rather keeping it off.
“Everyday that I think I’m fixed, everyday that I want to hang out with the boys and eat a pizza, I can’t,” he said. “It’s easy for me to get back in that habit of not eating right and not exercising. A lot of big people fail because they lose weight, then they fall off. They lose motivation. They forget why they started.”
Giannandrea’s constant message to people is that they should lose weight to impress themselves, not anybody else. For people who try to impress others, Giannandrea said it’s easy to lose motivation.
“You want to lose 30 pounds for your high school reunion or you want to lose 100 pounds because you were picked on in school. You want to go back and show that person,” Giannandrea said. “Then you get to your high school reunion and a couple of people go ‘That’s you? I can’t believe that’s you. But the person you most want to impress probably doesn’t show up. So what did you do? You lost 100 pounds for no reason?”