Greg (Owner FT Westford): How long have you been here at Fitness Together?
(Darwin Westford Client) Just about ten months.
Can you share with me what your weight was back then?
The day before I came into Fitness Together I went to the Doctor and I had topped off at 354 pounds.
So it’s been roughly ten plus months, everyone wants to know, what do you weigh as of today?
The last time I weighed in I was 251 so I’m down 103 pounds.*
I haven’t lost inches, I’ve lost feet.*
What was the defining moment for you, what was is that finally made you say “that’s it I’ve had enough”?
There were a couple of things. Sometimes I would go days or even weeks when I could not sleep. But I was so tired from carrying around so much weight, I had no energy. I could never feel not tired.
I went to visit my mother at Thanksgiving and I flew my younger brother up. My brother was always the chubby kid and I was always the skinny kid, I met him at the airport and he looked at me and said ”Damn! What happened to you”? He thought he was fat, but he weighed 30 pounds less than me, and he’s 5 inches taller.
That’s when I knew it was time to do something.
What was the most difficult thing for you about being heavy?
A couple of things, one was that I was in denial and I felt out of control about my weight. I had come to accept that this is how I am and this is how it’s going to be. It was the helplessness that bothered me. Grandpa was big and fat, so I take after him and will be just like him. He made it to 86, so I’ll be alright. It’s just genetics and there’s nothing I can do about it.
I can also remember that my daughter was always embarrassed by me. I would be on the sidelines watching her soccer games, and I was the big huge fat guy. I was loud and I was big so people were afraid of me. I had that in my head but even that still wasn’t enough to get me to do anything about it.
As I started to lose weight people started to take me more seriously. People at work who had never spoken to me before all of a sudden started talking to me. Before I was invisible but when I started to lose weight people took me more seriously as a person and as professional.
What’s the most significant difference in your life since you have lost all the weight?
I feel like time is going backwards, I’m in my mid forties and I feel like I did when I was in my twenties. I have more energy, more stamina. I feel so good now that I stopped using an alarm clock. I just jump out of bed in the morning. It used to take dynamite to get me out of bed when I did sleep. Most importantly my wife and kids are proud of me. My wife will say to me” I can’t believe you have done all this.
It’s a good feeling isn’t it?
It is and honestly I didn’t know I had it in me, but I do, and things that used to be challenging aren’t anymore.
It’s also nice when I get on a plane and I don’t have to ask for the seatbelt extender or I don’t have to worry about which seat I’m going to get. Now it doesn’t matter. Now I’m not the guy no one wants to sit next to. Now I’m worried who’s going to sit next to me.
What do you have to say to those people who always say “I would love to work out but I just don’t have the time”.
Looking back to before I came to FT I had plenty of time to sit on my butt and watch TV or play on the computer and basically do a whole lot of nothing.
I was just avoiding it.
You can always find the time. I make the time to come in and do my workout or if I go running on my own it’s only 45 minutes, it’s only an hour it’s only an hour and a half.
You can find the time and for me I didn’t have to look that hard. I’ve made the time.
I have a family, I have a job, and I just tell people “I have to go to the gym now”. It’s time to leave.
I’ve decided it’s important for me to do this because if I don’t I know what’s going to happen, so I’ve made it a priority.
Tell me about a typical day of eating before this amazing transformation and then tell me what your nutrition is like now?
Sure that’s easy. I remember those days well.
A typical day. I would get out of bed, have a cup of coffee or maybe 2 then hit Dunkin Donuts on the way to work, get another coffee and a sausage egg and cheese croissant or sometimes I would just skip breakfast.
Lunch would be either Wendy’s, McDonalds or Burger King.
My Wendy’s meal would be 5 Jr cheeseburgers a large fry and a large drink.
McDonalds would be 4 double cheeseburgers or 2 double quarter pounders large fry and a large drink.
Burger King would be 2 double whoppers a large fry and a large drink.
Or I would go to the all you can eat Chinese or Indian buffets. That’s lunch.
Then it’s coffee all afternoon, head home for dinner which would be 3 more hamburgers or 4 or 5 hot dogs or a big piece of steak or a huge plate of pasta, garlic bread and 2-3 glasses of whole milk. I might see a vegetable occasionally, but never a salad!
Then around 10 or 11 out would come 2 peanut butter sandwiches, more milk or a roll of Oreos or a bag of M&M’s.
That’s how I ate every day since I was a teenager.
And now a typical day is what?
My classic breakfast is a cup of egg beaters, whole wheat bagel, 3 slices of turkey bacon, a cup of coffee and maybe a glass of orange juice.
Snack is a banana and some yogurt or a small can of fruit cocktail.
Lunch might be a turkey and swiss low fat wrap and maybe some low fat soup.
Afternoon snack might be some mixed fruit.
Dinner might be turkey tacos with ground turkey, non-fat cheese, black beans and a salad and if I’m still up I might have a small bag of popcorn but normally I don’t get that far.
So it sounds like you’re starving yourself right?
No absolutely not.
That’s what attracted me to this program.
I checked a few things out and I talked to my brother who had lap band surgery. I thought about that but he told me he wasn’t having any success.
I had stayed with him for a few days and I got to watch him eat with the lap band and then I got to watch him throw up.
He didn’t know if he ate something if it would make him throw up. He didn’t know if he could keep it down.
If he ate too much he would throw up or if he ate too fast he would throw up.
There was probably a 50% chance every time he ate he would throw up.
The one thing he could eat and he found out he could eat a lot of was ice cream.
He was beating the lap band with ice cream.
That told me there is no short cut.
My brother is a living example of how to defeat it.
I would be pureeing my burgers if I could.
I also went to the Dr and he wanted to set me up with a nutrionist and put me on a special diet.
I’m thinking I travel 40 to 50% of the time, I need something I can eat when I’m in Japan.
I did the fad diets and they worked for a while but inevitably all the weight came back and then some.
I tried diet alone and failed, I tried exercise alone and failed and surgery wasn’t the answer.
Its funny, I never ate salad and all these programs had me on salad, what am I a bunny rabbit? If God had wanted me to be a rabbit, he’d have given me long ears and a poofy tail….
Now I’m eating salads. In fact, the only one who rivals my salad consumption now is the Guinea Pig. My wife took a picture of me eating a salad and sent it to my mother. She says to my mom “you tried to get him to eat salad. I tried to get him to eat salad and nothing. But look what those people at Fitness Together got him to do.
It’s the combination of diet, exercise and guidance.
Well yes, its diet, exercise and the magic pill right?
Yeah right. There is no shortcut, no quick answer.
The answer is diet and exercise done right. I’ve come to understand and accept that.
Let’s talk about the future for you. You have lost 103 pound’s, we still have some work to do.
What’s your ultimate goal and I don’t mean weight wise either.
I do want to lose another 20-30 pounds but ultimately I want to be around to harass my grandchildren. (or grandhorses for my horse riding crazy daughter). I told my wife, don’t spend the insurance money quite yet.
Maybe a road race, a 5k would be kind of cool, ask me around 4.5k how cool it is though.
I want to learn how to make my peace with food.
So for the longest time you kept telling yourself it wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t that bad.
Sure, if my pants didn’t fit any more I would just by some new ones. If my suits didn’t fit I could always find another one, a bigger one.
I was just enabling myself and people around me were enabling me also.
I didn’t know any better.
I would tell people I’ve been doing this for years, I’ll be fine.
So you didn’t think there was anything wrong with the way you were eating?
I wrote it off as genetics. It was normal in my family. I’m from Michigan, the land of 350+ pound lineman. Where I’m from, even at my biggest, I was a small to average sized guy. It’s just who we are. Even though Mom tried to teach us how to eat right, she was working too, and we ended up on our own to prepare our meals a lot. We got a lot of Banquet Fried Chicken or hot dogs, or Pot Pies or whatever else we could make when we were 15 or that Mom could defrost and microwave quickly.
One final question. Let’s say you get on a plane tomorrow and you walk down the aisle and you find your seat is right next to the old you. You sit down, turn to yourself and say what?
I would tell the old me, “you don’t have to feel that way, there’s a better way to live and there’s a way to get there, it’s going to take some work but if you do it you’re going to be 10,000 times happier than you are eating at McDonalds and living the way you’re living.
There’s a path for you so that you don’t need to be uncomfortable in your own skin.
If I could go back in time I would just say “hey dude straighten your life out, you’re headed for a train wreck get off the train. This is how you do it and it’s not that hard.”
For me honestly it didn’t take that much for me to change my life it was actually very simple, astoundingly simple but nobody ever showed me the way.
I was lost.
I’ll never go back to the way I was before. I couldn’t face myself or my family. I’m now too fit to fail, and I really like the feeling. It’s made me a better father, a better person, a better husband; it’s changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.