The gray overcast sky made Deer Creek Coffee seem even cozier. Easily identifying each other, Chris and I sank into well-worn, high backed chairs with steaming drinks taking the chill off our hands. After explaining that he’d found my blog through Tim, from coffee #68, Chris told me how he was inspired to change his life and keep the weight off for good.
“Let’s celebrate with Dominoes pizza because we’re starting tomorrow!” That was a common refrain for Chris and his family. As a kid, he had no idea why he was bigger than all of his friends and they didn’t understand either. “Kids in the neighborhood would say, ‘just don’t eat butterfingers’. They were trying to help…”
As early as 12 years old, Chris would start his day with a visit to the scale. The results were always disheartening. He tried starving himself by eating cereal for breakfast and nothing else, but in the end he only dropped from 230 pounds to 170 pounds and when summer break came… he gained it right back.
Dealing with the reactions of the other kids was hard. One girl pretended to be flirting with him only to tell him that she “admired his rolls of fat”. Despite these harsh comments, Chris was even harder on himself, dieting, exercising, trying anything he could to lose the weight. When he graduated high school, Chris weighed 350 pounds. Breakfast, he told me, consisted of 5 eggs, 5 sausages, 5 bacon, 2 cans of tuna, etc.
The Mental and Physical Toll
Anytime he was able to get his weight down his first reaction was, “It’s a dream come true, I can eat more!” And he did, sometimes ordering two large sodas at the drive through and telling the cashier it was for two people. Things continued this way for years. “Doing it again and again, Aubrey… it was just exhausting, mentally and physically. Gaining it back just took it’s toll.”
Irritable, upset, negative, and with less energy than ever, Chris began to feel desperate. Suicide never directly crossed his mind, because he knew he couldn’t do that to his parents, but he realized that at 45% body fat and 436 pounds, he certainly didn’t value his life.
Chris’ healing wasn’t the quick fix that most of us hope for. He didn’t wake up one day and have the solution to his weight problem. After numerous nutrition classes, workouts, and self-help books he finally realized that he was looking for the answers on the outside, but that this change had to come from within. There was one thing, however, that finally set him on the right path and that was visualizing his own funeral.
Overcoming His Own Stereotypes
For 5 years Chris’ weight hovered around 430 pounds. Working in the mortgage industry in Boston at this time, he was becoming bored and simply going through the motions, and then… he became unemployed. This only compounded his depression and added to his fears that he was constantly being judged by those around him.
After moving back to St. Louis he found himself interviewing with Club Fitness’ in-house personal training company, in 2012. This step took a lot of courage because at the time, he was still 320 pounds. “It was the most exciting interview I’ve ever had because I was passionate. It was the solution of health that I’d been searching for since I was born. I was actually excited to have the interview versus I need this job.”
Now, several years later, Chris loves life. In fact, he has even started his own in-home personal fitness company called I Love Life. Oh and he has a tattoo with the same statement. Now he focuses on health, fitness, nutrition and positivity. “I’m an agent of change.” But, he emphasized, “It’s never a fast transformation and even the transformation itself can change.”
The Wisdom He’d Like to Impart
“It’s just a number,” Chris told me, “If you work really hard to change your fitness and nutrition, your waistline feels better, your clothes fit better, but you gain 10 pounds of muscle, you will be really disheartened by the scale.”
One of the most important pieces of the weight loss puzzle, is learning to handle your issues. “You can’t fix yourself from the outside in. I tried that for 20 years. You have to work on your issues, whatever they may be.”
Chris’ goal was to hit 240 pounds. He’s been well under that number for over a year and a half now and his results have inspired his entire family. His dad was down to 1,200 calories per day, his mom has lost 80 pounds and his brother has lost a lot AND quit drinking.
With at least one life goal under his belt, Chris is working on another, “The next goal is to publish a book called My F Word.”