This week we profile gsfreeman2, a gentleman who has lost 100 pounds in 18 months at age 46 and is a huge inspiration to us all. Fantastic, gsfreeman2! If you’d like to nominate a member for a Fitocracy Member Spotlight, please email fitocracymemberspotlight
Username and level:
gsfreeman2, level 31
How did you get started in fitness and training?
I grew up pretty unathletic – I was picked last for everything, and never really much cared enough to do anything about my physical fitness. My activity ran in fits and spurts without any consistency all throughout my college and adult life – I’d work out for a while, take classes or work with a trainer for a while – but nothing ever stuck. In November, 2011, I was in the worst shape of my life. I was at 280 lbs with a BMI of 41.3. It was then that I hired a 6’10” Congolese trainer that I met through mutual friends on Facebook named Hamish. Hamish weighed me (even though I owned a scale, I had it tucked away and never stepped on it), took pictures, gave me a “sample” workout that made my quads and hamstrings sore for 3 days, and handed me a six-month contract for personal training and a food journal. I began working with him and his associate trainers shortly after Thanksgiving. I went from someone who was almost completely sedentary to someone who worked out three, then four, then five, and now six days a week. Over the course of six months from 11-11 to 5-12, I lost 70 lbs. and several sizes as my 45th birthday present to myself. My waist was under 40 for the first time since 1999. I kept things up and although progress slowed, I managed to lose another 30 pounds in the ensuing year, for a total weight loss of 100 lbs in 18 months in time for my 46th birthday in May, 2013.
How did you find the site?
A friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to the site, dismissing it as another social media he didn’t need. I went right there and signed up later that day. I found so many people whose stories resonated with me (and with whom my story resonated), that I jumped in with both feet. @DerrickM was probably my first Fito friend, and @MouthyIrish and I share the same Fitoversary of April 2, 2013.
How has it changed your workouts?
Watching the exercises that others do and learning the Arnold circuits are things I would not have done on my own. When it comes to new exercises, I often need to be shown how to do it once or twice before I pick things up on my own, and this has been invaluable.
Do you have any long term goals or direction you plan to take your training?
Having finished the aggressive weight loss phase (and with summer in Minnesota packing a year’s worth of social activities into the space between May and September, making portion control a LOT harder), I have held off 90 of the 100 lbs I lost – although some of what I have gained back might be muscle), I really need to add some strength. There is a feeling in the paleo/primal community (which I am not 100% bought into but a lot of it makes a great deal of sense) that there is no such thing as “loose skin” and that what is left is fat that needs to be burned off by lifting heavier and harder. Looking at the amount of weight I am lifting vs. other Fito friends of mine, I can see that this is an area for attention and improvement.
What are things you’ve learned through trial and error?
One thing that I hadn’t ever known is that you need to make changes in your food plan to find success, especially in weight loss. As one of the trainers at Hamish’s studio says, “you can’t work your way out of a bad diet”. I went from eating pretty much whatever I wanted to following a consistent food plan most days. My trainers have some very strong opinions about certain foods, and I have found that some of their opinions [especially regarding wheat, sugar, and dairy] certainly hold true for me as well.
What areas do you hope to learn more about?
I am always open to learning more about anything! What I am undertaking is not a “diet” to be followed and put away, it’s an evolving and hopefully permanent lifestyle change. As noted above, I really want to focus my training toward strength building so I can bring the same confidence to squats, deadlifts, and leg days as I now have for jumping jacks, planks, and even the dreaded and hated burpee.
Currently, where would you say your weakness lies?
Diet is a hard one. Especially in a Minnesota summer, as noted above, there are too many temptations and I have let the open food buffet get the better of me some days. But I try to keep the other days of the week tight to compensate and still track my intake to the best of my ability on non-cheat days.
Where do you excel?
I have gone from having not very much cardiovascular strength and endurance to being able to really bring it through fitness classes, elliptical sessions, and bootcamps.
What motivates you?
Seeing how far I have come from that guy with 42” jeans and 44” dress pants, XXL shirts, and a pendulous gut to someone with 34” jeans and dress pants, M and L shirts, and not looking that bad in profile…. and the desire to take it further. The positive feedback I get from my trainers, my doctors, my family, and fellow Fito’s! Also, seeing people much older than I am come to the gym week after week (there are several seniors who use the Lifetime near me) is something highly motivating to me. It is true that success breeds more success.
Are you using any supplements or special dietary changes to achieve your goals?
I take a number of supplements. I do have some cardiac history and on the advice of Dr. Stephen Sinatra as endorsed by my own GP and cardiologist, I take L-Carnitine, CoQ10, Magnesium, and D-Ribose. I also take a CLA supplement daily and before each workout. Fortunately, as I have progressed through this journey, I have been able to ELIMINATE several medications – metformin (for blood sugar – I was the poster child for pre-diabetes but was never diabetic), allopurinol (for gout prevention), and omeprazole (for acid reflux). My pharmacist says that except for the fact I never took a statin, I was on all the major lifestyle meds and I am now off them! I also have had my dosages of my beta blocker and blood pressure pills cut in half from the doses I took at my heaviest.
If you could give advice to someone starting off, what would you tell them?
Make a plan and log it, whether on ink and paper or online. You have to write it down and be honest with yourself! Don’t expect things to change overnight – it takes time to see results.—and never, ever give up! Chart a course and stick with it, even through the rough times and the plateaus (both in weight loss and in strength building). The keys to success in fitness are consistency – how to keep it going – and resilience – how to get back on plan when life takes you off plan as will always happen.
What’s your ‘secret weapon’, the thing that pushes you or you feel gives you an edge?
The ability to bring it day after day after day, and not to let a bad day or two or even three derail me from moving forward. Being able to shake off a bad streak and get right back on plan is a major key to success.
What has the overall impact of Fitocracy been in your life?
Fitocracy brings out the best in people! Being on this site makes us focus on what is important and set the distractions from our goals and our mindset to the wayside. That doesn’t mean everything is always wine and roses, but it means that we have learned how to deal with it and move beyond. The support here — and how much people are willing to share about themselves — is phenomenal.
One thing I want people to take away from my story is…
You can do this! Success is much more mental than physical. You have to have a burning desire to get to where you want to be in order to get there. For years, I told myself that I could just lose the weight if…. but never did. It took a conscious decision that I needed to make a change NOW, combined with continued effort, to get where I am today.