Dalton’s Weight Loss Journey: From Death’s Door to Fitness Champion

Dalton Musslewhite, weight loss surgery patient, before surgery and after surgery photos showing differences in body

Dalton Musslewhite vacationed in New Orleans in 2018. He planned to walk around and explore the city, but at over 500 pounds he quickly became out of breath and tired. During the trip, he called for a car service repeatedly for each new stop he made, including distances of 1/10 of a mile. After hurtful comments from his driver and $180 in car service fees, Dalton returned home and decided it was time to change.

Patient Dalton before surgery, at nearly 500 pounds

“My health was getting worse, so I visited my doctor,” Dalton said. “I had sleep apnea. I had even fallen asleep while driving. He told me that if I didn’t change my habits, I would likely not live past age 30.” Dalton was only 24 at the time.

After visiting various clinics, Dalton found his place at the Baptist Weight Loss Center. He met with the team to discuss the right path for his health.

“Baptist was my saving grace,” Dalton said. “I decided to have the sleeve gastrectomy surgery on April 8, 2019. Before the surgery, I had to follow a meal plan, lose some weight, and be sure my insurance approved the surgery. But when those things happened, I told myself, ‘This is it. This is your last shot. If you don’t make it this time, you won’t make it. I took it seriously and committed to it. The Baptist team was kind, encouraging, and welcoming at each visit as I went through the process. I felt I had the right people in my corner to support me.”   

Dalton documented his journey so he could track his progress and be accountable. Later, he shared his weight loss publicly on social media. The encouragement and support he received further ignited his inspiration. Now, health and fitness are his passions, and he’s gained over 160,000 followers on Instagram, @msslwht.

“I didn’t initially plan on turning to social media to share my weight loss. I was doing it for me, as I was in awe of myself for finally taking control of my health. I was finally undoing 24 years of poor eating and social habits. My numbers going down and the photos of my body changing became a positive addiction that later led me to empowerment, and then that transferred into energy for working out and putting my body to strength and good use.”

Dalton admits that he had to shift his mindset to be successful. He also had to let go of his former self to move forward.

“I had to apply what I knew would help me,” Dalton said. “Or I’d slip back into poor habits and gain it back, and I didn’t want to do that.”

The little things many people often take for granted brought Dalton the most joy after surgery. 

Dalton after weight loss, in the same clothes as pre-surgery shown very loose on him

“I no longer had to worry if I would fit into a restaurant booth or if a chair would hold me,” Dalton said. “I previously had to custom buy plus-size furniture. Like almost everyone else, I could now purchase what I needed at stores. And I’ll never forget walking into Dillard’s department store and fitting into something off the rack for the first time. That was an emotional moment to experience that in my late 20s.”

Dalton found joy in exercise and fitness two years after surgery and after losing 220 pounds. He experienced the rush of endorphins during and after working out.

“I started doing treadmill walking,” Dalton said. “I also did jumping jacks and other activities in my yard and around my house. I liked how I felt. Then, I watched a friend who also had weight loss surgery compete in weightlifting. That inspired me and made me want to try it. I began by setting small goals and just bettering myself. I decided to compete after building muscle and becoming leaner. I competed in April of 2022. By then, I was down 370 pounds. In June, I won a fitness competition.”

Now, at age 30, which doctors didn’t think he’d live to see, Dalton is a full-time fitness coach motivated to help others. He began his own company, Mssl Fitness, and he is helping clients achieve their own health and fitness goals. He’s giving back and reigniting his own passion for well-being. Dalton offers advice to anyone considering weight loss surgery or changing lifestyle habits.

Dalton is pictured most recently in casual clothing, fit and muscular

“It’s never too late to change your life, no matter how far off you feel you have strayed,” Dalton said. “You can be staring at death’s door but still overcome it. Just start. Take the first step. I felt lost and had no hope. But I went to my doctor and said I needed help. I took the first step, and now I’m helping others.”

Dalton shared his story to let others know they are not alone. He says to call the Baptist Weight Loss Center as part of that first step. After that, reach out to him for a friendly person who’s been there. In addition, Baptist offers ongoing monthly weight-loss support groups.