NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — We’ve all been there — you lose a little weight only to gain it right back.

It’s a vicious cycle that led one of New York’s finest to pack on more than 200 pounds.

After an actual nightmare inspired him to make some changes, he now wants his story to do the same for others.

Aaron Lohman says he had always been overweight, but he never knew how much he actually weighed because he just didn’t want to know.

“425 pounds is as high as my scale went,” he said. “Half the reason I gained all the weight is that I was so focused on… catching the bad guys… and trying to help people that I wasn’t helping myself.”

It all changed when the 33-year-old NYPD Anti-Crime Unit officer woke up in a cold sweat one night three years ago.

“I had a nightmare,” he said. “I was in a life or death struggle on a rooftop.”

Too unfit to fend for himself, Aaron says he dreamt he plummeted to his death.

“I just thought about my daughter,” Aaron said, fighting back tears. “I have to watch my daughter… have her sweet 16 without me, get married without me.”

It was the wake up call he says he so desperately needed.

“I am not going to let this be who I am anymore, blame my family, blame genetics,” Lohman said.

In his three-year journey, Aaron has lost a total of 148 pounds. So this begs the question… just how did he do it?

“I didn’t have the money to hire a trainer, a nutritionist,” he said. “I did the only thing I really knew how to do.”

Aaron began to place the same amount of importance on himself as he did with others. After researching recipes, he learned how to cook.

“I prep all my meals for the week,” he said. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

He also started exercising. It was a struggle at first, but with the support of his thousands of followers on Instagram, he kept motivated — and not only to lose weight.

“This has opened my mind to infinite possibilities,” Aaron said.

Now the father of two, the recently promoted lieutenant is setting his sights on helping others get healthy.

“The first thing… don’t set a number in your head of how much weight you want to lose,” Aaron said. “The second thing is don’t do too much cardio.”

His most important piece of advice?

“If you mess up, just keep going,” Aaron said.

But what about the folks who think there’s no way they can do what he did?

“They can,” he said. “You just got to keep pushing and never give up.”

There are no physical requirements to stay on the police force, but Aaron is one of a handful of cops encouraging fellow officers to slim down and get healthier.

Below are just a few of Aaron’s favorite recipes that have helped him get back on track:

Turkey Meatballs:

1.5 lbs lean ground turkey.

1 egg

1/4 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 large 28 Oz can of crushed tomatoes

1 tsp of Italian seasoning or oregano

-Mix turkey, egg, cheese, breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp garlic roll into med sized meatballs. (Set aside)

-Put into a sauce pot crushed tomatoes, 1tbsp garlic, Italian seasoning.

-Put sauce on medium heat, add meatballs, cover and cook for 35 minutes.

-Serve with rice or Ronzoni 150 pasta.

 

Picadillo:

2 1/2 lbs 93% lean ground turkey

1 14 Oz can of Diced Tomatoes

8 oz can tomato sauce

1/4 cup alcaparrado or Spanish olives.

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

2 bay leaves

kosher salt and fresh pepper, to taste

-Brown ground turkey in a medium sized pot.

-After browned add all seasonings, bay leaves, olives/alcaparrado, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce.

-Simmer on low for 30 minutes.

-Cook and serve with rice or by itself.

 

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken:

5 lbs chicken breast

1 Taco seasoning packet

1 Jar of salsa

2 tsp of adobo

-Place chicken into slowcooker, pour all ingredients on top, cook on low for 4-5 hours,

-Shred with fork

-Serve by itself or over rice.

 

Spicy Sriracha Pineapple Slowcooker Chicken:

5 lbs chicken breast

1 – 20 ounce can of diced pineapple in juice

1/4 cup of Sriracha

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp minced garlic

-Place chicken in slowcooker, pour all ingredients into chicken, cook on low 4-5 hours, shred with fork

-Serve over rice