The first time Tom Larson posted pictures of himself on Facebook, a light bulb went on in his head and the 26-year-old realized he needed to do something about his weight.
"I really ballooned my senior year at Elk Grove High School," said Larson, an Elk Grove Village resident. "I quit football my senior year. I reached my highest weight in college. The reality is no matter what I think of myself or view myself as, that's the way I'm going to be judged."
A 2005 graduate of Elk Grove High, Larson weighed 353 pounds in January 2007, the start of his sophomore year's second semester at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He vowed then to lose weight and started working out.
Larson lost 150 pounds in the first 18 months and 174 pounds in all. He now weighs about 185 pounds and the story of his weight-loss success was featured in "Men's Health Magazine."
Larson's twin sister, Michelle Larson, saw her brother dropping pounds and began following in his footsteps.
"She was getting competitive" once she saw him losing weight, Larson said.
Michelle Larson joined Weight Watchers. She started out weighing 287 pounds and lost about 100 pounds.
Now both their stories have made it in a national publication.
The Jan. 14 issue of People magazine features the Elk Grove Village siblings on its cover, and a story inside chronicles their journey.
"I knew that no one knows your story unless you share it," Tom said.
Tom now works as a personal trainer with The Exercise Coach, which operates 12 facilities throughout the Chicago area.
"I kind of followed my passion and got a degree in kinesiology," he said.
Michelle, who also graduated from Elk Grove High School in 2005 and later from Roosevelt University in Schaumburg, is working toward a degree in sonography at the College of DuPage. She works in child care at Bright Horizons in Elk Grove Village.
The siblings frequently work out at the Elk Grove Park District Pavilion Fitness.