Our names are Jean-Luc Pharand and Nicolas Tremblay, and this is our "fat to fit" journey by embracing healthy eating and regular exercise with the help of WW and GoodLife Fitness.
Jean Luc's Story...
I don’t remember a moment in my life where I can say I wasn't overweight. Regular exercise was not part of my life and with school gym class emphasizing organized sports, I would try to participate but usually ended up being benched. I gave up trying to include fitness in my life and never looked back. When I was a teen, I could see I wasn't like everyone else; I had a belly and didn’t fit in with the jocks and thought I would be a bigger guy for the rest of my life. When I turned 18, I decided that I needed to make a change and I had to lose weight, so I joined WW. The WW program worked for a while, but I ended up quitting before I achieved any noticeable weight loss. Since I was not into sports, I never thought of exercise to lose weight. My weight has always been a struggle for me for my entire life. Even after coming out I tried to get into shape, but it never worked.
I have been obese my entire life. If I look back at my childhood, I was always teased and ridiculed about my weight. I always felt doomed because obesity is prevalent on both sides of my family and I dreamt every day of being thin and "pretty". This self-loathing continued into my adulthood and after coming out and accepting myself for who I am, I began my journey to lose weight. During my last year of University, I weighed over 300lbs. I worked hard on improving my eating habits and going to the gym for the first time. I succeeded on this new path and lost over 75lbs, but this success was short-lived because my routine was interrupted when I completed my degree and began working full-time.
Our combined story began in September 2008 when we started dating. We had both moved to Mississauga a year prior to begin new careers in the GTA. Nicolas had been struggling to lose weight at that time and decided to join Goodlife Fitness to be able to use their cardio machines. After we both met, Jean-Luc decided to join as well. Jean-Luc was very skeptical about joining the gym because, in his eyes, only fit people went to the gym. We both began attending the gym semi-regularly but never embraced the gym life until years later.
Flash-forward to 2011, 5 months prior to our wedding, we both decided we needed to lose some weight and get a handle on our health. To jumpstart the process, we decided to try a cleanse which was unsuccessful and lasted a single day. Desperate, we decided to join WW. Joining WW seemed to work for us because we both managed to lose some weight. This success was short-lived. After our wedding, our food addiction got the best of us and we slowly restarted to put on more weight. We also relied heavily on the program itself and did not embrace physical activity at the time.
In 2015, we tried to embrace a new lifestyle again and went back to WW and started seeing success with their new Points Plus program. At the same time, we also embraced physical activity by using our Goodlife Fitness membership to do some cardio exercises and joining group exercise classes (Body Attack, Step, Pump and Flow). We both feel that in 2015, we had found the right formula for our new life; however, due to injuries a few months into our transformation, we both stopped exercising. Even though we had both lost considerable amounts of weight (Jean-Luc 70lbs and Nicolas 50lbs), we still had not been able to fully embrace what being healthy could do for us and again we went down a spiral of eating and drinking and we both gained weight. By 2017, we had both hit rock-bottom and had given up any hope of ever being healthy. We gave away all our thin clothes and canceled our WW membership. We also put our Goodlife membership on hold at the time since we never visited the gym. We were both on a path of self-destruction through bad eating habits and laziness and had accepted that we simply would be obese for the rest of our lives.
Things changed by the end of 2017. In November, both of us went to the doctors for a routine checkup. At the time, Nick weighed in at 289lbs and Jean-Luc weighed 271lbs. Jean-Luc had been experiencing pain in his back and his feet where in so much pain he could barely stand for more than 5 minutes. After seeing the doctor, Jean-Luc was diagnosed with a fatty liver and found out he had planters fasciitis and a deteriorating Achilles tendon all of which could result in medical interventions. Nicolas was diagnosed with high blood pressure and was put on medication to help treat the problem. At home, both of us had digestive issues, heartburn was a recurring nuisance and we ingested Pepto Bismol, Zantac and Tums as though we were breathing them. We were also very out of shape where even climbing a single flight of stairs was near impossible and Jean-Luc was even prescribed inhalers to help with his constant wheezing. This was our wake-up call. We both knew something had to be done and we knew that if our habits didn't change we would both end up in an early grave.
In mid-December, we had a conversation about where we were heading. Nick was fearful that if things remained as they were, he would die by the age of 50 like many in his family. Meanwhile, Jean-Luc did not want to have health complications due to his weight anymore and wanted to help reverse the effects he had had on his body. So, Nick proposed a 3-month Detox to improve our eating and to bring back daily exercise in our daily routine.
We did it slowly… starting in December; we downloaded the Carrot Rewards app and began tracking our daily steps. We walked at home and at work and made sure to reach our step goal every day. During the first week of January, we rejoined WW and started our detox by eliminating problem foods from our diet including: chips, pop, alcohol, pasta, potatoes, candy, chocolate, ice cream, red meat and more. We started embracing a plant-based diet and making food from scratch and sticking to healthier lean meats (chicken and turkey). We weighed and measured all the food we ate and made sure to eat all our meals and to portion everything we ate throughout the day. The detox lasted the entire 3 months and on April 1st, we started to re-introduce some of the foods we had eliminated from our diet (some we still do not touch).
By the end of February, we had both lost a bit of weight and realized that our daily walking was now easy. We had reached 15000+ steps a day and needed a new challenge. Goodlife Fitness came to our rescue. We reinstated our membership and started attending the gym a few days a week. We would do an Aqua Zumba class on Saturday mornings and cardio machines throughout the week (at the time, it was usually Stairmaster for short amounts of time and treadmill). Throughout February and March, our stamina improved, and we increased our workouts to 1.5 hours 5 days a week and even started to run on the treadmill and use the elliptical. Throughout this time, we also began doing other group exercise classes like Body Step and Body Attack where the encouragement of our instructors kept us motivated to do better. During these months we also purchased an Apple Watch to help us track our activity and help us achieve a daily exercise threshold to help us lose weight.
At the end of March, we both decided to add a new challenge for ourselves. We decided to try and go to the gym for the most consecutive days in a row that we could. From March 18th to July 3rd, we did just that and went to a gym or exercised a minimum of 1300 calories daily for 108 consecutive days. This is when we realized the importance of activity for health and happiness. During this time, our bodies responded by dropping weight at a fast rate and we also realized a good balance between eating well, exercising and living our lives to the fullest.
Cut to today, both of us are nothing like our former selves. Jean-Luc now weighs 177.6 and has lost a total of 94.6lbs and has reached his goal weight. He can now complete Body Attack and Body Step classes with ease and can even run a 10K on the treadmill. His fatty liver has reverted to a healthier state and he no longer has issues with his feet. Breathing has also become easier and he has not had to use in inhalers in a year. Nicolas now weighs 176.9lbs and has lost a total of 112.1lbs. He no longer has high blood pressure and can also complete Body Attack and Body Step classes and can climb the Stairmaster for 1 hour climbing over 400 floors. We both feel like athletes now and completed the CN Tower Climb for the United Way in 16 minutes back in November. For the new year, we want to push ourselves even further by attempting to climb the CN Tower under 15 minutes, we want to try rock-wall climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, run a 10K and complete the Edge Walk on the CN Tower.
Throughout this journey, something unexpected happened. Both of us started talking about our path to healthy living and the changes we had made to our lives and noticed that friends and family were inspired by us. Our circle of friends and family began their own weight loss journeys, and many have been successful themselves. We realized that our story is something to be shared and we now work on trying to help others achieve success with their own lifestyle changes. In July, we started filming YouTube videos and started a Facebook page and Twitter feed where we shared our journey, recipes and our tips for turning your life around and living a healthy life! Because of our passion to help others, and our YouTube channel, WW took notice, and decided to include us in their campaign for 2019. The commercial launched in late 2018 and since then our subscribers have increased which led us to start this website. We hope those reading our journey feel inspired and try to improve their own lives. If the two of us can do it, we can assure you can too!