Max Kapelus was struggling to keep up on the basketball court when he knew he needed a change. By changing his diet and taking up running, the resident of Forest Hills, NY, pulled off an incredible 115-pound weight loss transformation. This is is his story.
- Age: Turning 28 on January 15th, 2019
- Height: 6’2″
- Heaviest weight: 317 lbs.
- Weight now: 202 lbs.
- Total weight loss: 115 lbs.
Kapelus says college was a “huge contributor” to his weight gain.
“I put on a lot of weight in college from all of the partying and drinking I was doing. Diet and fitness completely fell by the wayside. After college I got a desk job, which meant being sedentary during the day—and then I fell in love with cooking. I would spend my nights and weekends trying new recipes and cooking elaborate meals for my wife and family and eating all that I could. Then I launched a private chef business on the side, which pushed me deeper and deeper into weight gain.”
He “didn’t feel comfortable in [his] skin”—and decided to make a change.
“I didn’t feel good. Physically or emotionally. There was always this feeling that people were staring and negatively judging … I missed out on experiences and opportunities because I was self-conscious about how I would look and what other people would think. Food became an emotional crutch. It turned into a terrible cycle of eating, because I was feeling bad, and then feeling bad because I was eating.
“On top of that, I couldn’t keep up when trying to play basketball with friends on the weekend. My XXL shirts and size 40 pants were getting too tight, and I was sizing myself out of normal stores and brands. My knees hurt, my back hurt. I looked at what my life was, and saw what I wanted it to be. Change needed to happen.”
He started eating better and exercising, but at first, it was “hard to find a balance.”
“I cut down on processed junk, started cooking healthier and controlling my portions. Then I got myself into the gym and started walking outdoors, which led to the running.
“It was hard finding a balance. I had my job during the day, culinary gigs on weekends, and I started an evening culinary school program at the International Culinary Center. Once that ended, I started a masters program at New York University that I am currently working to complete. Finding a balance was rough, but it forced me to take on changes at a realistic pace in order to fit them into my day to day life. Developing consistent positive habits will allow a level of clarity that you wouldn’t be able to achieve otherwise.”
The results came sooner than Kapelus expected.
“They didn’t feel real in the beginning. Since college, I was the king at losing 25 lbs. and then putting 35 back on. This time was the healthiest way I went about [it] … but until I hit 35-40 lbs., I felt like I would find a way to screw it up.
But eventually, seeing the results just kept pushing me more—to keep looking better, performing better and more importantly, feeling better. With every plateau came more research and learning about what to do next and be able to push myself harder and smarter.”
But he still faced some major hurdles in his weight loss journey.
“The biggest hurdles were mental. Part of me felt like I wasn’t capable of and didn’t deserve being fit, and that I was going to gain back whatever I started losing in half the time. Once I got out of my head, it became a little easier.
“… It also helps to find people that inspire you. There are a couple of social media accounts that I followed on Instagram for information and motivation. Find like-minded people to build a network—support systems are huge. My wife helped me with meal prepping, let me talk about the insecurities and challenges that I was dealing with as often as I wanted, and she couldn’t have been more supportive. While you are responsible for your own weight loss, having support and a cheer squad never hurt anybody. If you’re reading this and don’t have anyone in your corner, reach out: I got you.”
Kapelus says his weight loss transformation “still feels surreal.”
“I don’t always recognize myself when I look in the mirror. Since losing the weight, I have completed a Tough Mudder and half marathon. I have the NYC half marathon in March, Chicago marathon in October, and Tough Mudder Ultra in April. I have a new level of self-confidence and new level of discipline that I never had. If you can change and control the small daily things that you do—like what you eat and getting to the gym and heading out for that run—you can control the bigger things in your life and how you react to them.”
As for his advice for other guys?
“The big weight loss goal can only be accomplished through hard work and consistency. The long game is important to have on your mind, but you need to remember to stay in the moment and be present. Real change and progress come from the little decisions that we make in our daily lives … Take it one meal, one workout and one day at a time.
“Contrary to what you may think, you are good enough, and you do deserve to be in the shape that you want and have the body that you want. Never settle for less than you are. I didn’t see real change until I internalized that.”