How this college student lost 184 lbs and went on to complete the Chicago marathon

Taking that first step to losing weight is always the hardest thing to do. But this college student took it even further – he took up running lose weight, lost 184-lbs, and went on to complete the Chicago Marathon!

Ethan Taylor has always been big, and it was an advantage in his younger years as a football player. He was encouraged to bulk up, which wasn’t a problem since he played football and remained active.

His weight, however, reached its peak in his second year as a college student. He was 5 feet six inches tall, and clocked in at 368-lbs, brought about by years of late-night snacking, lack of exercise, and failure to keep to a proper diet. He often skipped breakfast, but made up for it with a big sandwich with chips and soda for lunch, and large portions for dinner.

His taste for junk food often led to late night bingeing on more chips, ice cream, doughnuts, and other treats and sugary drinks. “I’d make myself a whole other meal.” Drinking and late night fast food runs, usually for double cheese burgers and tacos, gave the college student 50 more pounds.

Instagram | Ethan Taylor

Taylor also had to contend with depression and anxiety. He stopped going to classes after a back injury had gotten progressively worse. “I just laid in bed most days.” In his second year, he was so low emotionally that the college student decided to drop out.  “I really didn’t think I was going to live that much longer.”

The harsh realization though, motivated the Rockford, Illinois native to move back home and “give it one more try.” He started overhauling his diet, sourcing his food from Food 4 Fuel, a local company that provides healthy, portion-controlled meals. Staples included egg white omelets, turkey bacon, and roasted sweet potatoes for breakfast.

Instagram | Ethan Taylor

Chicken, turkey, or fish, along with brown rice and broccoli, were his go-to meals for lunch and dinner. He also started going to physical therapy and saw a chiropractor to heal his nagging back injury.

Taylor then took up running to help aid weight loss six months later. “As I was losing weight, I made a list of things I wanted to do to motivate myself to stick with it. One of those items was ‘run a half marathon.’” He found a doable training program and gradually built up his endurance.

The half marathon itself was exhilarating! “There were so many people cheering me on, giving out water, and holding up signs—I had never had an experience quite like that, and it was so cool to be part of such a welcoming community.

I crossed the line in 2:09:49—I was pleasantly surprised about my time, considering when I first started running, I couldn’t run a mile faster than 15:00.” By this time he had already lost 170 lbs.

He then set his sights on the 42-year old Bank of Chicago Marathon, piling on the mileage and eventually finishing in 4 hours, 44 minutes and 56 seconds.  Taylor was ecstatic! “I beat my goal time by four seconds! It feels pretty cool to be able to complete something that massive.” And after losing practically half his body weight, all the hard work has been worth it.

“I’m happier with who I am and how I look. It’s a 180-degree flip for me. It’s awesome.”

The marathon was a win for others as well, as Taylor raced to raise money for Action for Healthy Kids, a charity that aims to defeat childhood obesity.

All photos by Ethan Taylor/Instagram

He’s also a college student again, this time reflecting his healthier lifestyle by majoring in exercise science.

With significant improvements in his physical and mental health, Taylor just wants his journey to be a positive message to others, that change is possible. “I want to show people and myself that you can go from one extreme to the other.”