Weight Before: 278
Weight After: 180
Vitals: Tyler Butts, 31, Frontenac, KS
Time Required to Reach Goal: 10 months
Lesson Learned: You're much stronger than you think you are.
Secret Weapon: Instead of aiming for a weight, rate your success by how fit you feel.
The Gain Playing high-school golf kept Butts in decent shape. But after high school, his athletic activities ebbed and the flab started piling on—78 pounds in 5 years. "I just wasn't paying attention to how much I was eating," he says.
The Change Butts's wake-up call came while he was scuba diving on vacation. "I was struggling against the current just to get myself up into the boat," he says. "I realized I wasn't living the life I wanted." He also realized he couldn't go from volunteer to full-time firefighter unless he shaped up. He hired a personal trainer.
The Lifestyle Butts now hits the gym 5 days a week for an hour—30 minutes each of cardio and weight training. When the weather's nice, he runs outdoors. As a firefighter, he says, excuses are hard to come by. "You always have to be physically ready for the call, because the gear adds about 50 pounds to your frame." He's added plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to his diet, but the biggest change is eating smaller portions.
The Reward Besides landing him his dream job, Butts's routine has made him stronger both physically and mentally. "When I started, I didn't know I would find this inner strength, and it's really helped push me along," he says. "I've become more confident in every area of my life."
Leave the gym. Running nowhere on a treadmill can sap your motivation. A brisk run in the cool fall air won't even feel like a workout.
Trick yourself. Portion snacks into smaller bags so you're less likely to end up elbow deep in an economy-size bag of Lay's.
Buy incentive. Having a personal trainer makes it tough to skip workouts, because someone is expecting you and you've already paid. Too pricey? Get a discount with a friend.