On many levels, I’ve had a good 55 years of life. My blessings include good education, fulfilling employment and 20 years in Valparaiso with my wonderful wife Diane and the kids we have raised together. However, even since early childhood (with one five year pause into normalcy between the end of high school to law school entry), I have been medically obese. Then in 2001, the roof really fell in!
In February, I had a major leg operation, followed by brother’s suicide in April and the total heartbreak of my native New York City on 9/11. After a year of major depression, I gained almost 100 lbs. with my 5’8” body reaching 354. All attempts at dieting were merely yo-yos, never letting me go below 290 and always ultimately returning me to about 335. I was a prisoner of morbid obesity.
In early 2015, my wife started her successful weight loss plan and asked me to join her. I initially refused to try her ‘fad diet’. However, after horrible blood tests, (including sugar levels in diabetic range) and a doctor urging me to get bypass surgery because he thought I couldn’t lose weight any other way and was destined to a horrible near future; I changed my mind. On Mother’s Day of 2015, I put on the tight-fitting, size 2X novelty tee shirt picture above and vowed: This is my ‘Before’ picture. By diet alone, I managed to lose 45 lbs. by the end of October.
Only then, did Ian Bowen and Pumps enter the picture. After winning two free, half-hour sessions at Pumps in a local promotional drawing; I actually went. Ian had exactly the right temperament, encouragement and caring for me. I have done weekly personal training with Ian ever since. At first, I only wanted to avoid backsliding through the cold Midwest winter and those gluttonous holidays. Instead, I lost 15 more pounds by February 2016.
My weight loss slowed through the rest of winter; but my strength, flexibility and health all improved. I was afraid to do exercise outside of my weekly Pumps session until I reached 250 because I feared it would hurt my joints. However, motivated by Ian’s insistence on maintaining good form and stuck in the mid-250s, I decided that I needed to exercise more to obtain new levels of success. In addition to my wife, doctor and Ian, I added regular exercise at the Valpo YMCA. After two weeks of regular group exercise, I kissed 250 goodbye.
Ian’s weekly personal training lessons in building a strong core, correct form and pushing the possible continue to inform all of my other workouts. I have now lost 105 lbs. and am ready to cross into the 220's less than 1 ½ years after taking my ‘Before’ picture. I now wear large tees, have lost 12 pants sizes and my doctor gives me ‘High Fives’ after good blood tests.
Pumps and Ian Bowen remain important partners in my continuing weight-loss and overall health journey. People constantly say to me: Wow, you’ve really changed your lifestyle! I tell them that now I finally live a lifestyle instead of a death spiral. I’ve learned many hard and important lessons including that diet only changes the outside, and that lasting and healthy weight-loss success requires change from within; that regular exercise and picking the right partners are essential, and - oh yes - that strong really is the new thin!