Gary has plenty to lose, so much to gain
NOT many people have seen Ipswich man Gary Tofaenono in the past year.
That's because he has been too embarrassed to step outside - at 30-years-old Gary weighs just under 300 kilos.
For six years he has struggled with diets and weight loss attempts, but recently his situation has become desperate.
After Gary started working from home three years ago he became so big he wanted to hide away from the public eye.
That only compounded the issue as Gary sat at home, isolated, eating fast food, takeaways, leftovers from his cake decorating business, and rarely exercising.
Now, after seeing an ad sponsored by one of his heroes NRL superstar Jarryd Hayne, Gary is determined to turn his life around.
He's signed up for a 12 week challenge run by Project Evolt with a goal to eventually lose 200 kilos.
The challenge also puts him in the running to win a prize worth $100,000 - and because his partner Jennifer, who weighs 154 kilos, is taking part too the pair could be $200,000 richer by Christmas.
Gary won't be trying to lose all of that weight in the 12 weeks, but he's determined to shed as much as safely possible.
After less than two weeks, he's already lost 14 kilos.
"It's really been about changing my diet," Gary said.
"I was eating takeaway most of the time, and a lot of it, and doing no exercise at all.
"Thankfully I haven't had any health problems and I guess I just got used to the lifestyle.
"I saw an ad on Facebook with Jarryd Hayne. I clicked on it because I'm a Jarryd Hayne fan and I wanted to see what it was all about.
"I didn't think I'd be able to take part in the challenge, because I'm too big, but I messaged them anyway.
"They messaged me straight back."
This isn't the first time Gary has tried to lose weight, but it is the first time he has had this much support.
Goodlife Ipswich has sponsored him with a gym membership and personal training sessions while Project Evolt has put Gary in touch with other sponsors including food from Fresh Meals 2 U.
"I feel like I can't fail this time," Gary said.
"I've got a really good team behind me."
Yesterday was the first time Gary met with Goodlife Personal trainer Ford Statham.
Ford says while Gary has a long journey ahead of him, he's already overcome one of the biggest hurdles people face when trying to lose weight.
"Commitment is the biggest factor," Ford said.
"People have to want to do it. It doesn't matter how big you are, it's about that desire to succeed.
"It's not going to be any harder for Gary than it is for anyone else because he's bigger - it all comes back to commitment."
To win the $100,000 Gary will need to convince a panel of judges that his story is the most compelling.
Project Evolt manufactures body scanning equipment to measure the transformation inside a person's body, rather than relying on their appearance to see results.
To be scanned Gary needs to get down to 270 kilos.
The results will be used to judge the winner of the completion, but Natalie Williams, Project Evolt business manager, says numbers aren't the only factor.
"It's about an overall body transformation," Natalie said.
"We'll be using the scans, but it is about the personal story too.
"What was their life like before and how much has taking part in this challenge contributed to a lifestyle and moving forward with their fitness journey."
The winner of the 12 week challenge, which started on September 24, will be announced on December 24.