http://tinyurl.com/pw3rd Men's Health NAME: Joseph Huber HOME: Milwaukee, WI AGE: 33 HEIGHT: 6'2" WEIGHT: 197 lb OCCUPATION: Machine operator BEFORE: 547 LB AFTER: 197 LB THE GAIN: Following a nasty divorce 10 years ago, Huber hit the comfort food—hard—and ballooned from his high-school weight of 260 pounds. A typical Monday Night Football feast consisted of a large pizza, two 2-liter bottles of soda, garlic bread, jalapeno poppers, two beef sandwiches, chips and beer. "I never felt full," he says. Huber's weight steadily increased to 547 pounds. THE CHANGE: Climbing a creaky set of porch stairs took Huber a harrowing 15 minutes. "I was afraid the stairs were going to fall off the building," he says. "I realized then that if I didn't lose some weight, I would die." Huber opted for gastric bypass surgery in December 2003, which limited his stomach to 6 ounces of food at a time. THE LIFESTYLE: The surgery was just the start. Huber still weighed 450 pounds when he started to ride his bike seven miles to work. "The first time, it took me an hour and a half," he says. Huber was soon biking or running to work every day, and he started lifting weights. His stomach has since stretched to fit a normal-size meal, but Huber's eating habits haven't regressed: He avoids anything high in fat or sugar, and fuels workouts with protein shakes and tuna sandwiches. THE REWARD: Last year, Huber placed 26th out of 472 participants in his first triathlon. His 2006 race schedule is already packed. "I'm at a place I really like," Huber says. "Eating healthy and exercising are second nature." JOE'S TIPS The shortcut only takes you so far. "The surgery got me in the right mind-set, but I still had to exercise and eat right to get fit. That's what really made the difference." Live the diet. "A diet is something you do to lose weight, and then you go back to how you used to eat. Healthy eating has to become your norm." Take baby steps. "I was afraid to push myself in exercise. But if you do it once, it's not as hard the next time. The more you work at it, the easier things become for you."