The doctor said, "I want you to move, just move, for 15 minutes a day.'"
So that's what he did. Then he joined a health club. But the trainer there told him not to run or go hard until he weighed less than 300 pounds. "So, I went easy for the first 72 pounds," he said.
Once below 300 pounds, McCleery started running 50 paces, then walking 25. Then it was 75 and 10. Then he ran.
He eliminated processed sugars and alcohol from his diet. His waist, once 57 inches, began shrinking.
"There is no doubt this ablation procedure changed his life," said Matt Lewis, McCleery's best friend. "I would get phone calls from Marcus when he was in a fibrillation. You could tell from the tone of his voice, he was just so depressed."
Lewis, who had also started eating healthier and exercising, became active in triathlons. He wanted McCleery to come watch.
"He was starting to get on a healthier track, but he was still very heavy at the time," Lewis said. "I wanted him to come, to see the atmosphere. I said, 'You're going to do this with me next year.'"
McCleery has transformed himself. His 57-inch waist is now 34 inches. Hardly a week goes by that he is not racing, riding or doing something active. His atrial fibrillation has not returned.
McCleery now runs his own business out of his home, and, he said, he hopes to serve as an example to others. He launched a website, Move 15 Minutes a Day (move15minutesaday.com), to share his experience.
The one thing McCleery says he's most thankful for is wellness. "To have a well mind, body and spirit is all I could hope for! I am a better man because of this journey! I am a better friend. I am a better family member."
2.66 million: Estimated number of people in the U.S. in 2010 who had atrial fibrillation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition increases ischemic stroke risk by five times.