Meet Jesse Shand. In 2013 he was a morbidly obese guy in his mid-20s with zero self-esteem and a major addiction to internet trolling. His bullying, in fact, knew few bounds. He even targeted super-tough body builders – from the safety of his couch, of course. But when his victims finally challenged him to post a photograph of himself, he had no idea that his life was about to be turned upside down.
As a troll, Shand went out of his way to make internet forum users feel bad about themselves. And he used bullying as an outlet for his own sadness. “It made me kind of get a laugh and feel better about my situation,” he later explained.
During his childhood, Shand faced tragedy when his father was murdered. And as an adult, he could not control his spiraling weight gain. After trying (and failing) to drop the pounds, he eventually gave in to a hermit-like life of gaming and trolling.
Naturally, his mom, Coreen Rosenogle, worried about her son’s unhealthy lifestyle. Yet despite her encouragement to go outside and exercise, Shand continued to spend all day and night sitting in front of his computer. “I thought he would die very young,” she told Barcroft TV.
When it came to cyberbullying, Shand made cruel comments to anyone and everyone. No one was safe: from gamers struggling to buy a new console to women discussing feminist issues. “I would target anyone for my trolling, if someone was upset about a break up I might talk a lot about how great it is to be in a relationship,” Shand told the video channel.
But when Shand decided to start trolling the bodybuilding.com forum, things started to change. He posted a photograph of himself topless, inviting forum members to ask him anything. But instead of being cruel, they started to encourage him to lose weight. They even, in fact, offered him helpful advice.
At first, Shand didn’t want to hear what they had to say. Luckily for him, though, the forum members didn’t want to hear his excuses either. “I said I was too fat to exercise, but they said I could just sit in my chair and flop around to lose weight,” Shand added.
At just over six feet tall and weighing nearly 700 pounds, Shand could barely stand. Still, he decided to give exercise a try anyway. And as recommended, his first workout involved flapping around to some music while seated. Sweaty? Check. Tiring? Check. The first step on a longer weight loss journey? Definite check.
Shand felt so good after his first taste of exercise that he kept going. Indeed, he’d switch his music on at the same time every night and wiggle around until he was sweaty. Within a few months, he had become physically fit enough to walk around the house again.
He also made some changes to his diet. By cutting out a few hundred calories each day (and saying “no” to that second chicken quesadilla), Shand started to notice his weight dropping. And within seven months, he’d lost 100 pounds.
Meanwhile, his intended victims on the bodybuilding forum were now his support network, and they continued to offer him training tips. Indeed, their encouragement really motivated Shand. His previous weight loss attempts, by contrast, lasted only a month.
Since that fateful post in the bodybuilding forum back in May 2013, Shand has lost at least 400 pounds. So far, that is nearly half his previous body weight. And amazingly, he’s managed all the weight loss with just regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Of course, it all started with boogying to music in his chair, but today Shand enjoys a variety of heart-pumping hobbies. Covering everything from weightlifting to archery, his new lifestyle is certainly an active one. He even goes to the gym five days a week.
There’s a social side to Shand’s new life, too. Being more active means he can leave the house to meet up with old buddies – all of whom seem impressed with his transformation. He’s also got himself a job in IT, the first paid role he’s had in years.
Of course, Shand had to give up on those chicken quesadillas. Although he loves fast food, takeouts and chocolate, he does his best to battle his cravings. “Now I just eat enough calories to make sure I can support all my exercise,” he told Barcroft TV.
Even better, Shand has kicked another bad habit to the curb: he’s stopped trolling. Now, instead of deliberately hurting others, he spends his time helping people. Specifically, he intends to work with others who have struggled with losing weight.
Shand admits that he used cyberbullying as an outlet for his own sadness. “When you’re actively trying to bring people down and get negative attention, it almost always reflects something in your own life,” he told Today.com.
Not surprisingly, sitting in front of his computer day after day had left Shand feeling disconnected from the real world. Until the bodybuilders gave him the motivation to change, he had dismissed his potential impact on others. “You don’t see your victims, you don’t see what it does to them,” he explained.
There’s just one step left on Shand’s weight-loss journey, and that’s ditching the extra skin. Due to his huge weight loss, Shand has been left with folds of skin that need to be removed surgically.
“When you lose that kind of weight you’re going to have loose skin and I have it in the belly area, under my arms and in my thigh area,” he said. After the operation, he’ll be a new man. Only the surgery is pretty pricey: it will cost $20,000.
Luckily for Shand, the good people of the internet have come to his rescue yet again. In fact, well-wishers have already donated nearly $20,500 to his GoFundMe target. Soon, then, Shand will be able to take the last few steps on his weird and wonderful journey towards a rockin’ bod.