Jared Rigdon is feeling quite a bit thinner these days, but his wallet just got much fatter.
The 19-year-old from Bluffton traded 100 pounds for $1,000 -- a pretty good deal, he said.
But even more, his transformation has put future goals in reach.
"My life is not on hold anymore," said Rigdon, who graduated high school in May. "Not only can I function again, but I know that I can do anything I set my mind to."
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When Rigdon began working out at Powerhouse Gym in greater Bluffton last year, he had no clue he would lose so much weight, let alone win the fitness center's second Biggest Loser contest.
A medical condition -- later discovered to be heavy metal toxicity -- forced Rigdon to leave Bluffton High School, leave the Junior ROTC program and leave the sports he participated in. In the two years it took doctors to determine the cause of Rigdon's illness, he was home-schooled and told not to exert himself.
Rigdon has always been a big kid, standing at 6 feet 5 inches, but the pounds started to pile up because he couldn't workout.
Weighing in at 385 pounds in August at his heaviest and having recently gotten his metal poisoning under control, Rigdon knew it was time for a change.
After joining the gym, he began working with head trainer Chris Hobbs.
Hobbs helped Rigdon develop an eating plan and showed him the best exercises to start his weight-loss journey. When the Biggest Loser contest came up in February, Rigdon had already lost about 50 pounds.
Gym manager Terri Reiff and Hobbs encouraged Rigdon to join. He was competing against about 35 other people and was the youngest in the contest, Reiff said.
"It's just such a big transformation, especially for someone who is 19," she said. "He has opened so many doors for himself, and I have used his story to tell other members that if a 19-year-old can do it then they can do it, too."
It wasn't always easy, Rigdon said. It was difficult to stay on track, not skimp on workouts and get used to a new meal plan and portion sizes. His one cheat item every now and then is a bowl of fried rice, he said.
Hobbs said he always knew Ridgon had it in him.
"He was almost shocked when he saw the first few pounds come off, and from there he was off," Hobbs said. "I told him he didn't have to do it all at once, that he could do it little by little, a step at a time, and before you know it, he's lost 100 pounds."
When Rigdon weighed in May 29 at the end of the contest, he was down to 278 pounds.
He was "stunned" when Reiff told him he'd won and was going to be $1,000 richer, he said. Rigdon plans to use the money to fix the air conditioning in his car or save up for a new one.
To lose the weight, Rigdon did cardio exercises every day, and his favorite exercise was lifting free weights, he said.
Rigdon said that, without a doubt, he plans to keep up his new healthy lifestyle and continue to build on what he's accomplished, hoping to get down to his goal of about 250 pounds.
Even more, Rigdon said he now believes his goal of serving in the Navy is a possibility -- something that seemed unreachable before.
"As the contest was going on and I saw the weight I'd lost, I was feeling good and thought even if I didn't win, I was winning for myself," Rigdon said. "But doing this has really put things within reach."