Image courtesy of Ben Whalen

Ben Whalen had just finished up a routine physical in March 2015 when his doctor handed him a piece of paper that would change his life.

It was a pamphlet for bariatric surgery. At 176kg, Whalen was obese, and his doctor suggested the surgery as a potential weight-loss option. Whalen knew it wasn’t for him—“I had seen too many people do it and not have success,” he says—but seeing the pamphlet was precisely the kick in the ass he needed to start his transformation.

So he pledged to drop pounds the old-fashioned way.  He hooked up with a personal trainer and mixed weights with cardio 7 days a week.

“It just about killed me,” Whalen says of his initial routine. “I actually fell down the stairs because my legs were so shot from all the work—but every time I did it again I would feel better.

And after 2 weeks, I loved the burn.”

Whalen also phased out diet staples like pizza and mac and cheese in favor of healthier fare like eggs and spinach salad. By January 2016, he had shed 85kg, down to 91kg.

“I have pushed my body harder than I ever thought imaginable,” Whalen says of his amazing weight loss. “And it wants more!”