Hometown: Ottumwa, Iowa
Weight Before: 525 Pounds
Weight After: 215 Pounds
Duration: 18 Months
“I’m at the gym seven days a week. I do not take days off,” says the 31-year-old Michael Shilkus of Ottumwa, IA. That feat is even more amazing when you’re holding down four jobs and taking care of your grandparents at home.
It’s not easy, but he does it. This wasn’t always the case. Five years ago he was walking around at close to 500 pounds and couldn’t find a scale that would read his actual weight. “When I went to the doctor, I had to stand on two separate scales to watch the nurse write down ‘300 pounds-plus,’” Shilkus says, “I think I was embarrassed to admit I had a problem.”
Shilkus’ meat and potatoes diet and sedentary lifestyle were to blame for his massive size. He’d regularly down pounds of french fries, fried chicken, and tacos at every meal, washing it down with soda. “I would go to Taco Johns and get a six-pack and a pound, which is six tacos and a pound of potato oles [tater tots], and you have nacho cheese to dip them in,” Shilkus explains. It was a chance restaurant encounter that became the catalyst for change. “My wife and I were eating, and a couple walked in with their daughter, who was really overweight. We looked at each other and said, ‘If we have kids, we don’t want
them to look like that,’” Shilkus recalls. “Then we realized we were larger than the parents. We both decided it was time to lose weight.”
Shilkus immediately eliminated fried food from his diet, cut his portions in half, and began grilling everything he could. The simple changes helped him drop 60 pounds in the first month alone. His next step was walking for 25 minutes on the treadmill a few days each week. The weight kept melting off. After 18 months, Shilkus was down to 193 pounds.
He altered his routine every six to eight weeks and saw the muscle begin to pile on. Today, five years later, Shilkus weighs 215 pounds, and his improved posture has even given him an extra inch. The way he lives has improved, as well. “When I was bigger I was like a hermit,” Shilkus says. “My life consisted of four walls, a TV set, and a computer. I know more people now. I can walk to the store, and I’m talking to 15 people before I leave. I’m a totally different person now.”
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