Hometown: Kansas City, Mo.
Weight Before: 297 lbs
Weight After: 172 lbs
Growing up, Kirk Myers lived with the nickname "Chunk." The shy teen was nearly 300 pounds, had few friends, and spent most of his free time alone in his bedroom. He did use his size to earn a place on the high school football team—but he still never really fit in, struggling to keep up with his teammates in games and practices. "I would always throw up," Myers remembers. "After we finished a game, I'd lie down and pretty much pass out."
But the emotional toll he was suffering may have been even worse than the physical one. "I was unhappy a lot," he says. "I didn't feel good about myself."
Myers turned to high-calorie junk food in an attempt to improve his mood. In addition to regular fast-food runs and a steady supply of cookies and candy bars, he had a serious taste for chocolate milk, pounding up to two gallons every day.
Those bad habits followed Myers to college at the University of of Missouri, and they might have done him in were it not for a medical scare during his sophomore year. Convinced his lethargy and lack of energy was the result of mononucleosis, his stepmother drove him to the local ER. "The doctors did a chest X-ray and saw my heart was enlarged," Myers says. He was told he had congestive heart failure and was immediately sent to the ICU, He was 21.
It took nine prescriptions and two years of hard work, but Myers slowly changed his lifestyle. Junk food was the first to go; doctors ordered him to load up on green vegetables and avoid sodium and extra sugars. He began with oatmeal and almonds for breakfast, and introduced eggs, chicken, spinach, and protein shakes into his daily meals.
Along with his new diet came new energy, so Myers started taking daily walks. He was soon in the gym, where he worked two body parts a day, four days a week. Each workout included an hour on the treadmill at a low speed and high incline. "As I got in better shape, I gained confidence and pushed harder."
A decade later, Myers has lost 125 pounds and kept it off. He's earned a degree, moved to NYC, and—having learned so much from his own experience with getting fit—became a personal trainer. (One of his first clients was a man whom he helped to lose 85 pounds in six months.) At 172 pounds, Myers is also proud to be in the best shape of his life. "I'm the happiest and healthiest I've ever been," he says. "I'm truly living my dream."
Kirk's Tip: Never Give Up
"It's all about preparation. I didn't leave myself many options in the fridge, so if I wanted a candy bar, I had to get up and go to the store to get it. Instead, I always have good food around me, whether it's at work, at school, in the gym or wherever."