Paul Walter Hauser Shares Weight Loss Transformation Story

This story is part of our ongoing “First Steps” series, where we share extraordinary stories of men who transformed their bodies, minds, and lives with a focus on the first steps it took them to get there (because, after all, nothing can change without a first step!). Read all of the stories here. Below, actor Paul Walter Hauser shares his journey, in his own words, to losing 70 pounds and transforming his health. I GOT MY first film role in 2009 at 23 years old. Shortly after, I contracted gout: a painful arthritic disease that attacks the joints, and is brought on by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. I weighed 330 pounds at the time, and I was very much addicted to food, marijuana, and alcohol. Whether I was celebrating, or bored, or trying to mask pain, eating or using was always the answer. As my acting career began to take off in my late 20s, I resolved to lose weight and started what I thought of as “common sense eating.” If I got pizza, I wouldn’t eat the entire thing. Just by reducing portion sizes and making small changes like that, I was able to get down to 275 pounds. After losing that first 55 pounds and getting out of the 300s, I got really excited. I thought, I can really do this, this is the next step. I joined a fancy gym, and was on my way towards the low 200s.Then, in 2016 I booked the movie I, Tonya with Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan. I was playing a real guy, and this real guy was massive—over 300 pounds. So I put about 30 pounds back on for the film, which was incredibly disheartening because I’d undone all those months of work. When I, Tonya wrapped, I started working out again at Orangetheory and eating smarter, and the weight started to come back off, until I booked Richard Jewell, in which I was once again playing a real person who was quite hefty. The first thing Clint Eastwood said to me when I walked into his office at Warner Bros. was, “It’s time to pick up the donuts.” I was stuck in this frustrating loop, where I was trying so hard to keep the weight off, but then I was booking these amazing projects where I played these kinds of characters.Hauser with Emma Roberts on the set of Virginia (2010).Courtesy of Paul Walter HauserMy first gig where I was required to lose weight was the TV show Black Bird, with Taron Egerton, where I played real-life serial killer Larry Hall. When I shot that series in New Orleans in 2021, I was physically about as healthy as I had been in years, but I was deeply depressed, and still abusing alcohol and marijuana. I’d feel OK from day to day, but then I’d find myself making mezcal margaritas at two in the afternoon out of boredom when I wasn’t on set. When I was drinking, it opened up a door to some darker thoughts and suicidal ideation. I scared myself. So midway through filming Black Bird, I quit drinking.It took me a little while to realize, though, that being “California sober” wasn’t going to cut it. I was approaching 90 days of sobriety when I owned up to my sober buddies that I had still been using marijuana, and I was going to stop. I started my day count over on October 26, 2021. Looking back, this was the step that made my subsequent weight loss and fitness journey possible. Because while I felt strong, doing yoga every day and shooting hoops and eating well, I didn’t feel healthy in my heart or my mind until I got sober. I liked Paul the actor, but I didn’t have a good relationship with myself as a human being. Simply by not being in an altered state all the time, I was able to get in touch with the real me. And I started to think, oh, I can love this person. This is a different guy. He isn’t destructive or mean-spirited. I need to be this guy if I’m going to still be around in 10 years. “My clothes FIT BETTER and I feel undeniably STRONGER, but the most REWARDING and FUN part of this entire process has been being able to keep up with my CHILDREN, and be the best FATHER, the best HUSBAND, and the best ACTOR I can be.”I’ve taken a lot of first steps to lose weight and get fitter, then had several setbacks and had to start over. A small practical ritual that I found really helped me stay on track was keeping a journal of good decisions. Every day, I set a goal of making 10 good little decisions that would amount to a greater win for myself, and log them in the Notes app on my phone. For example, if I went to a lunch meeting and chose iced water instead of Diet Coke, or if I was offered a donut and said no. All these little things add up to something greater. I think the hardest part when we’re tired or sad is that we feel entitled to some form of elation or relaxation, be that in food or drugs. You kind of have to parent yourself at those times. That’s not to say holding myself accountable hasn’t been challenging. So my approach has been to make it as fun for myself as possible. I’m friendly with Mark Wahlberg, and he’s famous for getting up at an unconscionable hour. It used to be 2:30 a.m., now it’s more like 5 a.m. So I chose 4:44 a.m. to poke fun at him, as if to say “Hey, look, I’m doing one better,” and started posting my early-morning workouts on Instagram with the hashtag #444club. The funny thing is I ended up really enjoying it, and the #444club caught on with some of my followers who have started doing the same thing. Walter Hauser in September 2023. “Those moments where you see incremental progress and you know how hard you’ve worked for it are really meaningful,” he says.Courtesy of Paul Walter HauserRight now, I’m down to around 260 pounds. My clothes fit better and I feel undeniably stronger, but the most rewarding and fun part of this entire process has been being able to keep up with my children, and be the best father, the best husband, and the best actor I can be. I have two small boys, and I live for the mornings where I can make sure that the house is clean and the kids are fed and I’ve taken them outside for some physical activity, all before my wife and I start our day. I’m now the kind of person who has the energy to show up for others, and I want to keep on being that guy. I’m planning to lose 40 to 50 pounds in the next year or so. Maybe that will open me up to different kinds of roles, and I won’t have to keep specifically playing these big guys. I’m not turning back this time. My health is here to stay.Philip Ellis is News Editor at Men’s Health, covering fitness, pop culture, sex and relationships, and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV, and he is the author of Love & Other Scams.

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