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By The Editors of Men’s Health

Before: 320 pounds
After: 240 pounds

Vitals: Travis Binderup, 26, Riverton, NE
Occupation: Farmer
Height: 6’5″
Reached His Goal In: 18 months

The Setback
You’d think working on a farm would keep a guy in shape, but have you ever been on a tractor? You can sit there and eat fast food all day—and I did. Eventually I needed some action in my life, so I volunteered as a firefighter. Turns out, I wasn’t fit for duty: I was so out of breath and disoriented after running into a burning building that a fellow firefighter had to pull me out. I mean, I was seconds away from being trapped. My weight almost killed me. (Need some motivation yourself? Read these 20 Reasons to Lose 20 Pounds)

The Wake-Up Call
I spent most of my high school days on a team. Football. Basketball. Rugby. But when I had trouble keeping up with the guys in the fire department, I felt like a loner. Plus, my mood swings pushed my girlfriend away. As I sat on my tractor, it became clear that unless I fixed myself, I could end up alone or dead.

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The Food
I used to eat 2,000 calories just for dinner, plus a ton of soda or coffee to keep myself awake on nighttime tractor runs. Still, my energy would crash. Then I learned that dividing good calories—fruits, vegetables, and protein—throughout the day, and drinking plenty of water, left me consistently energetic. Now I have a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast, a turkey sandwich on whole wheat with an apple for lunch, and an 8-ounce steak or chicken for dinner. I make my calories count. (Video: The best food you’re not eating)

The Fitness
I began hitting the fire department’s gym 3 or 4 days a week, doing a combination of weights and running 2 miles on the treadmill. (Search: How to blast more fat on a treadmill) Soon I’d gained enough strength to hack it at a new job, working a 5,000-acre farm, and no longer had time for fire-fighting. I learned that as long as I kept moving, the weight stayed off. These days, farm chores demand a lot of lifting and a lot of walking—3 to 5 miles a day. I even developed a pushup routine for days I can’t make it to the gym. (Want to incorporate this exercise into your own routine? Try one of these 8 Variations of the Pushup—we guarantee you won’t become bored with them.)

The Reward
I’ll admit it: I used to be lazy at work. But today I’m the first guy to volunteer if something heavy needs to be lifted. I’ve even inspired my adoptive father, who saw how I transformed myself: He lost more than 60 pounds himself.