Running For His Life: The Story Of One Man’s Weight Loss Journey

I have wanted to share this story with you for a while. It made an indelible mark on my heart and I hope it does the same for you.

If you, or someone you love, has ever struggled with weight, I encourage you to read or listen to today’s post. I recorded it for you so that you can listen while at your computer or while making dinner or perhaps on your commute home.

For the audio recording of today’s post, click here.


I Want To Serve YOU.

I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out how to help people who tell me they want to get healthier or want to lose weight, but they just can’t seem to make the changes that will provide them with lasting results.

Recently, I have been receiving requests from people asking me to work with them one-on-one in order to help them get healthier and lose weight.

I am deeply humbled by these requests. It takes courage and vulnerability to reach out to me and ask for help.

I am honoured that people believe I can even help them at all. Thank you to each and every one of you who has made the call.

Something has pushed you to say you've had enough. I encourage you to keep going with this feeling.

Explore it and use it as a catalyst for change. Because when we don't change, nothing changes.

However, in my experience, what I have found is that when people say they want help with losing weight (Point A), what they are really asking for is the result they desire--to have lost the weight (Point B).

The problem is, they often aren't ready to do the mental and physical work required in order to actually get from Point A to Point B. They want immediate results, and so they try something for a short period of time, (think, "fad diet") but more often than not, it isn't a sustainable approach, and so they go back to their old habits.

This doesn't frustrate me as much as it makes me even more determined to find ways to help.

I may not have the answer, but I might be getting closer. Time will tell.

Running For His Life

It’s February 2007, and I am at the gym. I’m on the leg press machine and I look over and I see a familiar face on the treadmill.

I don’t know his name, but I have seen him here every day for months. He is a young guy, maybe 25. He is very overweight. Probably 150 pounds overweight. He wears a full track suit. It is always drenched with sweat.

I notice that today, he is jogging. He usually walks. I look away and smile, imagining myself going over and telling him how awesome I think he is. I don’t. He would probably think I was patronizing him. I would probably embarrass him.

I want to tell him, though. I feel so much pride knowing how hard he is fighting this battle. It's one of the toughest battles there is.

I send positive thoughts to him and secretly wish him luck.

Months go by. I see him almost every single day. He runs on the treadmill now. I notice that he is getting smaller but he still wears the track suit. It is always drenched with sweat.

Then, one day, I can’t help myself. He has lost so much weight and looks so incredibly different that I simply have to acknowledge his efforts.

I walk up to him as he is filling his water bottle. Sweat is pouring down his face.

“You’re awesome.”

He looks at me, and awkwardly smiles. “Oh, thanks."

I keep going. "What you are doing is absolutely amazing. You should be so proud of yourself".

And then he says something I am not expecting. He says "I think you are amazing.”

I furrow my brow and scrunch up my nose and give him a look that says, “What? Why am I amazing??!” but before I can ask, he says, “I’ve been going to the party my whole life. You’ve never even been to the party.”

I just stand there for a moment, looking at him. Processing what he has said.

I have one of those Oprah moments where I say “I have never thought of it that way before”.

He asks me if I have ever really been overweight.

I have to admit to him that although I have been heavier than I am now, I can't say I have ever really struggled with weight. Not like him.

This exchange sparks something in me. I begin to look at food as a drug.

I tell him I am an alcoholic.

I tell him that while I was drinking alone on the couch, he was eating. And I realize that all addiction is the same.
It is there to fill a hole inside of us.

I ask him what made him finally decide to start on this new path.

He says that on the night he decided to do something about his weight, he had eaten an entire large pizza to himself. He headed to the freezer to get the chocolate pie.

It was after 11 pm.

He didn't cut a slice and place it neatly on his plate. No. He just slid the pie out of the box and grabbed the whole thing and a fork and made his way back to the couch. He ate most of it, and as he sat there feeling guilty and sick, he says he just realized that he was absolutely sick of it.

He was sick of himself and his life. He was sick of always being stared at and judged and feeling like crap all the time. He was sick of not doing fun things with his friends. He was sick of hating who he was.

I nod and I tell him that I understand. I tell him about my struggle with alcohol and we share a bit more while standing by the water fountain.

It feels good to share with someone who I can relate with, even if our addictions are to different drugs.

My curiosity is piqued and we keep talking. I need to know, "how did you do it? How did you make the decision and then act on it?"

He says “I just started. I got this gym membership and I decided not to care what other people would think of me. That was hard, because I feel self conscious a lot; but I feel self conscious whether or not I am working on my weight, so I may as well be working on it."

He continues, "I got on the treadmill and I started. Every day I'd go a little further until my knees didn't hurt as much and then I started jogging. And now I run. About an hour every day.”

I ask him about his diet; what had to change? He tells me he cut out all junk food. He drinks litres of water each day. He doesn't order out and when flyers or coupons come in the mail from takeout places, he recycles them right away. He cooks for himself and eats "tons of vegetables. They are always my snack".

"But", he says , "I still go out with friends and have a burger once in a while. You have to indulge sometimes. But most of the time, I eat healthy and I don't have any junk food at home. If I get hungry, I have to make something or else snack on vegetables or an apple or something."

He admits it's hard sometimes but it is getting easier with time.

"Plus", he says, "I go to bed earlier now. I don't just stay up late eating and playing video games or watching TV. Sometimes I go to bed just to avoid eating. I feel a lot better when I wake up, though. I have energy to run."

I am blown away by his determination and I feel so much pride for this guy I don't know but feel connected to.

He tells me he doesn't beat himself up if he skips a workout or eats cake. He says "I spent my entire life getting fat; it's not going to go away overnight. And I am human. I am going to make mistakes. But as long as I have more good days than bad days, I'm happy. I like where I am going. I like myself a lot more."

This is music to my ears.

We develop a mutual admiration and I see him regularly at the gym over the years. We always smile and wave and I often give him a thumbs up because, well, that's me.

He gets down to a perfectly healthy weight. Over the years he has started strength training. He is lean and muscular. If someone were to meet him today, they would never know the battle that he is fighting. What he is overcoming. The mental toughness it takes to overcome an addiction to food in this world of temptation.

Food, food, food. Everywhere. Fried food and fatty food and salty food and sweet food and junk food galore. Calling his name, all of our names. It is insidious.


What strikes me, perhaps the most to be honest, is how he looks. Obviously his body has changed and he exudes a new-found confidence and a different "vibe", but it's his face. I can’t believe how much his appearance has changed; he looks like a completely different person.

Old friends who hadn't seen him in a few years would pass him on the street without a second glance. No one would be able to pick him out of an old photograph. If he were carded at a bar, bouncers would never believe it was him.

And yet, this is the same guy I watched in the grey tracksuit drenched with sweat while running on the treadmill. Running for his life.

How is this the same guy?

And then I realize something powerful. I realize that he isn't the same guy.

Yes, he is still James and he has his family, his friends, his experiences and his memories.

He has the same job. He is still kind and thoughtful and funny and smart.

He even has the same body. But now, it's the body he was meant to live in.

No, he is no longer the same guy.

He is a new version of himself. A very different version of himself.

A James who enjoys being with friends.

A James who goes on hikes and finds outdoor adventures instead of playing video games or watching hours of TV.

A James who has more confidence and feels proud of himself.

A James who hit a rock bottom and who used it to push off and carve out a new life for himself.

No, he is not the same guy.

He admits to me that he is struggling to get to know the new him; looking in the mirror is still strange.

He tells me that often, he still feels like a fat person. He knows he has lost the weight; he has bought all new clothes; he shops in regular stores; his knees don't hurt anymore. He can run!

He smiles a lot more. He feels good. He has energy. He doesn't get winded walking up stairs. He can do so many things he couldn't do before. He is living.

People treat him so differently now. He fits in. 

But even though he is having a hard time aligning the two versions of himself, he is more determined than ever to keep going.

He hasn't set up unrealistic expectations for the weight loss; he just wants to keep improving.

He tells me that one of the keys throughout his experience has been to reward himself for a job well done. Not with food, but with something he wants like a new book or going to a movie.

When our gym closes, I wonder from time to time how he is doing.

About a year later, I see him working at his job. He is smiling. I tell him he looks great as I walk out of the store. And he does.

I am beaming as I walk to my car. He's done what so many others have failed to do.

He has created a new lifestyle and not just "white-knuckled" it through some crazy fad diet that would have him starving himself half to death only to finally fail and binge and gain back all the weight he had a little bit more.

Because that's how the diet industry works. They keep us failing so they can keep winning.

Visualize To Realize

If you are listening to the recording of this post, I invite you to sit comfortably for the next few moments as I ask a few questions. We are going to do a visualization technique that I hope will help you to build emotion that may serve to help you if you are looking to lose weight or get healthier.

Are You Someone Who...

Are you someone who HAS been lean and healthy at some point in your life but you find yourself struggling with your weight now? Was there a time in your life when you were really fit and feeling great? Were you raised eating pretty well and you know what to do, you’re just not currently doing it? Maybe you’ve let work and life get in the way and you put everyone else’s needs before your own. Maybe you have become disabled and you can no longer do the things you used to do, so you use food to ease your pain. Maybe your spouse has no desire to eat healthy, and you don't know how to do it alone. Maybe you have kids who you worry would refuse to eat healthy meals if you started preparing them, and so you feel there is no point in trying. Maybe you feel like food has become your only happiness and you just can’t imagine giving up your one pleasure.

Or are you someone who has always been overweight? Did your parents raise you on packaged and fast food? Did you sit in front of the TV instead of playing outside and exercising? Have you always had a "sweet tooth" or craved salty, fatty foods like pizza or burgers and fries? Have you always snuck food? Have you lied about how much you've eaten; to yourself and to others? Have you always felt bad about your body? Do you feel uncomfortable in your clothes? Is it hard to go shopping for clothes? Have you always felt shame? Have you always wished you could do the things you see others do? Do you get mad at yourself when you get cravings?  Have you tried “everything”without success? Do you feel out of control?

Then Let's Go Deeper...

If you have been fit and healthy in your life, I want you to close your eyes and remember how you felt in your body then. Feel the feelings you had then; smell the smells and see the sights. Remember who you spent your time with, your routines, your rituals. Remember your dedication and determination. When did you exercise? What were your favourite exercises? Think back and remember how much you ate, drank, slept. What were you eating then? What were you drinking? Who were you then? Take yourself back into that body…your body…from just a short while ago…

If you have never been fit and healthy, I want you to close your eyes. I want you to imagine what it feels like to be at your perfect weight. I want you to imagine waking up early and feeling wonderful. I want you to imagine bouncing out of bed and feeling no heaviness or pain. Put on your clothes and imagine them fitting you perfectly. What are your activities? What do you like to do? What does it look like to be able to exercise? What exercises are you doing? Imagine walking into a restaurant without feeling self conscious about the way you look. Think about the food you order as a healthy person. What are you eating? Who are you with? How do you feel?

Remember James

At first, you may feel like it is stupid to visualize being fit again or for the first time, but that is just our brains wanting us to keep things the same. That's how our brains work; they like habits and rituals. They don't like us messing around with what they know and what they are comfortable with.

In order to create new neural pathways in our brains, we have to replace behaviours.

We replace behaviours using our emotions. And if we can feel the way we want to feel by visualizing what it is that we want, we can begin the process of change.

You may feel like you will never be able to get out of your current situation. It may feel too daunting a task to lose weight and be fit again or for the first time. This is especially true for people with a lot of weight to lose, but it is challenging for anyone.

Whenever you feel it is too tough, I want you to remember James.

Remember his commitment, day in and day out...for years. Drenched in sweat, every single day, for years. Eating meals he'd prepared at home, drinking litres of water every day, and snacking on vegetables...for years.

Decide, with emotion, to stop doing what you are doing.

Believe you can do it and set up a system for success in your home and

and do one thing to move your

Reward yourself in non-food ways and do a little bit more tomorrow.

Visualize yourself becoming healthier, fitter, leaner.

Visualize how it feels to love yourself and your body.

You can do this. It is possible. Your life is waiting.


Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.


P.S. Please tell me if this post served you or inspired you in some way. Please comment below and share this post with your friends and loved ones if you think it can help them. Thank you.

P.P.S If you are struggling with your weight, one of the best ways to begin to see where you need support is by writing down everything you eat and drink in a day. Please download my Food-Mood Journal or just start keeping track and you will be amazed at what this tool can teach you about your habits. Be sure to track your water intake and your sleep, as well.


P.P.S.S. Let's be friends! Connect with me on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. 🙂


  • rogermain

    Reply Reply November 10, 2015

    Love this post! And I loved getting to listen to it 🙂

    • Sarah Roberts

      Reply Reply November 10, 2015

      I’m so glad! 🙂

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