Pasquale Brocco doesn’t want to hear your excuses. Once a pre-diabetic who tipped the scales at 605lbs, he reached his breaking point after catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror and decided to change. He didn’t whine. He didn’t cheat. He simply did. And now at sub-10% body fat and 270lbs, he’s inspiring his 170,000 Instagram followers to change, too.

But before he became a motivating force on social media, Brocco was a security guard for various bands and venues. Over time, he fell into a toxic trap of bad lifestyle choices.

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“While on tour, I ate everywhere from fast-food joints and gas stations to sit-down places like Waffle House,” says Brocco. “A lot of times at McDonald’s, I would get 100 chicken nuggets, fries, a double cheeseburger, and a large Hi-C.” Total calories for that single meal: 6,000.

Eventually, a routine medical checkup revealed to Brocco—who, at 6’7″, thought he was 400lbs—that he weighed 605. Worse yet, his blood pressure was through the roof, he was pre-diabetic, his liver was covered in fat, and doctors told him he was eating himself into a grave.

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“My first step after that wasn’t change,” Brocco recalls. “I went home, and it was bad. The only way I could think to deal with it was to eat.” Two weeks later, however, after Brocco had trouble washing himself due to the immensity of his belly, he took a hard look at himself in the mirror.

“My stomach was hanging to my thighs,” says Brocco. “My chest was hanging almost to my belly button. I was just disgusted with who I was. Right then I took a picture and I told myself, ‘I never want to be this guy again.’”

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Immediately, Brocco threw out every piece of sustenance in his kitchen and walked a mile and a half (a long walk when you’re 600-plus-lbs) to Walmart to buy healthy food. He continued walking every day for 90 days and dropped 100lbs. But even after all that weight came off, Brocco still felt as if he looked the same. So, he took to the Internet to research weight loss and stumbled upon bodybuilding. From then on, he formulated a plan: First, lose enough weight to fit into the machines at the gym and stand on treadmills—most can support only up to 350lbs—which was accomplished by swimming laps and playing basketball. Second: Lift weights to lose fat and build muscle to fill out his frame.

Mission accomplished

Despite the loose skin, an unfortunate aftereffect of his weight loss, Brocco has chiseled out an impressive physique. His shoulders and quads are striated, his back is wide, and his abs and obliques are clearly shredded. He has also earned a nickname: “Possible Pat,” a moniker that emphasizes that anything is possible. In early July, he even competed in a physique show, a drastic display of his weight loss that most guys in his position would shy away from. But Brocco knows that following through is more important.

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“I want to show people you don’t have to stop improving,” says Brocco. “You can keep going. Doing the show was the best way to prove to my followers that you can do whatever you put your mind to.”