Hometown: Yorkville, IL
Weight Before: 265 lbs
Weight After: 165 lbs
Some men struggle to find a career after school. But that was never a problem for David Chacon. After graduation, the Illinois native, now 26, followed his father into business—and was an immediate success. But doing well came with a hefty price, literally. Between takeout meals and after-work happy hours, Chacon's weight skyrocketed. Although he'd fluctuated between 200 and 250 pounds for most of his life, in the summer of 2007 the six-foot real estate salesman hit 265 pounds.
Drained of energy, racked with back and knee pain, and reeking from his constant sweating, Chacon knew it was time to make a change. "I'd lived a lot of years just partying and up to no good," he says. "Businesswise, I had always done well, but internally I was a mess."
While he tried to change his habits, unreliable workout partners and a lack of willpower made the process harder than he'd ever imagined. Feeling lost, Chacon decided to pray for help from above. "One day, I just said, 'Okay, God, if you're out there, I need your help,'" he recalls. "'I need to get my life straight, and it's got to start with my health.'"
After that moment of epiphany, Chacon was overwhelmed with motivation he'd never felt before. "Inside, I finally felt like I had the strength and the endurance to keep on going."
To shed his weight, Chacon started lifting for 90 minutes in the mornings, with regular 45-minute cardio sessions afterward or at night. For meals, he adopted a high-protein plan, keeping his daily carb intake below 20 grams. "I would eat a lot of steak, a lot of chicken, and a lot of eggs," he says. In four months, he'd lost 55 pounds. To augment his training further, Chacon added 30 minutes of interval work before lifting, plus a minute of jumping rope between each set. He fi nished off his sessions with five sets of 10 burpees.
Slowly, Chacon worked carbs back onto his plate, starting with oatmeal at breakfast. For variety, he joined an MMA gym and traded his cardio for hour-long circuits, which included pounding a tractor tire with a sledgehammer, working two punching bags at once, and intense jump rope.
In a little more than a year, Chacon has lost 100 pounds, and he's still training hard. "For me, being fat was a disease comparable to alcoholism," he says. "Easing up for even three or four days would be like breaking down and taking a sip." That he keeps training, he says, is a testament to faith and its rewards.
"First, I just prayed, asking for strength," he says. "Now I just give thanks that I've been able to go this far. I don't want to ever give up on that."
David's Secret: Keep the Faith
"People are always coming up to me asking me what I'm training for. Most say they've never seen someone train so hard. I just tell them: 'I train in my faith, like I train in the gym.' That's a little saying I like to live by."