For many professional athletes, a personal chef is a luxury. For Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley, it was a necessity.

Fairley, the 13th overall selection of the 2011 NFL draft, reported to camp north of 320 pounds. Then after the first week of preseason, he lost his starting spot as the excess weight hurt his effectiveness.

Fairley stands 6-foot-4 and boasts superb athleticism. Teammate Ndamukong Suh even said Fairley is more "athletically gifted" than he is. But Fairley has been hampered by inconsistency that's linked to his being overweight.

After being demoted, Fairley realized he had to drop some weight and hired a personal chef. And it worked. The chef prepared a week's worth of meals for Fairley and put them in his freezer before the week started. According to Kyle Meinke of MLive, these dishes consisted of meat loaf, baked potatoes, salmon, stir fry and chicken.

That's all it took for Fairley to drop 15 pounds in the remaining three weeks of the preseason, and his improved play got him reinstated as a starter for the Lions' season opener against the New York Giants on Monday.

"Felt real good," Fairley said of seeing his name alongside the starters again. "Preseason, that's when you knock off the rust coming into the season. I just feel like those last three preseason games, got my rest up, and now I'm ready to go for Monday Night Football."

Fairley had declined to hire a personal chef last year, and he ballooned to 320 pounds during the season. Despite playing in 15 games in 2013, as opposed to 13 in 2012, Fairley recorded five fewer total tackles last season (27 in 2012, 22 in 2013). In May the Lions declined to pick up his $5.5 million option for the 2015 campaign, perhaps as motivation for the 26-year-old to shape up.

And that's just what Fairley did. During the past few weeks he brought breakfast and lunch to the Lions facility and ate dinner at home. And perhaps most importantly, he's avoided fast food -- for the most part. Fairley admitted to the Detroit Free Press that he did briefly fall off the wagon last weekend:

“Me and my girl went out and just stopped by McDonald's,” Fairley said.

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