It has been over five years since I first lost 100 pounds and again I found myself looking for clothes to fit me. My closet had plenty to choose from but styles were a couple of years old. My belts were at the last hole or I had already made a couple of new holes. Seeing the latest fashions and styles had me discouraged when I’d order a XXL-tall shirt only to have it fit snug or not at all. Pants and jeans – I couldn’t order anything but plain Jane and from a big and tall store. This story was too familiar. I had to take a look in the mirror and ask myself how I’d gained the weight back? What I realized was, the reason I gained back the weight was not a lack of knowledge – it was emotional. I ate when I was under stress! I had to come to this truth in order to make a lasting change. It was after reading Carla’s book “Claim Your Power” that I finally understood that the need to fill myself was coming from the wrong source. I had made a habit out of using food for comfort and stress relief. Now I was ready for a real change.
A change that would fit my lifestyle and satisfy my appetite.
The turning point was in May 2013 when my brother and his wife took a trip to Florida to visit us. He owns a gym and is very intentional about seeing people through their fitness challenges. He and I were chatting out in the lanai and he encouraged and convinced me to allow him to put me through a 30 minute “fitness assessment” with various performance based skills. Simple stuff like a light jog, a few lunges, some side shuffles, step-ups, bench dips, push-ups, planks and some basic core holds. Three minutes into the “assessment” I was exhausted and about 10 minutes into it I was done. My body had run out of fuel and I simply couldn’t do anymore. I told my brother I hadn’t eaten well that day so I had to stop. He smiled and said “Good job.” I was distraught and but I didn’t have the time to do anything about it. I was lying to myself; I was embarrassed and wanted so much to be fit. I made the mental commitment and was ready to start. I would start Monday… I was always good at starting “Monday.” The Monday commitment never made it until I decided that I was worth it. My daughters needed their dad and my wife deserved a husband that will care for her well into our adult lives.
I believed this but still felt stuck.
August 2013 I stepped onto the scale and not surprisingly it groaned at a whopping 334 pounds. Hmmm, what do I do now? My cholesterol level, blood pressure and triglycerides have been trending upward over the last couple of years and my doctor was contemplating medications. I didn’t want to take any meds so I convinced him to allow me to try to work some weight off on my own and improve my overall health. He agreed.
I was ready to commit but I didn’t want anyone telling me how or what to do. I could do it on my own no problem and I kept telling myself “I’ve got this!” Turns out, another look in the mirror and a lesson in letting go, asking for help and making requests were soon to be a part of my transformation. After three weeks of telling myself to start, I’d still done nothing. Then, I received a photo from my good buddy Tyler. Earlier in the spring I’d gone on an offshore fishing trip with Tyler and Dave. Tyler sent me a picture of us on the boat that day and as I looked at myself in my orange fishing shirt with rod and reel tucked into my side I was flabbergasted! Did Tyler Photoshop the image to make me look like a small hippo? Was he punking me? No, he was concerned. He reached out to me and said, “Let’s go to the gym and lift a few weights, Burnsy.” I thought it’d be fun to hang out with a buddy a couple days a week and drop a few pounds, so we started. We joined LA Fitness and I committed to two evenings a week and one day on the weekend but with the provision that weekends were tough and my time was tight.
The workouts with Tyler were great. He encouraged me to go for an hour each session and to lift for the first half hour and do cardio for the last half hour. The first workout was memorable. We lifted a little light weight so I could work on my form. After thirty minutes we moved to do some cardio. He chose the Stairmaster. We stepped onto it and I stepped off after 6 minutes. That was all I could do; and I struggled to get that much in! Tyler finished the rest of his cardio as I proceeded to tell him why I had no fuel in the tank to complete the workout. Again I was embarrassed. He smiled as I contemplated what I could commit to and over the course of his workout agreed to do cardio on a spin bike and to start at 8 minutes while increasing each session by 1 minute. The next several weeks were tough and I don’t think I ever made a weekend session but before I knew it I was up to almost 20 minutes on the spin bike. It was encouraging to me to add a minute each workout and be able to complete it.
I dropped a few pounds and started to feel a little bit better. At this point I had been talking to a few of my other buddies and soon Charlie and John joined us for our workouts. We’d made a commitment of sorts together to workout 2-3 times per week. We did this for several more weeks. I remember John’s first workout and we were up to 24 minutes on the spin bike. His goal was to hang with us but only made it just over 13 minutes. He was mad; I was tickled pink and proud of him making it that far. He had outdone my first day’s workout! Fast forward a few weeks of two workouts a week we were still doing well. I was down about 18 pounds and had now set a goal weight of 275 pounds. It’s ironic because almost as soon as I verbally stated it to the guys that I had a goal weight, I hit some sort of plateau. Funny Carla talks about this exact thing in her book, she calls it self-sabotage and I was great at that!! I was hovering between 308 and 310 for a few weeks. Was this as fit as I was going to get? After all, I was over 40 now and perhaps that’s where I could maintain.
November rolled around and Carla and I planned a trip to Canada over thanksgiving week to see family. My brother Tom had been keeping in touch with me over the past few months and he asked me to go to his gym and attend his “bootcamp” workouts. I agreed. The coolest part of it was the fact that Cristiana, my oldest daughter, also joined me for the workout. She had some fitness goals she wanted to reach so we went together. Day one workout was brutal! I thought his “assessment” he’d done in May was tough; Compared, it was a cakewalk. I made it through the 60 minute bootcamp and crawled out of the gym and made my way to the car. Wow, that was the toughest workout I’d ever done in my life. I was pushed to my max and totally spent. But, there was something about it that appealed to me. I’d never done any of the exercises before and I was with a group of people all working their butts off and being completely spent at the end of the workout. I liked it; I wanted to go back for more!
The next day I could barely walk let alone make it through a workout. Somehow I was able to work through the muscle soreness and make four more workouts while I was home. Each time I left the gym with not an ounce of energy left. But somehow I felt better throughout the day. This was pretty neat. Each workout was different- fun, tough, challenging, and worked my entire body. I challenged myself and we all encouraged each other. I wasn’t competing with them but we liked to push each other. This was the accountability and encouragement I had been missing to maintain my healthy lifestyle. I didn’t know what to expect each day other than the fact that I’d walk away from it exhausted. I had just gone through my first week of a “crossfit-like” workout.
I was hooked!
We arrived back in Florida after Thanksgiving and I immediately found Crossfit Suncoast. I researched several boxes around the area and settled on Justin’s box because it was smaller and reminded me completely of Tom’s gym back in Canada. I committed to a three month membership so I could see what I could accomplish. The blessing at this point was the fact that Cristiana AND Carla also committed to the box. Sweet! I was so pumped that they’d be joining me. Carla had always wanted to workout together, yet I had not appreciated that I lived with The Fitcoach. Carla eagerly agreed to do the bootcamp workouts three days a week – Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. My brother Tom had been talking with Carla about the types of food I should be eating and after comparing notes they came up with a meal plan for me based off of my personal goals and needs. I had also been researching the many benefits of the Paleo , bulletproff and yeast-free lifestyle which seemed to fit my meal plan and offered great recipes to keep meals exciting.
Just before Christmas I visited my doctor for my yearly physical. Although he was pleased with the few pounds I had lost he was concerned with my triglycerides and cholesterol. He was recommending that I go on some prescription meds for cholesterol (it was 277) and to be careful of the food I ate. He told me I was on my way to having diabetes. Are you kidding me!? Ouch. I had been on meds before in my life for stress and vowed not to go back on any sort of meds when I’d weaned off of them several years ago, so I convinced him to let me continue to workout and eat healthier. He agreed and we set an appointment for 6 months later for a follow up. His goal was for me to lose 15 pounds. I weighed in at 308 pounds that day.
On Feb 19, 2014, I made a decision to eliminate dairy, anything processed, all sugars (except any occurring naturally in food), grains and legumes. We also switched from grain-fed to grass-fed meats. Could this change bring me through my plateau? Yes, yes indeed! For 30 days I ate strict, clean and didn’t deviate. I remember having a slight headache for the first two weeks. Later I found out it was because I eliminated sugar from my daily diet and that sugar is not only addictive but highly toxic to your body.
MY MEAL PLAN
- I ate six times per day.
- A big breakfast! Eggs, bacon, avocado, salsa
- Ultimate PROFIT and veggies for a snack.
- A good size protein portion and fruits and veggies for lunch.
- Ultimate PROFIT and fruit for a snack.
- Lovely grass-fed beef, organic chicken or wild caught fish and veggies and sweet potatoes for dinner.
- More protein before bed/after workout
Its my personal experience that adding in the following supplements had a significant impact on how I felt during my transition. I had great energy, felt fantastic and was never hungry. I was feeding my body optimal nutrition AND fueling it with high quality real whole foods, plenty of water and oxygen.
- It Works Vital Complete Nutrition (1) packet/day (multivitamin, minerals, omega 3)
- Its GREENS (2)/day
- Ultimate PROFIT Superfood Nutrition Shake: (1) before and after a workout on the days I worked out and as a snack before I went to bed.
- Hair, Skin and Nails to help me look as great outside as I feel inside !
I continued to workout three times per week and even threw in a fourth day whenever I could. February came and went. March came and went. I continued to lose weight and my clothes continued to fit better. In fact, some were now even a bit big for me! I had found my routine of a new eating lifestyle, a kick-butt workout three times per week, and a feeling of well-being knowing I was improving my health a little each week. Burpee Monday’s now had me doing the 25 burpees in just under a minute. The workouts still leave me spent but with significant improvements weekly. It’s a blessing and makes me smile to see Carla and Cristiana working out with me each day and also coming along side of me eating clean.
We all worked hard, encouraged each other, competed with ourselves, left it all on the floor and most importantly became more fit each week. I remember when coach Hertz introduced us to “Monday 25 burpees for time.” Flat out 25 burpees as fast as we could. My first 25 were completed in 1:58. That was HARD! Carla, Cris and I were consistent and made the three sessions per week. My weight has been dropping and my clothes fitting better. I was full of energy and hated to miss a session if I ever did have to miss one.
This past week I was at my doctor’s office for my six month follow-up. A week earlier I had given my blood for testing and now I was eagerly awaiting my results. Dr. Quartermain walked in and said with a sense of urgency, “What did you do to your cholesterol?” I was thrown back by the question and replied back, “What do you mean, is that good or bad?” He asked me if I’d used someone else’s blood because my cholesterol level was amazing, my triglycerides were phenomenal and in fact that ALL my blood work was perfect. He couldn’t believe it and was literally jumping for joy!
My cholesterol dropped down to 172 from 272 and I weighed in at 270 pounds! I’m overjoyed!
My journey from August to June has me at a fantastic level of fitness. My clothes that I used to wear are literally falling off me now and to that my wife Carla has been fitting me with new fashion! I can tell you from experience that with a commitment and consistency my life has changed. I look forward to reaching my next goal. I am moving away from “bootcamp” training to crossfit training with a goal to build lean muscle, inspire others to become a product of our products and become even more fit!