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Dad loses 30 pounds, climbs Kilimanjaro with teen daughter

  • Story Highlights
  • Bill McGahan felt miserable when his weight peaked at 225 pounds
  • Dreading workouts, he set a goal to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with his daughter
  • He exercised and ate lean meats and raw vegetables to lose 30 pounds
  • McGahan, daughter reached their goal and plan to climb more summits
  • Next Article in Health »
By Jackie Adams
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- From the outside, Bill McGahan looked like he lived a pretty good life.

Bill McGahan

Bill McGahan says he felt horrible, had no energy and snored loudly when he weighed 225 pounds.

He had a great marriage, four beautiful children and a great job in real estate. But the truth of the matter was he felt horrible.

McGahan, who was in his mid-40s, was overweight at 225 pounds. He could barely fit into his clothes; he snored loudly and didn't have the energy to play with his then 12-year-old daughter and 8-year-old triplets.

Bad eating habits, alcohol and a sedentary lifestyle had caught up with McGahan, who said he began to realize he could no longer eat the way he used to in college.

"I was on the see-food diet: What you see is what you eat," said McGahan. "Tons of carbs, pasta, pizza, steak, fries ... all the good stuff."

McGahan knew he needed to change his eating and exercise habits, but he wasn't getting the results he wanted at the gym. There also was something more important than losing weight -- he wanted to be healthy enough to play baseball and spend quality time with his kids.

He hated working out, so instead of focusing on diet and fitness -- he decided to set another goal.

"Fathers who are in their mid-40s sometimes struggle to find things to do with their seventh-grade daughters," said McGahan. "They're just not interested in the same stuff." Video Watch more on Bill McGahan's climb to fitness »

McGahan and his daughter started searching the Internet for something they could do together. After scouring dozens of Web sites, they finally settled on an unusual plan -- to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

"To me that was a great thing because it gave my workouts and my running a purpose," said McGahan. My objective was to get to the top of the mountain and get to the top of that mountain with her ... and have a good experience doing it."

The goal supercharged him into action. He eliminated greasy, fat-laden food from his diet and began eating more healthy cereals, salads, lean meats and raw vegetables.

The 6-foot-1 father started working out with a trainer to build up his body strength. He also began running 25-30 miles a week.

All of his hard work and training paid off. In 2006, McGahan and Sara reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the highest peaks on Earth.

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"We were 100 yards from the top and we knew we were going to make it," McGahan said. "I put my arm around Sara and said, 'You did it, Sara,' and she said, 'No, Dad. We did it together.' "

McGahan said that was one of the greatest moments of his life.

One of the best parts of the trip was getting to know his daughter, McGahan said. He was impressed with her and inspired by her determination.

So what does Sara, now 14, think about all of this?

"I love my dad," said Sara. "He's really funny and I was glad I took the climb with him."

The father-daughter duo have already set their next goal -- to climb seven summits around the world.


In June, he's climbing Mount Rainer with two high school classmates. One month later, he'll scale Mount Elbrus in Russia with his wife and daughter.

"I want to get to these next couple of mountains and I want to do it with her," said McGahan. "I'm not giving up."

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Matt Sloane contributed to this report.

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