Lucas Irwin decided that he wanted to lose weight, but he didn’t tell anyone – not even his parents. He decided to show them instead, and he did so in person after a year-long effort. The drastic difference left them completely shocked.
It was December 28, 2012, when Irwin made the decision that he was going to lose weight. “It’s something that I have struggled with all my life,” he told Today. At that time in his life, he was 300 pounds.
But Irwin decided that he didn’t just want to drop the weight – he wanted his effort to be a surprise. Therefore, he couldn’t depend on his family for support, so he headed online, where he found all the motivation he needed from Reddit’s “LoseIt” community.
“Social media was amazing for my weight-loss journey,” Irwin said, adding, “You can post your progress and they would help with diet tips and that sort of thing.” Those food-related tips helped shape Irwin’s path to his goal weight.
The 25-year-old noted all that he ate in a food diary, and his daily meals conformed to a strict plan. “I lost 95 percent of the weight just through changing my diet. I only ate 1,350 calories a day,” Irwin said.
Irwin didn’t add exercise into the mix until seven or eight months into his weight-loss regimen. He also had to reconfigure his typical family reunion schedule to make the final reveal a surprise, since he usually visited his parents biannually.
Irwin admitted, “I only go home once or twice a year, usually once in the summer, once for Christmas. And I made up an excuse not to go home over the summer just so they wouldn’t see me.”
By December of 2013, Irwin was ready to show off his incredible efforts. Despite the fact that he had lost a staggering 130 pounds, he said he had felt anxious before coming face-to-face with his stepmom and dad once again.
“When I saw my parents for the first time, I was really nervous. I was shaking, and… it was very surreal,” Irwin said. But he quickly realized that the surprise was worth it when he heard what his parents had to say.
They walked into the house, seemingly unaware that they were being recorded. As Irwin’s dad, Jeff, walked by the staircase, he looked up and greeted his son. “Hey buddy, how are you?” he said, just before realizing what his son had achieved.
“Oh, my god!” Jeff screamed excitedly, seeing that the 25-year-old had shed more than one-third of his bodyweight. His stepmother, Susan, had the same reaction, also shouting, “Oh, my god!” when she saw him come downstairs.
By the time Irwin made it to the first floor, his dad was better able to articulate his thoughts. “I don’t even recognize you. Way to go, buddy! You put your mind to it!” Jeff said as he looked at his slimmer son up close.
It took Irwin’s stepmom a little bit longer to say her piece. After exclaiming, “Holy smokes! Wow!” Susan added, “You don’t even look like Lucas. [You] sound like Lucas. Oh my god, I’m so proud of you!”
With that, the 25-year-old’s nerves likely subsided. But his parents told the Today show just how emotional it had been to see Irwin walk toward them that day, revealing just how hard he’d worked over the past year.
“All of the sudden, down the stairs he came. And he looked fantastic. I was more stunned than anything else. But inside, I was just beaming. I was just… I was over the moon,” Jeff said afterward.
As for Susan, the reveal made her misty – as did a later retelling of the event on the Today show. “Just picturing it in my mind again, it brings back tears to my eyes. I am so proud of him,” she said.
After showing off his hard work, Irwin admitted that he wasn’t quite where he wanted to be. He told the segment reporter, Craig Melvin, that he wanted to lose 20 more pounds and then bulk back up with 20 pounds of muscle.
And, to make his efforts easier, his parents had given him a very special – and perfectly timed – Christmas gift. Jeff and Susan bought Irwin new workout clothes that fit his much more slender frame.
Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News health and diet editor, said Jeff and Susan had shared a “wonderful” moment with Irwin. She said, “They were thrilled for his success, not because he was skinny, but because they saw their son as healthy, as happy and in control.”
Fernstrom had a word of advice for anyone who might want to follow in Irwin’s footsteps. “When you decide to lose weight and put your mind to it, that’s the only key to success. It is only when you decide it’s something important to you that you will get this result,” she said.