How One Man Lost 130lbs And Now Coaches Others

My story may sound familiar. I started off like so many others. I had been a big guy my whole life. On the day my fitness journey started, I was 23 years old, and honestly, couldn’t remember a time where I wasn’t big. Heck, the smallest pair of jeans I owned were 36″ waist—which didn’t fit, and hadn’t since 8th grade. But that was my reality, and I had come to accept it. Or rather, I was resigned to my fate.

Efforts to succeed… didn’t.

Throughout my adult life I tried and failed a number of times to lose weight. Nothing really stuck. There were so many factors I could attribute to my lack of progress. There was little health and fitness knowledge and direction, for one, which was an unstable foundation to build my hopes on. Then there was my general laziness and constant procrastination from going after what I really wanted! And of course, there was the ever-pervasive sense of discomfort, inadequacy, and embarrassment I felt when I set foot in a gym, which led to my general lack of motivation to actually do it.

Motivation is a funny thing, though.

I learned, one day, that motivation is not the same thing as needing to do a thing or wanting to do a thing. Motivation is not “I want to lose weight.” It’s what drives that feeling and your actual action. Motivation is different for everyone. For me, it was a deep, powerful inability to remain as I was for another moment. One day—at work—I wore through the inner thigh of yet another pair of pants due to my thighs rubbing as I walked, and something snapped. I simply could no longer be like this anymore—overweight, unhappy in my own skin, uncomfortable, and embarrassed with myself. I had to do something.

And so it began.

My wife (my girlfriend at the time) and I  began working out together. We started at home, in the basement or spare bedroom, with one of those at-home workout DVDs I borrowed from a friend. At the time, I was too embarrassed, intimidated, and overwhelmed to go to an actual gym. So, we did it on our own. We had each other, and we made it work, but I look back now and realize how we made it pretty hard on ourselves. Why didn’t we ask for help? A year later, I found myself 130 lbs. lighter, significantly more confident and comfortable in my body, and I had even become a runner! So the work was definitely worth it. But I learned a lot along the way.

What did we do? What can YOU do?

We did strength training workouts, high-intensity interval training workouts, we ran, and we even did yoga. A balance of ALL these things kept things interesting and helped support our success. We used dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, and even bodyweight to power our workouts.

It wasn’t just workouts though. The other key component was nutrition. We completely changed not just what we ate, but how we thought about food. Food became a fuel source, not a way to pass time or deal with emotions. We cut out things like soda, weaned ourselves off some not-so-great choices, and focused on healthy, whole foods. We didn’t do a crash-course 30, 60, or 90-day challenge, or fad diet. We made small, progressive, lifestyle changes. And ultimately, that’s why we succeeded and why the weight has stayed off over lots more time.

Life is very different today than it was Day 1.

As a result of my transformation, I found a new passion for fitness. I became a runner, and used it as an outlet to push myself, to see just how far I could go. I’ve completed not just marathons, but ultramarathons. I’ve even completed a 100-mile endurance run (yes, all in one shot—29 hours)! I also discovered a newfound passion for helping others navigate their own health and fitness journey. Having been there myself, I knew how hard it could be. I think back to my own fitness journey, and wish it didn’t have to be so hard. All the work, the research, the trial and error, the struggles—it was a lot. And I’ve realized it didn’t have to be that hard. Not if we had reached out to more experienced people along the way. So now, I share my story, and even work as a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness, to do just that. People often feel (or are) alone, but don’t need to be! If I can help ease the journey and answer a few questions for even one person, I know I’ve made my day and theirs.

You have to believe.

There are going to be days it feels like “too much,” “too hard,” or altogether like an insurmountable challenge. In those moments, know that you can do it. I’ve come out the other side successful and can tell you, you can win. Lean on your friends, your family, and a coach to see you through to victory. You’ll get there—in time, with work, and belief.

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10 of the Most Inspiring Success Stories of 2017

We couldn’t ever say one story is “the best.” There are moments, and people, and achievements we are proud of happening all year long! Sometimes it’s a mental victory, beating a long-term physical struggle, a community rallying around someone, or all of the above. Each has their merit. Here are some of our favorites from 2017! Find many more (and submit your own!) inspiring tales at

Marcia before and afterMarcia McDowell

Marcia has officially lost 200 lbs. in one year. But the transition wasn’t quick and easy. Her son’s wedding was what inspired the dramatic lifestyle change. “Their wedding day was beautiful and a few weeks later, we saw the beautiful photos from the photographer. All was fine until I was faced with a picture of my son and I dancing the mother/son dance together. I was in total disgust as I looked at myself in the pictures. Who was this person? Had I really gotten that big?”

Read Marcia’s Story

Lou Maldonado

At his heaviest, Lou Maldonado weighed 540 pounds. An emotional conversation with his 9-year-old son prompted Lou to join Anytime Fitness in Mays Landing, NJ. Gym owner Myke Collazo took a personal interest in Lou and helped him lose 300. Now, Lou is enjoying life to the fullest with all three of children – and golfing with his new friend, Myke.

Karla Pankow

Karla progressAt her heaviest, Karla Pankow weighed 300 pounds. Fast-forward to today, Karla has lost more than 100 pounds. She’s now a firefighter, a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, a Certified Personal Trainer working on her Emergency Medical Technician certification, and she’s incredibly active and much healthier and happier than she’s been in years. How did Karla Pankow accomplish so much? A big part of her turnaround has to do with personal trainer Heather Clark.

Read Karla’s Story

Christine H.

Christina H success“In May of 2016 I stood on the scale for the first time in a long time. My weight was 375 lbs. I was in disbelief that I had let it get so out of hand. I’ve spent the better part of 8-9 yrs over 300 lbs. but never thought I’d be that close to 400 lbs. I made a promise to myself to stop taking advantage of my body and to follow through with a healthy life style for 1 year. That promise has brought me so far, and I committed to a 2nd year, and plan to continue forever.”

Read More of Christine’s Story

Lexi and Danny Reed

When Lexi and Danny Reed got married two years ago, Lexi weighed 485 pounds and Danny weighed 280 pounds. They were doing what a lot of us do — spending their free time relaxing with takeout and TV and not finding time to exercise or eat healthy. Lexi was tired all the time and even got out of breath walking. Finally, the two had had enough.

Lexi and Danny Reed

Watch Their Story

Gerald Yenny

Everyone starts somewhere. For Gerald Yenny, it was a place of pain, too much weight, and a warning from his doctor. With help from personal trainers at the Anytime Fitness gym in Batesburg-Leesville, SC, Gerald has lost a remarkable 150 pounds in less than a year, despite multiple back surgeries that limited his mobility. But the weight-loss pales in comparison to the love and support Gerald received from his Anytime Fitness family when personal tragedy struck.

Heidi & Trainer ClarindaHeidi Johnson

Heidi has lost 150 pounds and hopes to lose another 90. But her weight loss journey is about a LOT more than numbers. After lots of hard work and time with a personal trainer, she’s learned valuable lessons to keep propelling her toward new goals.

Read Heidi’s Story

Jen Frazier after picJen Frazier

When Jen Frazier suddenly lost two loved ones, she was faced with a “huge wake-up call.” She knew she had to change her lifestyle if she wanted to live a long, healthy life and be there for her friends and family. She went from battling high blood pressure to running half-marathons and doing a triathlon. Her journey was anything but easy, but she made some incredible accomplishments along the way, like her bike tour through Tuscany, Italy! Read on for her full story on

Read Jen’s Story

Ashton Parsons

She was barely a year old when Ashton Parsons was first diagnosed with cancer. She survived, but was diagnosed with another form of cancer at age 14. Multiple orthopedic surgeries left Ashton weak and in constant pain. But, with help from a personal trainer at the Anytime Fitness gym in Wake Village, TX, Ashton is now healthier than she’s ever been – and so strong that she competes in powerlifting meets.

Lydia before picLydia Dziubanek

In January 2014 Lydia Dziubanek felt profoundly unhappy. She was overweight and trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship, while raising three young boys. As she struggled with depression, she started having suicidal thoughts. Read the rest of her story on

Read Lydia’s Story

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