'I'm 28 and had never kissed a girl… until now': Man who weighed 439lbs loses half his body weight (and finds love for first time)
16:15 GMT, 2 July 2012
19:57 GMT, 2 July 2012
Michael Giannulis was 28 years old, and had never had a girlfriend or kissed a girl when he embarked on his one year weight-loss challenge on ABC's Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.
Weighing in at 493lbs, the Tarpon Springs, Florida native was depressed, insecure and embarrassed to meet or even talk to women.
Now boasting a trim 238lb body, Michael wowed viewers on last night's episode having shed over 245lbs from start to finish, with a girlfriend by his side.
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Fabulous and fit: Michael Giannulis weighed 493lbs at the start of her
Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition challenge and by the end of the
year dropped an astonishing 255lbs, weighing in at 238lbs
The small business consultant couldn't remember a time when he wasn't obese, and more than anything wanted to be able to share his life with someone special and eventually raise a family.
His weight destroyed his self-confidence about his romantic prospects so he reached out to Extreme
Makeover's trainer Chris Powell for help.
'I want to share who I am with somebody else, but I mean, who would want to see this' he told ABC while pointing to his stomach.
'It's so awful. No girl deserves this you know.'
Tough slog: The small business consultant couldn't remember a time when he wasn't obese, and more than anything wanted to be able to share his life with someone special and eventually raise a family
Michael is part of a loving, tight-knit Greek family and lives close to his relatives, but he had always sabotaged his chances at a healthier lifestyle by dropping by his mother and aunt's houses for multiple meals in addition to the ones he has in his own home.
His brother, who shares a home with him, would marvel about Michael's third 'dinner' of the day, but privately worried that eventually Michael's weight issues would kill him prematurely.
Michael said: 'I don't have a full-length mirror
anywhere in the house, and if I can avoid seeing myself, I guess it's
out of sight out of mind.'
'But if I don't do something to lose the weight, I think I'll just go to sleep and that will be it.'
Confidence boosting: His weight destroyed his self-confidence about his romantic prospects so he reached out to Extreme Makeover's trainer Chris Powell for help
Mr Powell vowed to put him on the path to love by getting him a professional matchmaker, if he was able to lose 120lbs in the first three months.
In an inspiring development, Michael's entire family also committed to collectively losing 500 pounds.
Michael reached his three-month goal, weighing in at 373lbs. Michael was then taken out with a dating consultant who helped him with his confidence in talking to girls.
He eventually met Megan, who became his supporting rock and first-time girlfriend, as he inched towards his final stretch.
He said: 'I’ve got a brand new girlfriend and things are going awesome.'
First girlfriend: Megan (right) became Michael's supportive first-time girlfriend as he inched towards his weight-loss months
Success: Michael reached his goal, weighing in at 238lbs. He eventually met Megan, who became his supporting rock and first-time girlfriend, as he inched towards his final stretch
By the end of the year, weighing in at 238lbs, fit, strong and healthy both in mind and body, Michael was rewarded for his brave accomplishment by Walmart with a $50,000 gift card.
Michael, who can't believe he was able to lose over half his body weight, said sarcastically: ' You know, I don't want to sound like an arrogant guy, but with my new body, I might just give modelling a try.'
And, committed to keeping the weight off, he added: 'My weight was just a symptom to my addiction to food. We tend to focus on the weight so much, we forget about the real underlying problem.
'You can’t do it alone. As we go through this process, real life
happens, and we need to talk about it. We need to share in order to
heal. It’s really important to reach out to those different people or
there are incredible online sites as well.'