Eagles lineman Max Jean-Gilles loses weight the hard way

For some, lap-band surgery and other weight-loss methods are elective in nature. But for others, health concerns present themselves more immediately. So it has been for Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Max Jean-Gilles(notes), who had maxed out at 400 pounds.

"I know I had to lose the weight to stay on the field," Jean-Gilles told AOL Fanhouse. "And I sure didn't want to be 400 pounds -- or more -- after football and then have heart problems and all kinds of health problems. I was close to 400 pounds -- like 398 -- and I thought there was no way I could live like this. I was breathing heavy."

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan recently underwent lap-band surgery, in which the stomach's capacity is reduced by a band, making it impossible for the person who has undergone the procedure to over-eat. But it's believed that Jean-Gilles is the first NFL player to undergo the procedure.

"It's was all my wife's idea actually," Jean-Gilles said. "I thank her for that. She talked about it to (the team). Something that would give me quick results and something that could get me back on the field ASAP. It was all her idea."

The Eagles organization was aware of the surgery, concerned about the effects it might have on Jean-Gilles, and they've made sure that trainer Rick Burkholder is observing Jean-Gilles' progress through the toughest parts of camp.

[Related: Number of 300-pound NFL lineman still ballooning]

On one occasion, his inability to take in enough fluids affected his health. "I was sweating real bad," he said, after collapsing on the field (pictured below). "I kept throwing up. I couldn't hold anything in. I can't really pump in liquids like I want to because my stomach is a little shrunk. So when I drink a little quicker it comes back up. I have to learn how to deal with that."

That's the scary side. On the positive side, Jean-Gilles is down to 345 pounds, and said that his energy has definitely increased. "For the most part, I feel great. I'm bouncing around everywhere I go. Running on the field. I'm the first one out there."

[Photo: Ole Miss walk-on may be the largest football player ever]

Of course, there's the aspect of missing all the food he ate before, but it's worth it for Jean-Gilles to stay the course. For his health, his football career, and for his life.

"I'm just playing football, man," he said in the Fanhouse piece. "I'm not worried about the weight. I got that monkey off my back."

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