If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ve been seeing a lot of Don M. His wife, Amy, started coming to me a little over a year ago for weight loss and while she got off to a good start, she began to plateau and held steady there prior to the pandemic.
All along the way, she kept telling me how much she wanted to get her husband, Don, in to see me.
When I met Don, I liked him instantly. We share more than a few common bonds: we’re relatively close in age, we each have two sons (one on the autism spectrum and one who is neuro-typical) and we’re both musicians (he, an active musician and I loving say, am a recovering musician).
Don’s immediate problem was pain. We both agreed that, even with our lack of medical degrees, much of that pain could be alleviated if he lost weight. In his words: “Jason, I could lose 100 pounds and I’d still be fat.”
I’ll come back to that…
Don was plagued with so much pain in so many different areas of his body that I wasn’t sure just how few things I could comfortably get him to do in the gym.
When he decided to start, I told him this would be a long, painful journey. I wasn’t trying to be snarky. Long, because he has a lot of weight to lose and painful because of how much pain his body was in day-in and day-out.
As I do with all of my incoming weight loss clients, it’s a lot of conversation about food. If you don’t know much about the work we do, when it comes to weight loss, the major mover is food intake NOT how hard we can crush you with a workout.
Don gave me a tour through his diet. On paper, it didn’t look terribly off path. However, that’s one of the interesting things about nutrition coaching. Some people will give you every gory detail of their diet and some are a bit more reserved. That’s not a good or bad. It just sometimes requires more digging.
So, I asked Don: Where do you think your diet goes sideways the most?
His response: Definitely dinner.
Now, I have something to work with.
Without discussing in great detail how many calories, or how much protein, or any of those things, I asked Don to do something “simpler”: Eat the same size dinner as your wife is supposed to eat.
Allow me to caveat this. I knew what Don was eating throughout the day. I knew what the scope of his day looked like. This tactic was aggressive and, killed two birds with one stone, if you will. It got Don into a deficit and it got his wife, Amy, back on the plan.
This next part can’t be understated. Don is extremely motivated. That’s not a slight on anyone else. When someone comes through my doors, motivation is at least somewhat in place. The problem is that dieting is harder than people give it credit for. It takes focus, it takes patience, it takes consistency and it requires a fair amount of change to make it work and make it stick.
Don is motivated by pain: to be in less of it. He is motivated by his sons: he wants to be alive and healthy to enjoy a lifetime of raising them. He has his own stories about his relationship with his father that motivates him to provide something different for his own children.
This motivation is what is giving him something of a dietary compass.
As for his exercise, we saw some interesting things early on. I knew I would be limited with the training I could do for him because standing too long would give him pain and sitting too long would do the same.
We experimented with a handful of exercises on his first couple of sessions and while some of them were relatively pain-free movements, others would fire his system up (notably his midsection) where he would sometimes be paralyzed in pain, sweating profusely and unable to continue.
So, I pulled together a small list of exercises he could perform on the two days he’s here each week. We focused on those and on progressing them in weight or reps each time he came in.
He is currently doing no cardio.
I mention that because, it never fails that someone who is unable to lose weight immediately jumps to the conclusion that they need to do more cardio to succeed. Cardio can help, don’t get me wrong. However, it is nowhere near as efficient as calorie/food management.
In Don’s case, it’s barely even an option for him until we get more weight off his frame and have fewer and fewer bouts of pain holding him back.
To date, Don is down 37 pounds in 9 weeks. Results are not typical. If I could get 37 pounds off every weight loss client who walks through this door that quickly, I could likely retire on a remote island.
What you’re seeing (or in this case, reading about) is a man who is driven to succeed. His diet isn’t perfect and it doesn’t have to be. It has to be more “in line” than “outside the lines”. It is more about caloric content than food quality (although better food quality certainly makes the process easier).
It’s about a father who wants better for his sons and a husband committed to a plan with his wife.
I chuckle with him because every time I post about his weight loss success, those posts do extremely well on social media. I lovingly call it The Don M— Fan Club. People love him. And, it stands to reason, that his friends, his family, and extended RevFit family very much want to see him succeed.
To the man who said: “I could lose 100 pounds and still be fat”, that may very well be the case. The journey will be to see him get beyond 100 pounds lost, to a weight he feels he can maintain, be happy with and fulfill all that his motivation is driving him to be.
What Don is doing is tremendously inspiring. It is for anyone who solves their weight loss riddle and makes the plan work. We have no fads and no gimmicks here. Just a path.
He sent me a text over the weekend and the last part of it read: “Brother, you will just never know what this means to me and what YOU mean to me. Thank you for your wisdom, your superior leadership, but most of all, thank you for believing in me when most wrote me off. You are my friend more than anything else and you gave me my life back. I don’t even know how to begin to say thank you. I love you, brother!”
On that note, I’m going to grab a tissue. I wouldn’t give myself near as much credit as Don does. The hero here is him.
I love you too, brother. I’m very proud of you.
“We Make Great People Greater”