For my regular readers you know that I like to feature success stories on this blog. The biggest reason is that I believe that I wouldn't be successful if I wasn't surrounding myself with others who were being successful. I'd be silly not to share these stories with everyone else. I have decided to make this a permanent monthly blog post, "transformation of the month", with the first success story being another Biggest Winner participant, Stuart Fraser. You may remember Lisa's story a few months ago, this is her husband and his guys perspective on weight loss journey. Truly an amazing person and has one of the best attitudes every, which is part of why he has been successful, we're all very proud of you Stuart.
How long have you struggled with weight?
Wow, what a question. I mean obvious given what this program is about but that’s the sort of thing I generally reply to in conversation with a joke like “Having children ruined my body” but really in writing I have to be honest and say I think I’ve struggled my whole life, or at least I’ve always seen myself as fat, even when I was young and played sports. I was always a bit chubby or 10-20 pounds overweight but around 20/25 years ago (right after I acquired children) I started gaining significantly and it was just a steady climb from there.
The demands of career and family took their toll. I worked long hours and spent my off time trying to make life work for my kids and others in my family. What I put on the back burner, (fully voluntarily by the way), was what worked for me personally. I stopped playing sports and looking after myself and spent more time indulging in various forms of slow suicide, disguised as self-care. This eventually of course led to depression about my life, health and weight, but it was nothing 3 beers and a medium pizza all to myself late at night wouldn’t fix. This cyclical behaviour became my idea of doing something that “worked” for me.
What was your "ah ha" moment that got you to join Biggest Winners?
For years I had suffered from a whole suite of physical issues, arthritis, bad joints, bad neck, bad shoulders, back ache, asthma and most significantly Ulcerative Colitis. This last one has landed me in the hospital a few times and put me on medical leave twice. They don’t know what causes it but it is certainly aggravated by diet and level of health. In fact for symptom relief they advocate a fitness program and diet control. I also knew, deep down inside me that a lot of the other symptoms would be less if I was more active but hey why admit that out loud.
So I was fully aware of my need to do something about my health but I was doing my best impression of Tutankhamen… King of De-Nile. I drank, I smoked and I ate crap like it was going out of style.
I can’t say there was really an “ah ha” moment for me, or at least that I noticed. What I can say however, is that there was inspiration and that came in the form of my lovely wife, Lisa. We had both talked for some time about our desire to be more active and to live healthier lives but I swear I would have never started down this road without her determination and courage. While I had previously been athletic and active in my younger years, Lisa had never played sports or done the kind of physical activities that I had done, yet it was she who pushed through our collective fear / inertia and got things going. Watching her transformation led me to realize how much I wanted that for myself too. I am truly grateful to her for her courage, dedication and honesty. Thank you my love.
What is the biggest, non-physical, change that you have noticed in yourself?
Happiness. I think I had been fairly depressed and “stuck” for ages, years really. It’s the sort of thing that creeps up on you and you don’t realize it. I think I lost myself bit by bit over the years and to be honest I’m rather enjoying discovering me again. There seems to be a long way to go so at least I know I’ll have that entertainment for some time to come
What is the biggest physical change that you have noticed in yourself?
90% of all my other aches and pains, that I would go weekly (and sometimes twice weekly) for physio and massage therapy to try and relieve have gone away. The last time I went for a massage was in February I think and that was more just for fun.
Also I have way more energy and pure physical ability. When I was young I walked everywhere. As an example, in my mid 20’s I lived in Vancouver near Stanley Park. I was unemployed there and would walk to UBC and back for something to do; and I enjoyed it. That went away slowly to the point where I’d take my car to go a couple of blocks. Now my energy level and desire to “hoof it” are back and I’m really enjoying it.
Since you are in the program with your wife, how does working out together affect your relationship? Are you competitive with each other?
Ultimately it has most certainly brought us closer together. I mentioned the inspiration part already; that of course is a good thing. Interestingly, Lisa and I are both highly competitive people, yet when it comes to this program I think we are anything but. I know she is massively supportive of me and I hope I am the same for her; at least I do try to be. There is most certainly a playful competitiveness when we’re at the gym at times, but it’s not the context in which we do this. Besides, we both know I’m better.
At home, what do the two of you do to support each other in staying accountable and making it to workouts?
This is very interesting as it has changed over time but it has always been what I would call tough love. I would characterize that as being willing to say to each other what you really think but in a loving non-judgemental way. That often sounds something like: “Wow, your day was certainly a big bag of poo for sure. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I think you’d feel lots better if you went to the workout but I get it if you just don’t want to do it today; I’m still going though.” (Ok I’m paraphrasing an idyllic situation but you get the idea)
I think that’s a pretty good approach, but it wasn’t always like that. I joined the program when Lisa had been in it for 9 months already. She was approaching her goal weight and was very gung ho about it all. I on the other hand wanted what she had but I was very confronted by it as well so I would often get quite angry and conflicted internally when it came time to go to the workout. I know I spewed some of that onto her at times when I first started which often met with a mixed reaction, (understandably) but I do have to say for the most part she was pretty supportive of how I felt, even when how I felt was just some lame excuse why I didn’t want to go.
Over time of course that changed and now the support flows liberally both ways. In truth we generally both look forward to the workouts and are glad to go. I never come out of a workout thinking, gee I wish I hadn’t come. I am in fact very empowered and energized by them. Lisa would say the same.
Looking forward I believe there will be other challenges for sure. Things like what Michele call’s “skinny girl syndrome” (Hey I can do skinny girl), and plenty of others too but I do believe we have what it takes to work through it together.
What was the most meaningful milestone that you have reached in this program?
There are in fact several, but I’ll go with this one as I think it is representative of the others:
Just as we were finishing what was I think my third workout ever in the program, one of the trainers said that annoying trainer thing: “Do you feel good?” and I looked at them and said in total disbelief of their question: “There is no way that I could ever equate how I feel right now with the word ‘good’. I am glad I made myself work out. I am glad it is over, but this is pretty damn far from ‘good’”, and they said “That will change”, in that annoying “you’ll see kind of voice”… and of course it did change! I just didn’t notice when it did. Somewhere along the way I began to find myself again, because it wasn’t just my inner athlete that was buried under 90 pounds of excess fat, but it was the inner me too, and that is a far more valuable discovery. So now it’s not annoying at all and when one of the trainers asks “Do you feel good?” my answer is “Hell Ya!” (and I still laugh at myself every time).
Anything else you want to share...
First off, a gratifying and meaningful experience happened in the last month. I am still in touch from time to time with my closest childhood friend. He and I were inseparable from about age 5 until our early 20’s and I’ve always thought of him as a brother really. He attended Lisa and my wedding 5 years ago and we hadn’t seen each other in the flesh since. On Thursday night, the phone rang and it was him. He was in town and could he drop by. Now THAT was an awesome experience and I was very proud of both myself and Lisa. I think when you get a major reaction from someone you care about it has far more depth and meaning than from people you don’t really know.
Second, the people in this program are amazing, both trainers and participants. They inspire me and brighten my life every time I’m around them, so thank you to everyone involved in BW for your courage, dedication and support. It is a huge privilege to work through all of this with you.
Third, this program has been an amazing experience so far and I’m not done yet, which is kind of exciting. It has freed me from physical and emotional barriers that were ruining my day to day life and slowly killing me, or rather I should say through my participation in this program I am finding within myself the strength and determination to shape my life again because like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. My favorite Michele Shorter quote: “The only thing stopping you from achieving your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself why you can’t do it”. Nuff said.
And that’s all I have to say about that. (sound like Forest Gump).
Stuart, thank you for taking the time to be so open and honest, and also for sharing a long hidden "before" picture, check this out this is Stuart at his heaviest weight of 260 pounds...
Wowsers (sound like Inspector Gadget) Stuart - look at how far you've come. Here he is now at 195, you can just see the happiness coming from his body. Stuart tells me his goal weight is 170 and he's still going strong.
Want to see results like this for yourself? Come sign up for one month of unlimited classes at BDHQ before August 4th and it is only $49 for new clients. Success doesn't just happen, you have to work every single day to improve yourself and work to what you want. Stuart along with a growing list of other success stories has proved this day after day. Makes me proud to be part of such an amazing community.