In 2005, University of Arizona student Sean Mahoney clocked in at about 170 pounds. “I was in peak condition,” he says. But post-graduation, real life—marriage, a new job—hit hard. “The work was stressful, so I fought that with food,” he says. Paid company lunches didn’t help, either. He even slacked off at home: “Instead of cooking healthy, my wife and I ordered out because it was easy.” Four years out of school, Mahoney had gained almost 100 pounds. “I remember looking at the scale and thinking, ‘How did I do this to myself?’ ” It was time to get to work.
Home: Chandler, AZ
Starting weight: 265 lb
Current weight: 173 lb
Total pounds lost: 93 lb
Starting body fat: 48%
Current body fat: 16%
Men's Fitness: Realizing you’d gained so much weight must’ve been a rude awakening.
It was—that, and going to buy new pants and seeing the waist size above 42.
What’s the first step you took to fix that?
I joined a gym, one I actually wanted to go to. Seeing that money go out of my account each month, I’d tell myself, “Man, I’d better go!”
Was it tough to get back into it?
Exercise had become nonexistent in my life. Except for some softball once or twice a week, I hadn’t worked out since 2005. So, yes, I had to start out slow.
What were your workouts like?
I’d walk on the treadmill, then to challenge myself more I added body-resistance workouts using the TRX and kettlebells.
What was the most trying part?
The cardio. Unless I’m playing basketball or football, it’s not something I really enjoy.
Do you work with a trainer?
Every two or three months I get a training session to learn a new routine, then I use that to create my own workouts.
How did you change your diet?
I stopped using my FryDaddy to make wings and fries. And I cut out diet soda—aspartame really slows weight loss—and foods with high-fructose corn syrup. I also started grocery shopping and cooking. Plus, I began hardcore calorie counting; that made a huge difference. I had to figure out how to spend the calories on foods that’d keep me full and fuel me with energy like good proteins and fats.
Any cheat days?
On weekends [my wife and I] go out and have a beer or two, and I don’t worry. We split a burger or pizza, but it’s quantity controlled.
Any newfound favorite foods?
Grass-fed bison. I substitute it for beef. You can’t tell the difference, but it has fewer calories, lots of protein, fats that are better for your heart, and vitamin B12 and iron. It makes you feel like you’re not on a restricted diet, which is why I love it.
How has your life changed since you started on this journey?
I don’t go out to lunch or out after work—I go to the gym. But it’s worth it, because on the weekends I feel free.
What’s been the best part of all of this?
My wife and I were cleaning out a closet and found my Little League T-shirt. I put it on, and it fit!
Do you deserve to be a Men’s Fitness Success Story? If so, send before and after photos and your name, e-mail, and telephone number to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.