Courtesy Mark Bryant; Chris Shipman
December 25, 2014 03:30 PM

Mark Bryant’s journey to losing more than half his size began with a simple Google search.

“I looked up ‘calories needed to maintain my weight,’ ” Bryant, 40, tells PEOPLE. At the time, he weighed 442 lbs. “I determined I needed about 5,500 calories to maintain my weight and that was just stunning to me. I was eating up to 8,000 calories a day.”

How had his diet gotten so out of control? “To me, food was immediate gratification. Going to the gym takes work.”

Hard work was just what it took to for the father of three to get down to his current weight of 178 lbs.

“I knew my personality,” he admits. “Anything I did cold turkey tends to flop, so I knew I had to take baby steps and make lifestyle changes.”

Bryant started by gradually reducing his calorie intake until he hit roughly 2,100 per day. He also joined Anytime Fitness, his local gym. “Once I started seeing the results it became my motivation to take things further,” says the Star, Idaho, native.

Here’s a look at his daily diet – then and now.

Breakfast: Bacon breakfast burrito with an extra large soda

Lunch: Double bacon cheeseburger, large fries and an extra large soda

Snack: King-size candy bar

Dinner: Extra large (18-in.) pizza with the works and an extra large soda

Dessert: Huge bowl of ice cream

Approximate calories: 7,930

Morning snack: Protein shake

Breakfast: Flat-bread sandwich with ¾ cup egg whites, lean meat, cheddar cheese, spinach, onions and black olives

Lunch: Chicken and flank steak, ½ cup white rice and 2 cups steamed veggies

Pre-workout snack: Protein bar

Post-workout snack: Protein shake

Dinner: Chicken, ½ cup white rice, steamed broccoli with spray butter

Dessert: 1 cup oatmeal, protein shake

Approximate calories: 2,155

For more amazing transformations, diet tips that really work and the hottest Hollywood slimdowns, check out PEOPLE’s Half Their Size issue, on newsstands Tuesday

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