You may have read about the first leg of my weight loss journey on the RunKeeper blog. I wanted to take this time to update you on my progress (I’m up to 390 pounds lost!) and also dig a bit more into the tools that helped me on my journey: MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper.
Changing My Life
On October 13, 2012, I decided to change my life. I was 30 years old and living at home with my parents. I sat in the basement playing video games all day and ate nothing but fast food. I was an alcoholic, drinking a fifth of vodka mixed with soda each night. I had become morbidly obese, topping out at 625 pounds, and was consuming over 7000 calories per day. Depression had taken over my life, I dropped out of college and worked one dead end job after another.
One day I began playing a game called Draw Something and was randomly matched up with a woman named Jackie Eastham in London, England. We immediately got along and began to develop an online friendship, later through Facebook and eventually video chat on Skype. I didn’t tell her how big I was and never told her that I was an alcoholic. My depression bottomed out and I decided to tell her everything one day. I expected sympathy from her and got exactly the opposite. I found out that she had a disease called Myotonic Dystrophy and she has to stay active and healthy in order to keep the symptoms at bay. She said that I was ‘pissing my life up the wall’ and that there were so many people out there that are fighting to stay alive and then there was me, completely throwing it away. She had become a close friend to me and I was afraid of losing her. It turns out, this was exactly what I needed to hear.
Developing New Habits
That day, October 13, 2012, I quit drinking cold-turkey. It took me a couple of weeks to get over the withdrawals and I began to eat healthier. I changed my eating habits little by little and began to count calories using the MyFitnessPal app. I found it easy to use and best of all; it was free! I found out how much salt and sugar I was consuming daily by inputting my meals into the app. I used it to lower my sodium intake and immediately my weight started to go down. I lost 100 pounds in the first three months! That averaged out to just over a pound a day. I later found out that most of it was water weight and by getting rid of the salt, I began to deflate like a balloon!
Once I had a good grasp on my eating habits, at Jackie’s urging, I started to exercise. I couldn’t do much at first and I decided to approach it practically. I woke up a little early and walked in place for five minutes every morning. Once I was comfortable, I began to add to it a minute at a time, sometimes a few minutes until I was up to one hour every morning. Jackie had once said to me that I would take to exercise like a fish to water. She couldn’t have been more right.
I was now hooked on exercise and I found the endorphins addictive. Eventually, I graduated to walking outside, and I was too bashful to do it during the day because I didn’t want the neighbors to see, so I woke up before the sun rose and walked in the dark. At first I could only make it halfway down the street and back. It was a bit painful on my knees and feet, so I could only do a little at a time. Eventually, I was walking 5 miles every morning. I also began cycling and was hooked on that as well.
I wanted to track my distances so I could get an idea how many calories I was burning. Once again, I looked up free apps and came across RunKeeper. I found that I could enter my height and weight while the app tracked my speed and distance. I began to log my eating, exercise and weight loss using both. I found that I had an obsessive personality and before I used it for my drinking. Now I used my obsessiveness to help keep me on track to getting healthier.
Two Years Later
18 months later, I had lost 390 pounds—and haven’t looked back. I never ran a mile in my life and I waited until I was 31 to do it. I ran my first 5k on Thanksgiving morning last year, and have run several 5k’s and 10k’s throughout the year. This Sunday, October 19th, I will be running my first half-marathon in Detroit.
Jackie is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I feel that she saved my life. I don’t think I’d be around today if it weren’t for our chance meeting on Draw Something. Who’d have thought that a random internet relationship could evolve and change a life, but it did to me!
In less than two years, I’ve gone from 625 pounds to 235 pounds. I’ve gone from a size 60 waist to a size 38. I’ve gone from never being out of the country to flying to London and also Paris. I’ve gone from barely being able to climb a flight of stairs to climbing the Eiffel Tower. I’ve gone from walking in place 5 minutes to running a half-marathon.
Jackie and I now run a Facebook weight loss support group with thousands of members from around the globe (and soon will have a website at team383.com). Now that I have my life under control, we hope to reach out and help others. I have also begun to do motivational speaking.
You never know what kind of curve balls that life is going to throw. All I can say is, never give up, because inspiration can be right around the corner. Keep your eyes open and your head up. It’s never too late to turn your life around!
I just celebrated my second birthday, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Brian Flemming now lives a happy, healthy life and looks forward to even more accomplishments in the future!