Adam Goldstein

Nicole Richie's Thin Man

UPDATED 06/13/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/13/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

Adam Goldstein is on something of a roll. He's one of the hottest deejays in Hollywood, where celeb clients like Madonna and Brad Pitt know him as DJ AM. Earlier this year he became engaged to his girlfriend of two years, Nicole Richie. And he is also proud of the fact that he's half the man he used to be. Almost literally.

Two years ago, Goldstein, 32, weighed 324 lbs. Now, after undergoing gastric bypass surgery in '03, he tops out at 169. Goldstein realized he needed a drastic change after spending countless nights abusing drugs and days on eating binges. "For a year I couldn't look at myself in the mirror," he says. "I was ashamed. It was too painful to see what I looked like."

Chubby as a kid, Goldstein had struggled with depression and drug problems since he was 12. By 16 he was using marijuana regularly. "Drugs became my identity," he says. In 1990 he checked into an Orange County rehab center—but when he quit treatment two years later he soon discovered Ecstacy and cocaine on the late-night rave scene. "That brought me to my knees really fast," he says. "I would deejay until 2 a.m., go get drugs and stay up until 10 in the morning doing drugs alone in my apartment. When they were all gone, I would take a whole bottle of Tylenol PM to go to sleep. Then I would wake up and eat like a beast. I was the only fat crackhead in L.A."

He binged on fast food, daily cheeseburgers, fries and ice cream. "I watched the movie Super Size Me, and I was like, 'I used to be this dude,'" Goldstein says. He quickly packed on the pounds. By his early 20s, he was working his way up to 300 lbs.

His turning point came, he says, when he considered suicide in 1997. One night, after his usual dose of cocaine, Goldstein, 24 at the time, caught a glimpse of himself in the bathroom mirror. "I literally could not move away from staring at myself," he recalls. "I heard this voice saying, 'Who are you?'" He grabbed a gun he had in his apartment and put it to his mouth. "I sat back, my hand was on the way down, and I just stopped," he says. "My whole life flashed in front of me, and I knew this was not my destiny. I started bawling my eyes out. I was like, 'God, please help me.'"

That night, he says, he vowed to get off drugs and lose weight. Now sober for seven years, he says that, for him, slimming down was harder than staying clean. Goldstein went on a string of diets but "tried and failed, went up and down," he says. "I finally said, I can't do this anymore.' " Just after his 30th birthday he decided to have gastric bypass surgery. "I was terrified," he says. "But I was like, I have to do it." At first Goldstein was limited to a diet of protein shakes and broth. His friends had to carry his records to gigs for him because his stomach muscles were so sore. But the weight started coming off. "A year later," he says, "I was a different person."

He's now 155 lbs. lighter. "People don't even recognize me," he says. "They see me and are in shock." He eats six small meals a day-often chicken or steak-and has learned to limit his portions and "chew until everything is liquid." Though his work schedule prevents him from exercising regularly, he "can now go up three flights of stairs without getting winded," he says.

That makes his fiancée happy. "I am so proud of Adam for everything he has accomplished," says Richie, 23, who started dating Goldstein a month before his surgery. "He's always been an amazing, sexy person, no matter what his size." Though Richie has recently dropped some weight as well, the two "don't really watch each other's diets," says Goldstein. Instead, they enjoy meals at high-end restaurants and take long walks together. In November they moved into a house in the Hollywood Hills with their dogs Honey Child and Foxy Cleopatra and kitten Shalom. Next summer they plan to wed. "I absolutely want to start a family with her," he says. "Nicole is one of the funniest people I know—she's my best friend." One more thing Goldstein says he has come to appreciate: the guy in the mirror. "I look at myself every day," he says. "I love it."

Marisa Wong; Kwala Mandel in Los Angeles

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