After Mike Bauler witnessed his father-in-law being put on life support following a heart attack on Christmas Day in 2010, the Madison, Wisc., resident said he knew he needed to change his own ways.
A father of two, Bauler says seeing his family so upset caused him to think about his own weight gain and future health.
“At this time I was 28, had two young boys, Eli (2) and Carson (6 months),” he says. “I recall all of the family standing around crying and sad. This was the trigger for me as I knew if I didn’t get my life together soon, I would be the next person in that hospital bed.”
Until that point, Bauler, who weighed 450 lbs. at his heaviest, was still practicing some of the habits from his college football player days — even though they were long gone.
“When I was done with college and stopped playing football I kept eating like a football player and pretty much cold turkey stopped working out,” he says. “I was eating lots of fast food, lots of pop. There’s a McDonald’s on my way to work and I would probably stop there a few days a week. It wasn’t uncommon to have two or three breakfast sandwiches and a large coke with it or something like that.”
A few weeks after his father-in-law was admitted to the hospital, Bauler told his wife Megan he wanted to lose weight, so they signed up at a local gym. Bauler first focused on exercising and eventually made changes to his diet, sticking to 1,500 calories a day and smaller portion sizes for one year.
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“At first I just got on the elliptical for about 20 minutes and I felt like I was going to die,” Bauler says.
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“I lost most of my weight (200 lbs.) in about 18 months so I have had to stay busy to keep it off,” he says. “I am extremely competitive and have an amazing network of friends and the From Fat To Finish Line (FFTFL) community. I like to join training groups and training clubs because of the friendships and accountability it creates. It would be easy for me to blow off a 10-mile run at 5:30 on a Friday morning, but I know I have two friends meeting me, who I would never let down.”
Now Bauler is excited to inspire his sons: “It’s life changing. There’s a lot of pride in knowing you’re setting a good example for your kids. My kids talk about running and biking and my 8-year-old knew all about the Ironman triathlon, which is really cool.”
With reporting by Hilary Shenfeld