Mark had just discovered a weight-loss secret that few have the luxury to obtain during their lifetime. In fact, to this day he has lost over 200 lbs.
Mark describes how he got to this point.
"The moment of enlightenment for me was realizing that I am 50 lbs away from being a documentary, or that the clothes at the Big & Tall Store barely fit. When normal everyday routines like walking and breathing become a struggle for you, it is an indication that you are unwell. I realized that if I continued down this road, I will see the grave sooner rather than later. It was time to make a decision."
To give you a little perspective, at one point in Mark's life he tipped the scale at 575 lbs. We actually didn’t know what he weighed, because he could not stand on a typical bathroom scale. He used to require a scale found specifically at clinics.
"Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been trying to lose weight my entire adult life. I tried Weight Watchers, U-Weight Loss, LA Weight Loss, Atkins, you name it. I’ve counted calories, points, carbs, and taken supplements. All of these programs and products were designed for rapid weight loss, but they were not sustainable.
"I would lose 100 lbs only to gain it back...and more."
"Every time I faced yet another attempt to lose weight and fail, I would go back to what made me happy, which was the very thing that got me in the situation in the first place. It’s no different than someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol. I still love food, but back then I had an unhealthy love affair with it. I would order an entire large pizza, breadsticks, wings, and a 2 L soft drink and polish all of it up in one night. When people harped on me about losing weight, the more food I would want to eat.
"Anyone who has been overweight or obese and failed at losing weight knows the feeling. True failure is admitting your life is going to continue to suck like it sucks right now. I never considered myself suicidal, but I often thought that things would be better if I would get hit by a bus and die.
"But these last 2 years — after making the decision to really get well — have been the ones most worth living."
As Mark’s health coach, it’s words like his that are music to my ears.
Why Mark chose to hire a health coach
I asked Mark, “So, I’m curious...what sold you on health coaching?”
His response: “Honestly, I didn’t fully understand the concept of coaching at first. It was the coach — you were who I wanted to work with. You had a level of integrity higher than others in the fitness industry. Others were willing to take my money, but were not willing to help me. Your approach was to help first. I felt that it was you who was making the investment in me. You never tried to upsell, but you were honest and transparent right from the start. I realized later that I wasted more money on gimmicks that didn’t work than I spent on your coaching.
"You didn’t come over and purge all the ‘bad stuff’ from my cupboards. You never required me to count calories or restrict me in any way. I never felt hungry or deprived at any point during your program. Your program allowed me to exercise at home. When you are as unhealthy as I was, the last thing you want to do is work out in public...because there are always people who will judge you when you are trying to get healthy."
The 5 km walk
There was a time Mark couldn’t walk 2 blocks, never mind 6.8 kilometers.
"At the time, I was still self-conscious, and that is why the walking event not only required a lot of physical preparation but mental and emotional preparation as well."
As his health coach I knew how that the event was going to be a big challenge for him. I also registered so that I could walk with him every step of the way.
What I didn’t realize was that I was about to gain one of the most valuable lessons a health coach can learn.
You see, once Mark crossed the finish line, his walk was far from over. The last kilometer was a struggle for him because his legs started to cramp up. I knew that feeling all too well, but I also am one of those crazy people who voluntarily pay to register for Ironman triathlon events. The difference between what I have done, and what Mark just did, was that most people looked to me with some level of respect and admiration after my finish. They understood why I hobbled along after swimming 3.8 km, cycling 180 km and running 42 km. Makes sense, right?
What people need to understand is that the level of stress on Mark’s body that day was comparable to the level of stress on my body in an Ironman, but there were no “race catchers” for Mark at his finish line. We couldn’t even find a chair that he felt was sturdy enough to hold his weight so that he could rest his tired legs.
So his 5 km walk had to continue.
It continued all through the line to get to the post-race nutrition, all the way to catch the shuttle busses, and again to the furthest end of the parking lot where Mark had parked earlier. In the end, Mark had clocked 6.8 kilometers that day, where 5 km was already a big enough accomplishment.
This is like asking an athlete who just finished an Ironman to do 1/3 of the distance all over again...after they cross the finish line.
That day, Mark accomplished one of his biggest goals, and that was to complete the 5 km event at the Father’s Day Manitoba Marathon.
“I have lost the equivalent of a full-grown man. I know that I am a lot lighter than I used to be, but I still have a ways to go,” Mark recalls.
Mark and I sit down for a talk
It was time for Mark and I to plan the next phase of his journey to greater health. This was the conversation that followed:
Ruth: If you could go back in time and give 575 lb Mark advice on how to get well, what would you tell him?
Mark’s response was perfect.
1. "You have to know you’re worth it."
Mark: You can either stay wallowing in your self-pity or you can make the decision to get well. You have to make the decision for yourself, nobody else.
2. "You have to know that the journey won’t be easy."
Mark: Nothing worth doing is ever easy. No weight-loss gimmick works in the long-term. If you want long-term results you have to make a long-term commitment.
3. "You can NOT do it alone."
Mark: Sure, your friends and family will support you, but you need someone in your corner. A knowledgeable coach will not only teach you to strategically fight, but their passion to see you win will encourage you to keep going when you’re exhausted. Your coach should have the compassion to see you where you’re at, but love you enough to not let you stay there.
As a health coach, my mission and purpose is to inspire lifelong positive changes like the ones described here in Mark's story. If you think Health Coaching might be right for you and would like to speak with a me, simply click the button below. I'd love to talk!