My name is Justin Root. Most of my friends just call me Root.

I was born a bit chunky, weighing in at 10 pounds 4 ounces, and the chunkiness continued after I took one bite of food and discovered a serious love for eating.

By 5th grade, I was teased for having “boobs.” Bullies – who’s asses I was too nice to kick back then – would ask where my bra was. Not great for my self-esteem.

But by high school, I figured out the benefits of my size. I started playing football. I started boxing.  All the teasing just happened to stop.

My mom is a fantastic cook, so when I got to college, I missed the quality of food my mom prepared on a daily basis. I found myself studying cooking as much as studying for my classes. My love for food found a new dimension.

After college, my passion for food brought me to New Orleans. One of the best cities in the world for eating and drinking. I worked in hospitality PR, which meant dining at the best restaurants in the country with some of the most esteemed food journalists in the business. I learned a ton about food and booze – mostly by consuming it all in large portions.

In my mid twenties, I went for a physical for the first time since college. The doctor took my blood pressure 3 times. Then he started explaining the different options for blood pressure medications.

I was stunned.

In hindsight, it was obvious. I could feel my heartbeat in my temples after walking up a flight of stairs. But in that moment, I didn’t get it.

I asked why he was talking about these medications. He looked at me like I was an idiot. He proceeded to tell me I had high blood pressure, and I needed medication to control my hypertension.

Sitting in that doctor’s office I felt overwhelmed with shame. I was devastated that I’d let my weight get out of control – so out of control that there was a measurable side effect on my health.

I asked him if I would need to take the medication for the rest of my life. He said that’s what happens to most people. I said, “there’s got to be another solution.” He said, “well, if you lose weight, you’re blood pressure will go down, but 9 out of 10 patients say they’ll lose weight, and they come back a month later for a prescription.”

I told him I’d lose weight. A month later, I came back 10 pounds lighter. He was delighted. I was still scared.

I used a lot of starving and exercising tricks to shed the pounds. I knew these tricks would eventually fail. I would eventually go back to shoveling fast food in my mouth at lunch, snacking from vending machine candy all afternoon and cooking glutinous dinners at night.

I just didn’t know what else to do. I thought I knew a lot about food, but really, I only knew about flavor. I still had a lot to learn about food, and the relationship between what is in our food and how it affects our bodies.

Over the last 6 years, I’ve spent the majority of my time learning what is behind the flavors of our food and what happens when eat. I started with basic nutrition, and the journey unraveled from there in unexpected ways.

I’ve lost more than 50 pounds, and now, I want to help other people on their wellness journey.

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