This is a story of a journey that began a long time ago. I’m not calling this my “success” story because at this time, I don’t think of myself as being “successful,” but the program is. What you see in the photo at the bottom of this page is a guy who has come a long way from the picture above, but I’m not where I want to be YET. My story is still in progress.
On several occasions in the past, I had lost weight. When I was in 9th grade, I started my first official program when I joined Weight Watchers. That was the last time I could fit into jeans that weren’t in the “big and tall” section, or nowadays, the sizes that you have to pay extra money for. When I was young, I wore “husky” clothes. When looking at my elementary pictures, the change happened somewhere between 1st grade and 4th grade. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I started packing on weight.
I tried making my own program after taking a few college courses that got me thinking more clearly about my daily energy needs. I learned that our bodies burn only so much energy (calories) a day. So I figured out a formula where I took in less than the daily recommendations. I lost weight and thought I was doing great. Then a death in the family took me out of my element, and I never went back. Believe me, I tried several times, but it never seemed to work out.
A few years and several fad diets later, I still hadn’t made progress. In fact, there was a lot of one step forward and two steps back, or should I say one pound down and two pounds up. Not even the death of my own mother that was health/weight related snapped me out of my downward spiral. Yes, men are insecure about our bodies too! On top of that, trying unsuccessfully to have a baby for 10 out of the 15 years that my wife and I were married didn’t help. Later, I got diagnosed with High Blood Pressure and Sleep Apnea, which I just excused as signs of getting older.
My turning point came when something I never thought would happen, finally became a reality. We got the news in early 2014 that we were expecting! My baby boy was born in September and what they say about the immediate change in priorities hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m now responsible for the health and well being of this little baby. It’s my job to make sure he grows up safe and healthy! We knew before he was born that there was a good chance he would be born with trisomy-21 (Down’s Syndrome). However, it isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago. There’s a good chance that he could outlive us. We knew we needed to prepare for that. More importantly, I wanted to ensure that I was around for as much of his life as possible. With the way I was going, I’d be lucky to see him graduate from High School.
So in January of 2015 (four months since my son was born) I started trying to get healthy again. Then I saw an ad on Facebook for Applied Fitness Solutions, this place opening up in Plymouth. I wanted to do something different. I thought about getting a personal trainer, but could I afford it? The ad caught my eye because it said the guidance from a degreed fitness coach was included in the program. I knew I needed the external accountability, in fact I tried that approach before with friends, but your friend can’t be the person to be “on you” about something like this, unless you don’t want to be friends for long (sorry Kevin).
I had been going back and forth with Nate (the intake manager) while the Plymouth location was being built. He set me up to visit the Ann Arbor office for a consultation so I could get a sense for what the program was like in person. I remember driving out and meeting with a young guy there named Corbin. It was strange because Corbin kept asking me if I thought this was something that would be good for me. Strange in the way that he didn’t give me the typical: “Hey you want to lose weight, you walked in our door, sign up and give us your money!” He seemed to actually care about helping me. He listened! I remember walking away thinking that. “Wow, that guy actually listened.”
In early February the Plymouth location finally opened and I met my trainer Devin for the first time. I was given the plan, the calorie goals, and most importantly Devin’s oversight. That was it. Just be within 100 calories of the limit every day and get the exercise in. I had tracked my calories in the past, and was actually currently tracking. By the time I had met with Devin, I was already down about 10 pounds for the year, but I was looking for a better accountability system rather than the Weight Loss challenge I was doing at work.
A few days after my initial meeting with Devin the classes started. It was the first week the Plymouth location was open (yep, I’m a “founding member” haha). To be honest, in my first class I thought I was going to die. I kept thinking, “It’s not going to be good for business to have an ambulance outside during their first week open!” The workout was MUCH different than anything I had done before, and then the day after I was kind of sore. Then the 2nd day I was even MORE sore. I had worked out before, and even lifted some, so I knew about DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and what pain was approaching.
Then about 3 weeks into it, I went on vacation. Not just any vacation, Disney World. People often wonder why they call it the Magic Kingdom. Here’s the truth: The magic of Disney is you can walk 8 miles a day, sweat like crazy, and GAIN weight! However, this time would be different. I had a plan and I had a limit on a daily basis. Yes, I went to Disney. Yes, I food logged while there. Yes, I walked an average of about 8 miles a day. However, I didn’t experience the true magic of Disney! For the first time in many years of traveling there, I went to Disney World and lost weight. Some good magic had finally occurred!
Fast forward to now. After many hours at AFS and many workouts completed, it has been 10 months since I’ve started this program. I’m down over 50 pounds (a threshold that had always eluded me). In the past, it wasn’t hard for me to drop half of that in 3 months, stall and stop. That’s why I say that my journey continues and that this is more of a progress report and not necessarily a “success”. I don’t consider myself a success at this point, but I want to point out the success of this program, because it works.
If new clients see me in class and ask how long I’ve been going, I don’t want them to think it doesn’t work because they see me now (still not “ripped” after going for a year). But really, if they only knew me when I started, they would know how successful this program is as long as you put the effort into it. It’s not an overnight thing. For me, it’s not even an over year thing, but if we can learn anything from The Tortoise and The Hare, slow and steady wins the race.
Great story Paul! Keep moving forward, that beautiful baby boy needs you!
Read Paul’s Q&A Success Story
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