Many people who’ve done something dramatic to change will talk about “the moment.” The exchange, interaction or embarrassment that finally pushed them into turning their life around. It moment is usually accidental.
Jesse Shand, a 28-year-old IT professional from Michigan went looking for his moment. Tipping the scales — actually he needed two scales to get the correct weight — at almost 700 pounds, Shand knew he had to take a drastic step or he’d be dead. He signed up for a profile on Bodybuilding.com and started posting photos of his massive frame. He was hoping to get fat shamed into finally losing weight.
He failed to find one person who’d say a negative word. Instead, he found an online support system.
“I went there because it was a place where I knew I would find people that were the complete opposite of me,” Shand told AskMen in an interview. “I would be dead if it wasn’t the community on Bodybuilding.com, I’m sure of it. When I say they literally saved my life, they really did save my life.”
Of course, it was Shand who had to do the actual work, but the forum was there on the days Shand was filled with regrets and excuses for not working out. But the members on the “Misc” message board didn’t just give Shand words of encouragement.
They gave advice, workout and nutrition tips and even sent weights that Shand could use and healthy foods. They pooled together money to buy him a yearlong gym membership. One member sent an inflatable pool so that Shand could bathe for the first time in over a year.
Three years after joining the forum, Shand weighs 260 pounds. His goal weight is 180 pounds. Much of the weight is in excess skin, roughly 40 pounds, and has started a GoFundMe page to raise the money for his skin removal surgery.
Bodybuilding.com invited Shand to its corporate headquarters in Idaho over the summer to speak to hundreds of employees about his journey and he’s considering becoming a personal trainer.
“I feel like I’m in a unique position to help people that have a significant amount of weight to lose to take the first steps in being able to do that,” he said. “That’s what I’d love to be able to do, to give a back to the community that gave me my life back.”