The following men not only wanted to shape up, they took action and made their ambitions a reality.
Take a look at how they shifted their habits to improve their lives for years to come.
How Christopher Jacob lost 38 pounds in 4 years
After his wife had a heart attack in 2012 at age 45, Christopher Jacob knew they both had to make a change.
The father of three from Saudi Arabia had high cholesterol, and feared he was on a similar path.
Jacob and his wife both vowed to take shaping up seriously to ensure they would be around to support their kids for decades to come.
Despite a work schedule packed with travel as a director of human resources, Jacob made exercise a priority. While traveling, he would pick out his hotels based on the workout facilities, searching for options with either a pool to swim in or a gym to lift in.
Jacob would also follow along with fat-loss workout videos from Men’s Health Fitness Director BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S., to add variety and blast calories. (Gaddour just launched his newest and most intense fat-burning workout program ever with Men’s Health, MetaShred Extreme.)
He also reigned in his calorie count to about 1,500 to 2,000 per day, using the app MyFitnessPal to track his intake. On days when he overdid it, he worked off the extra calories at the gym.
The 44 year old got off his cholesterol medication in January 2015 and has been off it ever since. The same motivating factor that pushed him to take action in the first place continues to drive him to keep the weight off today: His kids.
“I am a family man,” Jacob says. “And I would like to see my kids grow, influence them in any means possible, and have an impact on their lives—so that when the time comes to let them go, I know that I have taught them well.”
How Ted Gibson lost 45 pounds in 6 months
The sexiest women in the world want Ted Gibson. Angelina Jolie, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, and other A-listers line up for him—for haircuts, at a price of $1,500 a pop.
Related: The 100 Hottest Women Of All Time
But while New York’s top hairstylist was busy growing his salon empire, his girth grew too.
“I just wasn’t exercising as much as I had been before,” says Gibson, 50. “And the weight slowly crept on.”
As a 6’4”, 200-pound ultralean bodybuilder in the early 1990s, Gibson had always been a naturally big, muscular guy.
“But last January I hit 280,” he says. “I had less energy and my back hurt. I wanted to look amazing for my impending 50th birthday.”
So Men’s Health paired Gibson with Vinny Brandstadter of Peak Performance, a New York City gym just around the corner from his salon, and Men’s Health nutrition advisor Mike Roussell, Ph.D.
Roussell worked to sneak healthy tweaks into Gibson’s diet that wouldn’t affect his overall lifestyle. He helped Gibson find healthy meals at each of the restaurants where his staff orders lunch every day.
Along with making key changes to his diet, Gibson hit the gym three days a week. Gibson did aerobic intervals that built his endurance and hour-long circuits that burned between 500 to 700 calories.
He admits he was nervous to not be “the big guy” anymore.
“But I’m now at 235 pounds,” says Gibson. “This is the best I’ve felt in a long time. I have a lot more energy, my back doesn’t hurt, and I’m getting a lot of compliments.”
How Yosef Herzog lost 50 pounds in 5 months
Yosef Herzog played sports in high school and college. But once he graduated, his structured workouts fell apart. Aside from intramural sports and some pickup basketball games in Manhattan, he rarely stepped foot in the gym.
The weight crept up on him. At 231 pounds, he began experiencing back pain and was out of breath after tying his shoes.
After trying to develop healthier habits and losing motivation after a couple weeks, Herzog signed up for the gym at his office.
His evaluation session didn’t seem that tough: Lunges, planks, and pushups. But 20 minutes in, Herzog lost his lunch—twice.
“I wouldn’t say I was in Chris Farley territory, but I was definitely in bad shape,” says Herzog.
He began alternating cardio and strength training, six days a week.
Herzog also cleaned up his diet. He swapped oatmeal in for his usual breakfast bagel, salad in for subs, and Mexican-style chicken and beans in for burgers.
In less than half a year, he weighed 181 pounds and needed new clothes. “The fitter I got,” he says, “the more confident I felt.”
How Bryan Hodgins lost 190 pounds in 2 years
From age 2, Bryan Hodgins had been overweight—but a lot changed for him at 17, when he got a job at a local grocery store.
Hodgins started in the heat of August 2014—walking over a mile to get to the store where he’d push carts and help customers pack their groceries. He weighed about 380 pounds at the time.
At first, Hodgins didn’t think those 7-hour shifts had any impact on his body.
“I didn’t notice any difference,” he says. “I had family and people I work with, over the course of a year and a half that I was [at the store], tell me, ‘You’ve lost weight.’ And you know, I never believed them.”
A little less than a year later after he started working at the grocery store, he was helping his family move and weigh metal at a scrap yard. On a whim, Hodgins decided to hop on one of the scales—and was floored by the result.
“I can still remember the number as clear as day as being 247 pounds,” Hodgins says.
He had lost about 140 pounds.
Even though the weight loss was accidental, the significant amount of pounds he’d dropped really began to sink in.
“When you see a number that low, from what you’ve started at, you get a sense of accomplishment,” he says. “And so I tried eating better.”
Hodgins began incorporating more protein-rich foods like chicken and eggs and eliminating packaged sweets and salty snacks.
He also started working out with a friend from work.
“They made me do mountain-climbers and pushups and situps,” Hodgins says. “They kicked my ass when it came down to it.”
Now down to 190 pounds, Hodgins is studying to be a paramedic. He hopes to eventually enlist as a combat medical technician in the armed forces.
How Mark Warnke lost 53 pounds in 4 months
Mark Warnke had just booked tickets to propose to his girlfriend on the beach when she ended the relationship.
Warnke was devastated. But in the aftermath of his breakup, he decided it was the perfect time to take control of his life.
He started in the kitchen.
Warnke switched out his frozen meals and canned soups with chicken breast and fresh vegetables that he could throw on the grill Sunday night and eat for the rest of the week.
In the past, Warnke had tried trends like cutting carbs and diet pills, but nothing worked better than eating whole foods.
He also started doing bodyweight workouts on the Men’s Health website.
Soon Warnke was able to put his heartburn medication away and after only a month of his new training regimen, Warnke had to go out and buy all new pants.
He was down 53 pounds total four months after the breakup.
But if you ask Warnke, he didn’t lose the weight to spite his ex-girlfriend.
“It wasn’t an, ‘I’m going to show her,’” he says. “It was an ‘I’m going to be the best person I can be.’”
How Jake Galicia lost 86 pounds in 2.5 years
When Jake Galicia’s blood test results came in, he was shocked to find out he had high blood sugar and lipid levels. At 29, Galicia thought he was too young to be on the borderline for metabolic diseases like diabetes.
Galicia had always been on the heavier side—at the time he was 247 pounds—but the new father could not stand the idea that his condition might someday stop him from watching his toddler grow up.
In February 2012, Galicia started a low-carb diet full of protein and vegetables.
Despite working sporadic shifts at an insurance company, Galicia made it a priority to squeeze in workouts.
Galicia would exercise anytime between the early morning and midnight, depending on when his shift fell that day—but he always made time.
Initially he’d hit the gym to run on the treadmill or complete circuit workouts. But as the fat began melting off, he started incorporating strength training into his workouts to gain muscle.
And those odd hours at the gym were well spent. Galicia eventually shed 10 inches from his waist.
Now 33 years old, he says perseverance was key to his weight-loss success.
“No matter how hard it may seem, you have to finish your workout,” he says. “This is how your body exceeds its ‘known’ limits, preparing you to face more difficult physical tasks.”