Getting in Shape, and Not Just Physically

Aug 8, 2021 by Brent Stempfle, Success Story

FuelIgniteThrive - Getting in Shape, and Not Just Physically

By the summer of 2015, I had reached rock bottom.

I was living in my parents’ basement, a 26-year-old two-time college dropout with a drinking problem that was out of control. After a particularly rough incident, I had decided to seek out counselling to try and sort out my life. It was here that I was diagnosed with depression and began to truly understand my personal issues.

I grew up in a small oil patch town in Alberta. Recreational activity in this town was nothing more than drinking heavily. As an only child, social interactions with others had always been difficult, and places like school and later work were ofen anxiety inducing. This made my hometown’s love of drinking especially dangerous for me, as alcohol seemed to medicate my issues with anxiety, and helped me forget about my problems.

Through ongoing therapy and personal discovery, I managed to find answers to my problems. Within a year of starting counselling, I had dropped alcohol for good, left home, and by the spring of 2020, finally graduated college. As a communications grad, I settled on the Okanagan as the perfect place to start a new career in the marketing industry. My college even set up a practicum in Kelowna to help me get started in May. I couldn’t wait to cross the mountains and start my new life.

If you’re paying attention to the year that I graduated, you probably know that this wasn’t how things played out. COVID-19 swifty dashed my hopes, at least in the short term. I lost my practicum and with it, any chance to begin networking in the Okanagan. I wouldn’t even be able to move to Kelowna until September, and when I did, I had few connections socially and none professionally. I was alone and unemployed, the perfect combination for the anxieties that I had overcome to creep back into my life. This time, instead of turning to alcohol, I turned to food. Specifically prepackaged food, for which I developed a taste for after hoarding it through quarantines.

By the end of a particularly sugar-laden holiday season, I had begun 2021 at nearly 250 pounds and a body fat percentage over 35%. More than enough for my doctor to determine me clinically obese, but more importantly, enough to again induce me into improving my condition. Luckily, a Google search would lead me to FIT Nutrition’s 8-week program. I had always been averse to diet plans, having fallen into the trap of thinking they would have me starving on tasteless, non-filling morsels of lettuce. Still, it was only eight weeks, which seemed reasonable to attempt.

I was happy to be proven wrong. From my first meeting with Tania, it became apparent that this would not be the stereotypical starve yourself diet, but rather one focused on balance. Sure, I was eating less at meals, but I was eating more often. Yes, many foods were restricted, but there were still so many available that I couldn’t possibly complain. Being forced to cook my food fresh illustrated opportunities for me to find new ways of preparing food that were more health conscious and better tasting. Before long, I realized that this would not just be an 8-week diet, it would be a new way of looking at food from this point forward. In a time of such personal strife, something positive was more than welcome.

While I had developed a new appreciation for foods, my newly found outlook could only be sustained if I had results. The past year had left me in a jaded state where even the most positive feelings could turn south in a near instant. If I didn’t lose any weight, or even if the weight loss took too long to start, it would have been easy to get discouraged and fall back into old patterns. Luckily, this was not an issue. In the first week, I lost more weight than ever on any diet or plan I had tried previously.

I had gone into the program hoping to get down to 220 pounds by the end of the eight weeks. I was already approaching 230 after barely seven days. I began to envision myself as a lean, healthy person. I developed a goal for myself that I wouldn’t just get back to my pre-pandemic weight, I would make sure to reach the best shape of my adult life. Though my social and career aspirations had been forcibly put on hold, I had a new goal to target. For the first time since the pandemic started, my life once again had purpose.

This purpose manifested itself most noticeably in the pursuit of my fitness goals. I had been going to the gym for years, but without the proper nutrition, it had never yielded great results. I was always labouring through workouts, desperately slogging to lift the required number of reps and lift my ever-increasing weight off the floor in body weight exercises. Now, I am lifting more than ever and am springing to my feet. I’ve also taken up running and have steadily improved each fime I venture out. When I first started, I ran from my apartment downtown to the base of Knox Mountain and needed a rest by the time I got there. Now, I can make it nearly a third of the way up!

These achievements are crucial because they’ve helped me to develop a positive outlook not just on fitness or nutrition, but life in general. To reach personal success, you need to first envision yourself succeeding. Some days, it seems like I will never reach my career goals. But it wasn’t long ago that I never thought I could weigh less than 200 pounds. Being able to achieve what I never thought possible has helped me to shed negative perceptions of myself and envision a future that I can look forward to, even in times when the present isn’t so great.

Six months ago, things looked bleak. My personal progress had been halted by circumstances beyond my control, and I didn’t know if I could turn things around. What if things fell apart? What if I ran out of money? What if I lost control of my weight? God forbid, what if I started drinking again? Thankfully, it looks as though the pandemic is waning, but there will always be times when things aren’t good. We all might feel anxious or concerned. Luckily, in working with Tania and FIT Nutrition, I’ve developed a positive outlook for the future. This summer, I am not only five years sober, but I’m 60 pounds lighter, a whole lot better looking, and I feel great.

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