Updated: Feb 18
For the about the last 26 years, I have battled to lose weight and get in shape. I had occasional, short term successes that would ultimately end in failure and I would find myself heavier than I was before starting that particular effort. Over and over I would tell myself, “This is the one that is going to work”, only to fail for any number of reasons.
As things were spiraling out of control over the years, my body would desperately hold on to a specific weight for a number of months and when it couldn’t take the excess food and lack of exercise anymore, it would give and I would add another 10-15 pounds to what I was already carrying. This went on for years, along with occasional, half-hearted attempts to lose the weight on the next “diet” plan and magic pills from a local supplement store and even efforts from my doctor, prescribing pills to help curb appetite and promote weight loss.
The internal struggle I was dealing with had become a huge problem and no-one, not even those closest to me, had any clue how this was absolutely crushing me in my daily life. I became very good at hiding some terrible eating habits and dressing to hide what I was so ashamed of.
Then I stumbled across a radio show on 97.1 on a Sunday afternoon. When I heard the show, the things that were discussed always made sense to me. A lot of sense. I caught the show a few more times and wrote down the name and number they gave if you wanted to get more information about the things they were talking about.
I had that number written down for about a month before I finally called. Debbie Portell answered that call and spent about 30 minutes with me on the phone, asking questions about me that no doctor or other person that had attempted to help me lose weight had asked. Most of all, she was encouraging me, a person she had never met or talked to before, that we could solve this problem. I made that call in November of 2014. I did nothing with everything Debbie told me until June of 2015. I tried to get myself in the plan and for a variety of reasons (and probably some lame excuses), I finally made it to the Integrity Training Systems facility in October 2015. 57
After arranging everything with Debbie (and John Morris), I had an assessment appointment with Mike Harris, who was going to be my personal trainer. I had an appointment with Debbie the day after the assessment to discuss and implement a nutrition plan.
October 5th, 2015 is a day that changed my life. I met with Mike, a complete stranger at that time, to share some of the most difficult to discuss, deeply emotional things that only I knew I was battling. After a lengthy discussion about my struggles, my goals and the path to success we would tackle on the gym floor, we headed to the scale, something I had avoided for the last 6+ months because I knew the news would never be good.
I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of myself. I was humiliated that someone else saw that number. Mike looked me dead in the eyes and said “Don’t worry about it, you’re never going to see that number on the scale again”. I’ll never forget those words or the honest sincerity I felt he had in his intentions to make that happen.
I left that night feeling excited and a little intimidated by the physical work I thought I wouldn’t be able to do. I was really looking forward to the meeting the next night with Debbie to see what the next steps were.
I brought my wife, Kristin, to the meeting with Debbie the next night, so I would have another person on my “team” that would listen, understand the nutrition plan and help me implement it. Just like the radio show, the plan made absolute sense to me and was very doable.
Once I got into this nutrition plan and working out with Mike twice a week, everything started coming together. I was feeling great. The weight was dropping off. Here’s the thing though…I’d been here before, losing weight like this. Why would this be any different than all the other times I’d tried and failed? The answer wasn’t simply Mike’s dedication to teaching me the right way to lift or the most effective training plan to drop weight and get stronger. It wasn’t simply Debbie’s dedication to helping me make good decisions along the way as I was learning to make good choices while traveling or going out to eat. What made this work for me was the entire Integrity Training family. Everyone. From the trainers that weren’t my trainers to the clients 58
that I was putting in the work next to. Everyone in the building wants to see everyone succeed. The positive attitudes are contagious. The effects of a positive attitude are more powerful in my daily life than I ever knew.
So, here’s the deal. On May 11, 2016 I stepped on the scale and weighed 197.4 pounds. On October 5, 2015, I set a goal with Mike, of losing 100 pounds. 7 months later, I accomplished a goal I never thought I could achieve. I have learned so much about myself, nutrition, weight training, goal setting and just stepping out in life and tackling something big, no matter how daunting the challenge is. Our capacity to do these things is in us. It just takes surrounding yourself with people that believe in you, pushing you, even when you can’t see the path to success.
It’s been 13 months since I started this journey. I am now down a total of 117 pounds and can’t remember ever feeling better than I do now, both physically and mentally. I’m looking forward to seeing where I will be on October 5th, 2017 and what challenges I will tackle leading up to then.
I want to specifically thank my wife Kristin, Mike Harris and Debbie Portell for your dedication to helping me succeed. As I said above, it takes a family, but I really leaned on all three of you in the beginning as I started to make this life change happen.