Are there bullies in the gym

700 pound online bully is transforming his life with the help of those he bullied

Weighing around 700 pounds, Jesse Shand could hardly get up, let alone leave his house.

So he spent his days and nights as an internet bully, writing gruesome messages to strangers on online forums hidden behind his computer screen.

It sounds ironic - an overweight hermit bullying, not bullied - but for Shand, 28, it was a "coping mechanism", a way of attacking people before they attacked him.

"When you're actively trying to bring people down and get negative attention, something is almost always reflected in your own life," he told TODAY.com.

His attacks were accidental because they made inappropriate comments on women on a feminist website to mock gamers for feeling “too poor” to buy the latest Xbox or PlayStation console.

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"The thing about trolling is that it's easy to part with - you don't see your victims, you don't see what it does to them," Shand said. "It's easy to forget that these are people."

Today, Shand, who lives in Novi, Michigan, is a new man: he weighs 260 pounds and goes to the gym at 4:30 a.m. every morning before going to his IT job, which is the first time in years.

Interestingly, the people who helped him change his life came from one of the forums he ran on Trolls: BodyBuilding.com, a site known for having a strong online community, Shand said.

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It started with a thread he made in May 2013, entitled “Ask the Fattest Man on This Page”.

It was Shand's insincere response to a forum monitor who complained that Shand's profile wasn't showing his real picture, just an avatar violating one of the site's rules.

“I kind of said the thread, okay, you want the real me? This is the real me, ”said Shand. “It ended up exploding. It became very popular. People tried to believe that I could lose weight. "

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Sure, there have been a few nasty comments - Shand expects them - but he didn't expect everyone to be helpful.

When he revealed that he hadn't bathed in two years because it didn't fit in the shower and said that he "sometimes used baby wipes" but lived mostly in his own filth, a user sent him a children's pool and an outdoor shower connected a hose.

"They started sending all sorts of things," Shand said. “Exercise bands. Dumbbells. Things I would need to get started. "

"They kind of shaped it for my situation," he added. “Because I couldn't really stand, they said I could just freak out and probably lose weight. I could dance sitting down. They gave me exercises while sitting.

“I told them what I was going to eat and they would tell me how to shave a few hundred calories. They were small steps that I could actually take. "

Soon enough he began to lose weight and was finally able to leave the house to see a doctor, where the scale showed he weighed 653 pounds.

Surprisingly, he had no major health concerns: "I was very lucky in this regard."

Shand continued doing the little exercises like running laps from the kitchen to the living room, first five at a time and then ten, and he built himself up to do outdoor exercises as his weight subsided.

Now at 260 pounds, Shand says he wants to lose another 40 pounds before having surgery to remove the extra skin, a procedure he is currently trying to raise money to fund.

"I can't believe it wasn't until 2013 when I hadn't left the house in years," he said. “Now I ride my bike, I go to the gym, I work, I play racquetball at night. I swim. I go to parties. "

He recently went to an amusement park where he got to sit on the rides for the first time in years: "It was amazing."

Shand also gives to the community that has helped him by writing inspirational messages to other people who want to lose weight and seek help online.

"I still speak to all of [the forum]," he said. “And I try to help other people. So I can make up for some of the negativity that I have spread. "