Nathan Perry is the picture of health as he sits down to talk about powerlifting and the recent success he has enjoyed with his brother, Andrew.

Nathan tips the scales at 190 pounds, and recently won the deadlift competition at the Me vs. Me Anger on the Bar II event at Harrah’s Casino in Kansas City, where he lifted a mind-blowing 490 pounds.

But health was not a word associated with Nathan when he was a student at Grain Valley High School. He weighed 285 pounds and could barely bend over to tie his shoes, let alone pick up a piece of weightlifting equipment.

“I was concerned about my health, and so were members of my family,” said Nathan, an eighth grade history teacher at Grain Valley North Middle School. “I’m only 5-foot-7, and 285 pounds is just too much weight to carry.

“So I started running – well, I started walking, and then started running – and eating healthy and exercising and I got the weight off. I did it the right way – I never used a diet pill of any kind. I got the weight off, but I wanted to get my body in shape, so I looked into weightlifting.”

He met Brandon Cass, a local powerlifter who has enjoyed great success in international competition, “and we talked about weightlifting and I thought, ‘Why not give it a try?’”

That was last October.

Nathan and his brother Andrew, who never dealt with weight issues, began working out together – bonding, growing closer, and getting closer and closer to that moment when they could compete at their first event.

They each won their respective weight class deadlift event and are eager to see what the future holds.

“It’s been a great way to bond with Nathan and really become as close as we were back when we were in high school,” said Andrew, who is the manager of the Terra Health and Wellness Market in Independence. “We really look forward to working out together, and I’m so proud of him, for what he has done to get healthier. He was a big kid in high school and you could never tell that by looking at him now.”

While Nathan is the picture of health, he grins when asked about splurging at the dinner table.

“I have a date night with my wife Aubree, who teaches at Matthews Elementary in Grain Valley, but I don’t go crazy,” Nathan chuckled. “I could sit down and eat an entire pizza by myself, but I’m not going to do that.

“But one night a week, I eat something that I won’t even think about eating the rest of the week. You’re wrong if you think I’m never tempted, because I am. Food can be very addictive – it was for me when I was younger.

“Now it’s just mind over matter. I have two little girls (2 and 6 months old) and I want to be around for them for a long, long time. Faith has played a big role in my journey and it’s become much deeper as I get healthier and work out on a daily basis.”

His workouts usually begin at 4:30 a.m. at Blue Springs Fitness.

“I have to start early,” he said, “because I have to be at school at 7:15. I’ve grown to love working out. I feel better and it’s a lot cheaper than therapy.”