Medical emergency motivates couple to lose 538 pounds

Story highlights

Lauren and Justin Shelton lost a combined 538 pounds in 19 months

They go to the gym six days a week and stay active on their day off

They have found support in each other by taking every step of this journey together

CNN  — 

At work one day, IT consultant Justin Shelton suddenly began to feel ill. A few hours later, he was in the emergency room, and doctors told him he might have a kidney infection.

They just needed to run a scan to confirm the diagnosis.

The next words were a cold reality check: The imaging machine could not support his weight.

“They told me, ‘We think you have a kidney infection, but we can’t confirm for sure, so we’re just going to treat it aggressively and hope that’s what it is,’ ” Shelton said.

He was 25 years old and weighed 592 pounds.

Two years earlier, Justin’s wife, Lauren Shelton, had had her own medical scare; her gallbladder had to be removed because of weight-related complications. At her heaviest, Lauren weighed 341 pounds.

Their size made everyday tasks difficult, too. Years ago, Lauren was on a plane, and the seat belt wouldn’t buckle. She was mortified and tried to hide from the flight attendants that she didn’t fit into the seat.

Both Lauren and Justin had been asked not to get on rides at a theme park because of their size.

But Justin’s trip to the emergency room was the final straw. The Jefferson City, Tennessee, couple realized something needed to change.