STONY POINT, N.Y. -- Rocky Alexander, who at his highest, weighed 363 pounds, said at one point in his life, he was ready to die.
A longtime dieter who had tried every plan out there, yo-yo-ing in the process, said nothing stuck. All of which got harder as he got older, as well as more complicated as he had to deal with serious health issues including Type II diabetes and borderline high blood pressure.
"A funny thing happens when your doctor tells you you'll likely die because of being severely overweight," said the Stony Point resident. "All of a sudden you want to live."
The owner/operator of a mobile DJ company called Push Entertainment and a deacon at Fairmont Baptist Church, the father of two is now 220 pounds and living a healthy life, thanks in part to bariatric surgery, which he had two years ago.
A longtime cook, he started a Facebook page six years ago called Rock's Kitchen and now has close to 20,000 followers, many of whom have followed his weight loss journey and his foray into healthier cooking. The group has become a support group for those, like him, who have undergone surgery and are looking to change their ways.
Alexander likes to tell the story of how his nutritionist told him post-surgery about sticking to fish, chicken and turkey. "She told me, 'Don't fry them,'" he said. "Well that's what I did 99 percent of the time, so I ended up going home and looking up healthy recipes. What I found was that many things that were labeled 'healthy' were not. So, I began converting some of the bad carbs into things that I could eat and not worry about."
Those lessons translated into a huge following as well as countless motivational speeches around the world.
The mission of Rock's Kitchen is to erase the stigma attached to weight loss surgery and to help educate those who are unaware of the procedure. He also walks fellow patients through the process, assisting with questions and tips on how to be successful.
"The stigma from people is that you're taking the easy way out," stressed Alexander. "Or that you are cheating. Well, the only thing I cheated was death. And this is far from easy. I work harder today than I have on any diet I've ever been on."
Go to Rock's Kitchen for more information.