Bergenfield Police Officer Ahmed Alagha isn't quite ready to believe what he sees in the mirror.
Muscles. Curves. Fortitude.
His mind still registers something else.
Weakness. Rolls. The fat guy.
Alagha of North Haledon is down 100 pounds -- quite the accomplishment for someone who just three years ago got winded tying his shoes.
Maintaining his weight doesn't take nearly as much work as it did to take it off.
The hardest part now for Alagha is adjusting to his new self.
"It screws with my mind," said Alagha, 34.
"I still see the fat person I was for the majority of my life."
He vows, though, he'll never go back.
Despite his lifelong passion for playing sports, Alagha was overweight for most of his life.
He worked as a local dispatcher until he was 27, when he became a police officer.
Things took a turn for the worst.
"Every year I would gain 15 or 20 pounds," he said. "I would eat when I was mad, I would eat when I was happy."
Three years ago, Alagha was at his heaviest -- 315 pounds.
Everything was difficult.
Walking. Breathing. Sleeping.
He had obstructive sleep apnea, and needed a machine to help him at night. He had a fatty liver, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
His family has a history of diabetes and cancer.
Sometime in 2015, it clicked.
Alagha feared that if he didn't lose weight, he was going to die.
In January 2016, the officer had weight loss surgery -- a vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
Seven weeks into recovery, he was cleared for exercise.
That's when the work began.
"I just started running and running," Alagha told Daily Voice, holding the gallon of water that he drinks from throughout the day.
"Then a friend put it in my head -- he said it's good that I wanted to run, but not to forget about lifting.
"And it took off. It became an addiction to me."
Alagha began preparing his meals and weighing food to bring into work.
Sometimes, he has no choice but to eat his meals cold in his patrol car.
"It's the same boring thing every time," he said. "But it's fuel."
Restoring his relationship with food has been a major part of Alagha's journey.
Although it used to be an emotional crutch, food now keeps him going all day long, until it's time to hit the gym, whether it's at 4:30 a.m. or 7:30 p.m., after a 12-hour shift.
Aside from reclaiming his health, Alagha wanted to lose weight to set a positive example for local kids and both of his own, 7 and 2.
"I want to influence them positively," said Alagha, a D.A.R.E. officer and youth academy instructor.
"The reasons I became a police officer is became of my D.A.R.E. officer years ago. "If I can reach one kid, then I've done my job."
Alagha's dream is to open a gym of his own where he can connect with more people who share the same passion.
He says getting in shape was the best choice he's ever made.
Even though it's all still setting in.
"It's weird hearing myself say that," he said. "Who knew that I would be interviewed because I'm in shape?"
The guy Alagha used to be will always linger on his mind.
He does his best not to let the past haunt him, even though It's what keeps him going.
"I'll make sure I'll never be the person I was a couple years ago."
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