"I'd been trying to lose the weight since I was about 12, and I'd done it all really. I was almost 250-300 pounds in junior high. Then, when I graduated high school, I was 400. I was even dieting then, it just wasn't working out for me,” said Rose.
I was looking into getting the surgery, and I'd been to the meetings and all that mess. I was going to have to lose a percentage of my weight to get the surgery.
"At my weight, you have to lose a percentage, so I was going to have to lose 100 pounds to even get the surgery. I thought, ‘if I could do that, I don't need the surgery.'
Rose says he weighed 601 pounds on Independence Day, when he began a new weight-loss program he found out about from the Facebook page of his childhood hero, wrestler Hulk Hogan.
"Because I found out about it from Hulk Hogan, I'm part of 'Team Hogan', and I've gotten to meet him twice now. He was my childhood everything. Pretty much anyone from the Academy Awards could walk in here, and I'd just ask them for something to drink. I really don't care, but I've been watching Hulk since I was itty bitty.”
He says the program, based around a 90-day challenge, taught him how to eat healthy.
"You pretty much replace two meals a day with the shake and take the vitamins and try to eat healthy,” he said.
"People my size have no clue how to eat. We're used to eating pizza, and cheeseburgers, and bologna, and cookies. You try to get us to eat right, and that's wonderful. But it's too much all at once.
"It's hard, it's too much all at once, and a lot of information is false.
“I guess one of the highlights of this is it takes two meals completely out of my hands while I focus on eating that third meal correctly. Now, I could just stop, and now I know how to eat right. It took the learning curve down because I didn't have to learn to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner right. I just had to focus on dinner.
“It's trial and error at first. It's not just calories, and you can't just take the label for something that says 'low-calorie' or 'low-carb'. A lot of that is set out to trick you.
"You've got to learn when you go grocery shopping to stay on the outside row. Don't go in the aisles because that's just a disaster. If it's processed or frozen, it's probably not what it says it is.”
Rose says it wasn’t just enough to learn how to eat right but remembering what motivated him to start in the first place.
"People get into such a hurry to lose weight that they get irritable. They try to do too much, too fast, too hard and they take in too much of this false information and take this unhealthy stuff. A lot of it is just trying to avoid that. You take it in strides. If you're addicted to soda, don't just try to quit because your brain will split.
"The hardest part is just remembering that you're doing it for a reason. I remember someone saying, 'Do you want a Happy Meal or a happy life?' Eating pizza and barbeque wings might make me smile for two or three minutes, but being able to do that at a normal weight will make me smile for an hour so I'm just kind of waiting.
"No one does it just to be pretty. There's a reason. I told a friend of mine that, if you have to write it down on your wall to remember, ruin your wall. Every time you walk by, you'll remember why you started because you ruined your wall for it. Then, when you're done, paint your house. A lot of people get discouraged and forget why they started.”
Since losing the weight, Rose says he is trying to be more outgoing and get out of the same mindset he had before losing the weight.
“When you're that heavy, life isn't life,” said Rose. “People keep telling me that I'm getting my life back, but I tell them I never had one.”
Rose says he wants to go out and do more things with his wife of 10 years, Kara Beth, who has been in Afghanistan since Jan. 2011.
He says she has been gone since he began losing the weight but should be home early next month.
"I'm excited to actually go out and do things with her now,” he said.
"I never thought this would have made a big change in my personality. I always thought being fat was a body thing. I never would have thought it was an everything, but it really is an everything.”
To find out more about how Rose lost his weight, visit www.ericschallenge.com, but remember to check with your health care provider before beginning any weight loss program.