Dangerously Close to Death to Earn a Living

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David Smith lost 401 lbs in 26 months using Chris Powell's system

In June of 2003, I was contacted by a ‘Good Morning Arizona’ viewer asking for help. His name was David Smith. He weighed 630 pounds and was given only about 4 more years left to live. At first, I just wanted to sit down and talk to him. I knew that we could change his body, but I needed to see if he was ready to make the change in his lifestyle. Within 10 minutes of talking to him, I knew that I would devote the next couple years of my life to changing his. David was never given a chance in life. He had no one to teach him, no one to believe in him. I drove out to his house every other day for a year and a half to work with him.

For the first month we focused on nutrition…because once you understand nutrition, you understand how to control the body. I taught him food combinations, meal timing, and how to portion foods to maximize results. To make sure that his program was successful, it had to be enjoyable and easy. I gave him cheat days every other day to look forward to, and began the phases of The Carb Cycle Solution™ – first resetting his metabolism, then moving through the phases to maximize weight loss. Whenever his weight loss plateaued, we would simply reset his metabolism and cycle him through the phases again…until he reached his goal weight.

As David lost weight, he began to turn his life around. Once he could fit into a car, he got his driver’s license, received his GED, and got his first job. He began working at a gym and studying to become a personal trainer to ‘pay it forward’ to others in need of help. As he began spending more time at work, I needed to find a way to help him control his nutrition outside of the house. I made a containerized system for him to carry, portion, and time his meals at work – and so the concept of the STAX Nutrition System was born.

In 26 months, he lost 401 pounds. He averaged almost 17 pounds of weight loss per month. Most importantly, he did it the natural way…without gastric bypass. I received thousands of emails from people inspired by David Smith’s weight loss success, who once thought gastric bypass was their only option. It isn’t.

Throughout the process, we became the best of friends. It is now our vision to educate, motivate, and inspire anyone and everyone that the human body is an amazing machine that can be transformed through nutrition and exercise. With a simple lifestyle program and the tools to make it easy, we can change our body however we want.

His success inspired the best medical professionals in the Southwest to donate their services to help David complete his transformation. With their help, he has been able to shed his old self to become the true David he has always been inside. A very special thanks to the incredibly generous doctors and institutions that donated their services and supplies to help David in his journey.
My name is David Smith, I have an all too common name, but I am not at all common. I was at one time well over six-hundred pounds...six-hundred and thirty to be precise.

What I am about to share with you is very personal and painful - my family does not even know about it - My Past & My Demons. When I was six years old I was molested several times by someone...someone I trusted. It was not a family member or an adult that molested me, it was another child - my first friend I ever made. This is where my problems began, I have looked back at my life many times to find where I lost myself - when I turned to food as my friend...and that is where it all starts.

I was never able to develop my social skills as a child. Until now, I have lived a lonely life, a life that never felt comfortable to me because in my heart I knew it wasn't for me. I have lived in the same house for almost twenty of my twenty seven years of life, and what do I have to show for it? Nothing. No friends at all, no job. I feel like a stranger, an outsider...nobody knows the real me, not even my family. Until recently, I didn't know the real me either.

When I was seven we moved to the East Valley of the Phoenix area. My abusive friend was gone, but my shame wasn't. The only thing that made me feel happy was food and soda, because it didn't judge me, it didn't hurt me, and it numbed the pain. By the time my wounds began to heal, another problem arose - my weight. I was the fattest and one of the tallest kids in every school I attended. I always kept to myself, hoping that someone would make the first contact and be my friend. I didn't know how to reach out and communicate with people. I didn't want to be hurt again. I was full of shame.

Even though I was the biggest kid in school, I was always picked on because I never stood up for myself, unless I was provoked - and you never want to poke a bear. When I was in school, everybody used to play a game where they would try to provoke me into a fight, then twenty kids would try to restrain me. I didn't mind it because it made me look tough and I would never have to fight anyone. That opened up the flood gates - I was a measuring stick for everyone who wanted to look tough in front of everybody. When I was eleven I was fighting kids and teenagers I didn't even know. They would just come up to me and start punching me. I have been spit on, I have had dirt clots, rocks, bolts, basketballs, books, even feces among other things thrown at me. It started to take a toll on me. I started to hate people. Nobody wanted to be my friend. I didn't even want friends anymore, I just wanted to be left alone.

In high school the physical abuse stopped because I was too big to be picked on, but the emotional abuse started and continued up until last year. This hurt the most. I could heal my bumps and bruises over time, but my soul couldn't heal as fast.

When I was seventeen I dropped out of high school - something I have always regretted, because most of my family has dropped out. I couldn't take it anymore. I was having panic attacks just walking down the halls of the high school. I would walk with my head down and just concentrate on walking. I didn't want to see my tormentor's faces. I still don't know what they look like. I just remember the taunts and the laughter they directed toward me.

Seven years ago my mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. My mother and I were very close. You could have called me a 'Momma's Boy.' It was very stressful on the family, especially me because my mom was the only one that I allowed myself to show love to. My family and I took care of her the best we could at the end, but I almost needed help too - because of my weight. She died almost two years ago, and it hit me hard. The first month I hardly ate anything, but after the first month I was an eating machine. I didn't care about anything. I just wanted to get my fix and be left alone.

My social disorder got a hundred times worse I could not go out in public without feeling like the elephant man. When I went out in public everybody stared, pointed, made comments to each other, and even laughed behind my back. Sometimes, they even laughed in my face. I felt ashamed every time I stepped outside my door, just like the shame I felt when I was molested. I felt anger for people, like I felt anger for my abusive friend. I hated you all. I felt that everybody thought of me as a joke, that I was put on this earth to entertain you all. My soul was in agony every time I would try to sleep I could hear it moan. My heart was turning evil and I was going insane. I started talking to myself because I had no one to talk to. I could go a week and only speak once or twice to a family member.

I couldn’t go on living anymore, so I felt that suicide was my only option. This is where my social disorder kept me from killing myself. At this point in my life I couldn’t even step outside in my backyard until it was dark out. I was so afraid of being made funof, I thought that if I did kill myself, maybe the police and mortuary people would make fun of my body. I didn’t want to be a joke in death as I was in life. I postponed it until I came up with a way to kill myself and not leave a body. I thought of many ways to end it but, I picked fire. It was a perfect plan. I would buy a plastic swimming pool and some gasoline. My death would be painful because that is what I thought I deserved. I even picked a spot on the map - a dry lake bed called the Painted Rock Reservoir. I wanted to be as far away as possible from my home because I didn’t want my ghost to haunt my house...I had already haunted it for twenty years. Instead, I wanted to haunt the desert. When I lit myself on fire as planned, maybe my screams could be heard in the city, maybe my screams would let me be free from my pain, maybe I would be like a phoenix and be reborn in my flames and ashes. I was so close to doing it, until one day in May I decided to change my life.

I was in my room really depressed about my life, regretting everything I did wrong in my past - like never graduating, never having a girlfriend, never playing high school sports - the usual 'Why me'? Why me? Why did life past me by? Then I realized I could sit here the rest of my life regretting everything - or try to fix my life. Live my life like I was supposed to live it. If I didn’t, I realized I would regret this point of my life, my turning point, the point when I could have done something. I knew my weight was going to catch up to me sooner or later. I felt that if I didn’t do something soon, I would have to go to the hospital.
1. Gastric bypass surgery. I decided against it because it was too risky I didn’t want to die on the operating table. I didn’t want to leave behind my obese body to be mocked by people.
2. Lose the weight the old fashion way - learn proper nutrition and exercise.
3. Suicide by fire.

I picked number 2, and I am glad I did. I started a new plan...not one that would take my life, but one that would save my life. The first thing I needed to do was to let my past go. It was eating me up too much, if I wanted a new life I had to start fresh. No more regretting my past mistakes and decisions. The second thing I needed to do was get over my fear of the outside world. I knew I couldn’t function as a human being if I couldn’t even step outside of my house. I decided the best way to get over my fear was to destroy it. I decided the best way to get over my fear of people was to be seen, and the best way to be seen is on television.

I knew that if I was on television, people would know my story. They wouldn’t see me as a joke. They would see me as a human, and not as a beast. So I contacted channel 3 in late June, and I told them I needed help. Within a few days, Chris contacted me and showed me the way to my freedom. About a month ago, Chris told me he was hesitant at first, because he needed to know if I was truly dedicated to a change in my lifestyle - and a change in the traditional 'eat less & exercise more attitude'. His approach was different, and he decided to give me a chance. I am so glad he did...because if he didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be here today. I never thought losing weight would be this easy. The hardest part was giving up my lifelong relationship with food - even though he lets me 'cheat' every other day.

I am now losing weight quicker than people who have undergone gastric bypass operation. My metabolism is higher than ever. The only thing I needed was willpower and commitment something I never had before. I still don’t believe how I got out that door the first time and started walking. At first, I couldn’t walk more than 500 feet without stopping, now I can walk miles without stopping. Here I was wasting away a body that I never gave a chance to. I thought to myself... if I had even a sliver of courage, I could accomplish anything including my freedom.


When I was on GMAZ in early February I was surprised with the make over I was to receive when I reached my goal weight. I was shocked because I still felt like I was six hundred pounds. I felt like I was a fraud why would anybody want to be nice to me -I didn’t deserve it. Doesn’t anyone see what I see in the mirror? People were coming up to me telling me that I looked so great, but I saw myself every day and I thought I looked the same. Chris kept reassuring me, so when I got home from channel 3, I watched my segment and I was amazed at what a difference it was from my first appearance. For the first time I saw myself as others have viewed me, I was not a fraud - it was real!


My darkness, my personal demon, suffered a devastating blow that day. It had tried to convince me that I was failing - but I was not. It knows that its days are numbered, It also knows that it is going to fail - not me. The darkness tries to keep me down but I am too strong to even give it the time of day. The darkness lived off my fear and sorrow, and now that fear and sorrow is no more. I have recently started to regain a life that I never thought possible.


I am no longer that scared little boy, but I am starting to become the confident man I knew that I could be. I have finally gotten my drivers license - seven months ago I couldn’t even fit in a cars front seat. I just recently received my GED and Chris helped get me my first job at the local Wal-Mart. I am not afraid of people anymore. I can walk with my head held high. I don’t care what people think of me. Some people know my story and some don’t - all that really matters is that I finally love myself. That is the one thing I never did was love myself. Once you love yourself, you can be anything you want to be. I can’t wait to experience the things that I have never experienced in my life. I want to experience a lot of things that are fun, adventurous, exciting, mysterious, and dangerous. I have only allowed myself to experience pain and suffering. The one thing that I am most excited about experiencing, is love. I have heard that the greatest feeling in life is to fall in love. I want to know how that feels. No matter how deep you dig yourself into a hole, you can always dig yourself out, I am proof of that. Nothing is impossible in this world - if you want it you just need to grab hold of it and never let go of your dreams...because some dreams if you work hard enough, really do come true.


This is an update on my life so far…I have now lost 401 pounds in 26 months - naturally. I used to be an animal, a creature, a beast. I have been called a lot of things lately, but none of the above in along time – it has all been positive for the first time in my life. I have actually overheard that I am kind of cute a couple of times, go figure considering what I used to be. I now have new eyes and a new smile, thanks to the kind doctors who have helped me. My scarlet letter, my skin is now gone. It feels like my life is finally ready to begin.


There is so much I haven't experienced in my life. It feels like I am the oldest person in the world to be a virgin, or never been on a date, or never had a first kiss. There is always that ‘what if’ in my mind…what if she laughs at me, what if she thinks that I am a freak, what if, what if, what if. All I can do now to null the pain is to take a little bit of love that is ahead of us and use it now, even though it doesn't exist yet. I know she is out there somewhere. I didn't change my life to die alone, I changed it for her. I changed it for us. I changed it for our children, and our children's children.

I think about my past and about my decision to ask for help. I was so lost, I felt like I had no other alternative but suicide. I now look at all these paths ahead of me, and I remember that one unlikely path I choose – to ask for help before I took my life. It was the greatest thing I have ever done. Chris is like a brother to me. He never gave up on me. He has not only saved my life, he has taught me a lot about this new world I am living in. We go out on the weekends, see movies, get a bite to eat, or just hang out. Our friendship has blossomed out of something so barren, that it is incredible how it has happened. We are two unlikely best friends - its so funny how life works. He made me feel like a human even when the outside world thought not.

Not only has my life changed, but I’ve inspired others as well…and hopefully many more to follow. It has been amazing watching the events of a path in the road that I would have never chosen. Chris always says that I changed his life more than he changed mine. Either way, we are going to be best friends forever.

I appreciate every breath I take, every sight I see, everything because it could be a lot different. It could be nothing, nonexistent. It feels good to have something I never thought I would. It feels good to be human.

-David Smith

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