Hometown: Gloucester, MA
Weight Before: 508 lbs
Weight After: 215 lbs
Millions of Americans are addicted to food, whether they know it or not. Duncan Ryan, 42, used to be one of them. After getting married and becoming a father for the second time in ’02, he grew sedentary and began gaining about 20 pounds a year.
As he quickly learned, being fat sucks. Five-year-olds at Walmart commented on his size. Size 6X T-shirts barely covered his gut. And on a cruise with his wife, Kristin, Ryan could barely wedge himself into his cabin. He spent most of the trip at the buffet. “I was literally touching both sides of the shower,” he says. “It was out of control.”
So was his health. Ryan’s sleep apnea was so bad, it woke him up every 20 minutes. “I was exhausted all the time,” he says, “even though I wasn’t doing anything.”
In January ’09, chest pains landed Ryan in the hospital. He was suffering from double pneumonia, and nurses struggled to find a strong enough bed for him.
Doctors said that if he could lose 150 pounds, gastric bypass might be an option. His wife had other ideas. “She said, ‘If you can lose 150 pounds, you can lose the rest,’” he remembers. But a lot had to change first.
He started with his diet. Grudgingly, Ryan joined Weight Watchers and said goodbye to his twice-a-day McDonald’s habit, along with the bags of candy he had stashed all over his house.
Next, he joined a local YMCA, but he was winded just walking to the building. At first, he could do only two minutes of slow walking on a treadmill before he had to sit down. “But the next day, I did four minutes, and the next thing you know I was running.”
By the end of the year, Ryan was down to 188 pounds—a remarkable transformation in such a short amount of time. But he still wasn’t happy with his results. “I didn’t think I looked good,” he says. “I was gaunt and soft.”
That epiphany is what led Ryan to the world of weight training. “Everything finally clicked for me,” he says. The former fat man adjusted his diet to support his new workouts and began packing on 30 pounds of pure muscle. Today, at 215 pounds, he takes great pride in the fact that he looks as good as he feels.
Despite all his hard work, Ryan says the change is really all thanks to his wife. “She’s fantastic,” he says. “I could never have done it without her.” For her part, Kristin says she didn’t have a choice. “It wasn’t a matter of sticking by him,” she says. “He’s the man I love. It was the right thing to do.”
DUNCAN'S TIP: DITCH THE B.S.
“Never let anybody tell you what you can’t do,” he says. “I had a million people tell me, ‘There’s no way you can do this.’ But no goal is unattainable.”