Medical costs after 390lb loss!!!
Over the last year and a half Brian has lost an amazing amount of weight through good old fashion determination, healthy eating and exercise (read his story below). He is looking to cover medical costs relating to his weight loss such as skin reduction surgery and with all his followers and supporters I know we can help him with this. We are all so proud of him. Brian has become incredibly athletic through walking, biking to work and running every chance he gets. Every 5k he runs he smashes his previous time. He doesn't let anything hold him back, including excess skin/medical issues. He has become a mentor and motivator to many throughout his journey and plans to continue paying it forward in the future with the hopes of going back to school to become a therapist specializing in weight loss, depression and anxiety. If we manage to exceed Brian's goal he has graciously offered to donate funds to Muscular Dystrophy charities in honor of his mentor.
As of August 2012, I was at the heaviest I'd ever been"”625lbs. I was an alcoholic (drank around a fifth of vodka mixed with a liter of pop every night) and was addicted to fast food. I am 6'2"³ and was still able to walk around (with a good deal of difficulty). My parents had no idea how bad it had gotten because I kept it a secret. I was dealing with depression as well and ended up dropping out of college. I have had a recurring cellulitis infection in my legs and was also borderline diabetic. I also had very high blood pressure that was not being controlled at all.
My typical fast food meal was a double cheese burger with a large pop and large fries. That usually wasn't enough, so I would have chicken nuggets with it as well. I also ate Arby's frequently. Large roast beef sandwich, large curly fries and drink, and a side of mozzarella sticks. I ate fast food every day. I look back now and estimate that I was consuming around 4000 to 5000 calories per day.
I also sat around all day playing video games. I typically played for four to five hours per day along with watching TV. It seemed to be a good distraction to pass the time between meals and drinking binges. Sometime around August of that year, I began playing Draw Something on my tablet. I picked a random match with a woman named Jackie who lived in London, England. We got along quite well despite my depression and frequent mood changes due to alcoholism. I was immediately attracted to her. In October 2012, my mother had to have her left leg partially amputated below the knee. It turns out that she had infections in her legs that weren't healing properly due to poor blood flow and she was not taking care of them. She had let it go to the point where it was inoperable and had to be amputated. I, of course, used this as an excuse to drink more and sink deeper into my depression. I knew that I was going down the same road as my mother.
By this point, Jackie and I had grown to be very good friends. I was expecting sympathy from her, but what I got surprised me. She was angry with me. She told me that I was wasting my life and that I should be ashamed that I was throwing it away when there are so many people out there who are fighting to stay alive. Jackie has myotonic muscular dystrophy and has to stay very healthy in order to keep her symptoms in check. She seemed to be losing patience with me, and I was afraid I was going to lose her. Soon after that, I decided to quit drinking. I quit cold-turkey. It was quite difficult for me, and I did suffer withdrawals for the first few days. I ran through the full gamut of emotions during this period. I felt self pity mostly, some desperation, and also anger. I was angry at the world. I was angry at the way my life turned out. I was angry that I never did anything about it. I was also angry that I was 30 years old and had basically wasted a decade of my life.
Starting to Lose Weight
After a few weeks, I started feeling better. After a month or so, I began to feel changes in my body, it seemed like I was beginning to lose weight. I had no idea how much weight I was losing as there were no scales that could weigh me. The only time I had weighed myself at my heaviest was when I was in the hospital with a cellulitis infection. They had to bring a special scale in for me. In December of that year, I decided to buy a scale (one of the only ones that I could find that measured above 500lbs). I was 525lbs when I weighed myself. 100lbs had somehow evaporated off of me. This was enough to get me hooked.
I started a daily exercise routine in which I woke up five minutes early every day and ran in place at home. I did this every morning without exception. I found that I was becoming addicted to exercise. I gradually added minutes to my routine until soon I was running in place for an entire hour. I also incorporated "half-jumping jacks," in which I would lunge to one side and raise my arms, then lunge to the other side and repeat. These exercises were good for me because I had a lot of anxiety about going out in public. Jackie had once told me that I would take to exercise "˜like a fish to water.' She was absolutely right.
I eventually worked up the nerve to start walking outside. This was a huge step for me. I had to get over the anxiety of worrying about what people thought of me as they saw me walk by. I started walking around my subdivision, only to the end of the street at first. I found that walking on pavement was a bit harder on my knees than jogging on carpet at home. It was a bit painful at first, but I just took it easy at first.
A week later, I completed my first mile. The snowball was now rolling downhill and couldn't be stopped. I was making progress and feeling results. Other parts of my life were progressing as well"”I landed a full-time job.
I soon found myself waking up at 5AM to go for walks before work. I started using RunKeeper to track my progress. The walks got longer and longer until I was walking five to seven miles every morning and was waking up as early as 3AM. It had turned into a bit of an obsession, but I could think of worse things to be obsessed with. At this point I had become comfortable with pushing myself. I was also walking laps around my office before work every day. At first, my coworkers somewhat ridiculed me, but I just kept at it. I started setting goals, eventually working up to walking seven, eight, then 10 miles.
On July 28, 2013, I walked my first half-marathon. It was a Saturday morning and I woke up at 5AM (sleeping in for me!). It took me just over four hours to complete, but I did it without stopping. I mapped out my route and made sure that my furthest point was about five miles from the start, so I knew that when I hit that halfway point, I would have to walk back! I was in a good deal of pain, but it didn't matter to me. It was a milestone, and I was determined to hit it. I had Jackie on my phone through Skype to help push me through some of the difficult parts. She was always a huge support to me. Shortly after that, I decided to dust off my father's old mountain bike and go for a ride. I was around 400lbs at this point. Again, I had to deal with the anxiety of riding in public. I was afraid that everyone would be staring at me. I dealt with this by cycling early in the morning until I was comfortable enough to do it during the day. It seemed that I had developed a new addiction"”cycling!
The best part about cycling was that I was able to incorporate it into my daily commute to work. It is a 22 mile commute, so what I did was drive half way, then cycle in 11 miles each way. I did this every day with the exception of rainy days (though sometimes I got caught in the rain anyways!). Eventually, I got to the point where every Friday, I cycled the entire distance"”44 miles round trip.
Ready to Try Running
By the time I got down to around 300lbs, I felt that I was ready to try running. I knew that eventually I wanted to run a 5k, and that I had to do some kind of training program to get to that goal. I decided to try an interval training app on my phone. It seemed to work very well for me. It was a nine-week program that I had to condense down to six weeks (I had signed up for a 5k"”the Detroit Turkey Trot). In the middle of this, I had a bit of a setback"”I came down with a cellulitis infection and was hospitalized for three days on I.V. antibiotics. I struggled a bit with this more mentally than physically. I felt the self-pitying side coming back.
After all of this progress, I let a cellulitis infection make me feel defeated. Once I got out of the hospital, I realized that I had to make up for the lost time, so I was even more driven to reach my goal in time. By the time the 5k happened, I was down to 280lbs and was running at 14 minutes per mile (not very fast, but at least I could run the entire 5k without stopping). Now I am at 11 minutes per mile and am striving to get under 10! I have in recent months had to purchase a gym membership because the weather has been especially bad this year. I generally despise treadmills, they give me motion sickness, so my running has been put on hold until it gets a bit warmer out! I like using the elliptical machines and static bikes for cardio.
In December, I finally ended up going to London to meet Jackie. I spent two weeks over there with a trip to Paris as well. I loved every minute of it. Jackie is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I feel that she saved my life, even though she would never take credit! We even climbed the Eiffel Tower. I can check that off of my bucket list!
Today, I am down to 260lbs. I went to see a plastic surgeon this past Monday. It turns out that I have a hernia near my belly button. They say that insurance will cover skin removal just on the front of my stomach as well as fix the hernia. They will remove around 30lbs of skin. I haven't scheduled the operation yet, but I'm sure it will be sometime this year. I'm also planning a return trip to London sometime this year!
I also need to cover some of my diet during these past 15 months. In addition to cutting out alcohol, I cut out all processed sugar. I then cut out red meat as well. The first six months or so, I did use the MyFitnessPal app to count calories. I limited myself to 1400 calories per day for a long time. It was difficult at first, but it taught me to choose foods that were low in calories, but filled me up. I ate chicken breasts and rice quite frequently. I also had a few choice restaurants that I ate at when I was busy and on the go. For breakfast, I typically had sodium free turkey breast meat (yes processed, but cheap and convenient), a cup of special K (dry), a bowl of non-fat greek yoghurt (with splenda to sweeten it), and a glass of low sodium V-8. I ate this for breakfast daily for a long time. I also started taking a multi-vitamin and fish oil daily.
The Best Year of My Life
My depression has pretty much subsided. I did end up seeing a therapist once a week, and that was a big help. I still see him to this day. I am actually planning to go back to school for psychology. I would like to be a therapist myself"”specializing in weight loss, depression and anxiety.
As far as eating habits go now, I don't count calories anymore. I tend to know now what I can eat daily within reason. I owe a big part of this to Jackie. I've adopted her mentality for eating"”it's all about portion control. Our portions in America are quite larger than what people eat in European countries. We tend to overeat frequently, and that is what is contributing to our problems with obesity.
I now eat sugar occasionally, and always in moderation (though sometimes I cut loose and overdo it"”a good topic to discuss with my therapist!). My current goal is to run a full marathon. I plan to run in the Ann Arbor Marathon in May (albeit a 5k, but will eventually work up to a full marathon). I also plan to return to Cedar Point this year. I haven't been able to fit on the rides in 14 years!
This has been the best year of my life. For once, things are looking up. I used to tell Jackie about how all of this feels like a dream and that it never actually happened. She just says that this is me living my life now and that I need to get used to it!
I sometimes look in the mirror and don't recognize the guy I see. It has all been a bit overwhelming (in a good way!).
Life is good, and I look forward to living it for much longer now. I wish you all the best of luck with your health and hope you
There were a few complications after the last surgery, and I just spent 5 days in a hospital in Michigan with an infection and blood clot in my left leg. I will have to take a blood thinner for the next three months, but I have bounced back pretty well.
Jackie and I want to thank everyone for all of the support. We couldn't have done this without all of you! Thank you!!!
This would be done in two extensive procedures. We hadn't considered the fact that not many surgeons have dealt with a case quite like Brian's. Most surgeons probably rarely see more than a 200lb loss let alone nearly twice that!! This needs to be a reputable surgeon. Jackie and I wonder if the magnitude of this particular task is why the other surgeon is now not responding to Brian.
Given this new info and a better picture of what Brian is facing I have come to the painful decision to raise Brian's fund goal. I have taken the estimate total and factored in additional taxes, fees, etc, as well as possible travel. I included the estimate in this update. I have blacked out the surgeon and center info to be on the safe side. Brian did not want to raise the goal and "ask for more" as he continues to be very humble but I know we still have help to offer him! He is still looking for quotes but is struggling to get responses from surgeons when they realize the amount to skin he has to lose as well as the publicity he has received.
Brian has done something so astonishing with his weight loss achievements and few in this world can even compare, he deserves all the help he can get!
Thank you all, so very much, for your help.
Brian, you look fantastic! Your story is so inspiring, and I especially love your positive, never give up attitude. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Hi Brian I really would like to lose weight. I am reading some books. The fear of getting started is overwhelming. Still need to work on the diet. Letting go of sugar is impossible for me.
Amazing weight loss story brian. I too was heavy but not as bad as you were. Unfortunately my weight problem led to a heart attack and a triple bypass heart surgery that I barely survived and I have a lot of medical bills and other debts. my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org I would like to tell my story as well.
I too lost alot of weight and had excess skin to remove. Dr. Dinick is an amazing surgeon near you that specializes in excess skin removal. I highly suggest him. I couldnt be happier with my results.
good going great great job
Please keep up us updated on your progress!!
Way to go Brian :) I am so happy for you!
What a fantastic, inspiring story, Brian. Way to go, and thanks for sharing your story. There are so many people out there in the same position you were in, who can benefit from your story.
Your story is one heck of an inspiration, Brian. May your surgeries be successful and help you regain your freedom to be your very best self.
Congratulations, Brian! I am so excited for you! Now you can finish this journey and look to a wonderful future! Good luck with whatever you attempt next!
Jhaquetta Emile that is an incredible Idea maybe someone needs to contact the family of the firefighter and let them know about Brian's needs and they could all help each other out...
Brian, What a super inspiring story! I myself have started my journey and came across this today on my news feed via The Blaze. Thank you for sharing!
Come on guys brians nearly at goal and do deserves this $1 each will well exceed target xx
What an amazing story! You have given me inspiration! Blessings to you
There is a California firefighter that fell through the roof of a house trying to put out a fire and was badly burned over most of his body. He is in need of skin grafts. Would you be willing to donate your skin? Maybe a kind doctor could be found who would be willing to help you both and maybe you wouldn't have to pay so much for the removal because you would be donating the skin to a firefighter in need. It's just a thought. But I hope you consider it please.
I seen your story ob fb and I just had to say its truely amazing. I myself have struggled my entire life with my weight and I have finally began to start controling it instead of it controling me! Your story is not only insperational but makes me feel that as long as I keep my drive I can accomplish my goals. Thank u for that. Congrats on your weight loss. And thank you for sharing your story!
Brian first and foremost congratulations on your journey. Just like Jackie came into your life when you needed her I believe I came across your story when i needed it most. I have a 16 y/o son who is very overweight like you he is depressed and his feelings get hurt very easily because of these things i have failed him. I have let him sit around and eat and play video games. Last night was when things all if a sudden became clear to me when i walked into his bedroom (he wasn't home) and found his trash can overflowing with candy wrappers . I had purchased a 24 ounce bag of chocolate mini candy bars when I went to the cabinet I found the bag with about 5 mini candy bars left. I don't want to lose my son but Iknow he has to lose some weight or his health is going to pay the price. I am saving your story for him to read so maybe he will see that he can do it too. Thank you so very much for having the courage to share your incredible journey. I am leaving my email in hopes that you might send some tips and strategies for my son. We live in Illinois not far from Chicago naybe since you are just in Michigan we will run into you. Thank you again for being an inspiration to many. email@example.com
fabulous loss.. and good luck with the surgery!
You are an inspiration. I am in the middle of my own journey down this road. However I must admit that I have plateaued and lost the drive for a few months. This has definitely made me realize how worth it, the effort is. Thank you for your courage to share your story! I hope that I can have the success you have had and finally live my life as well!
What an amazing story brian, you have done an amazing job, so keep up the good work. I would also like to say you are so very good looking and it is a pity you live so far away. gretta x