Losing weight with help
Andrew Mcloughlin is breathing hard as he reaches the top of the stairs.
But, that doesn't stop him from marching back down, and right back up. Then, moving on to weights, squats, lunges, and so on for the next hour.
The 40-year-old Courtenay man has been training at Comox Valley Boxing Club twice a week for nearly a year.
Mcloughlin weighed more than 500 pounds a year ago.
Now, he weighs 389 pounds.
"It feels awesome," he says with a huge smile, as he takes a short break from his workout to tell his story. "I got a whole new set of clothes, eating habits are 10 times better, I've got more confidence in me, walking's a lot easier. About a year ago I had over 100 pounds (more weight) on me … so I can do a heck of a lot more stuff now."
For example, Mcloughlin can now bend down to tie his shoes instead of finding somewhere to prop up his foot first to reach his feet. Walking no longer causes him so much pain in his joints as it did a year ago. He's stopped taking most of the medications he used to need, such as pills to help combat his high blood pressure.
As well, after six years on disability income due to his weight, Mcloughlin can now work.
"I'm now employed — I've got a full-time job and I'm loving it," grins Mcloughlin. "I've got the confidence in me that I can conquer anything now."
Mcloughlin says he made the decision to lose weight for himself and his family, who were worried about his health. One of his cousins told him he had to lose weight or it was going to kill him, which Mcloughlin says gave him a wakeup call.
He kept telling his friend, Comox Valley Boxing Club owner Jonny Mac, that he was going to come down to the club one day. Mac says when that 'one day' just wasn't coming, he asked Mcloughlin why, and when he found out finances were an issue, Mac offered to train Mcloughlin for free.
Since mid-April last year Mcloughlin has without fail shown up twice a week for personal training sessions with Mac, who quickly throws out the words 'determination' and 'inspiration' to describe Mcloughlin's efforts.
At first, says Mac, Mcloughlin had to use the club's back entrance because he couldn't navigate the Fifth Street entrance's steep stairs — which he now goes up and down as part of his workout.
Mac developed workouts Mcloughlin could do, and over time, made them more challenging. Mac stresses the importance of a personal trainer, especially in the beginning, as they tailor a workout to best fit a person's goals.
As well, Mcloughlin swims and exercises at the Lewis Centre, making sure he's active four days of the week.
He has a large following of people watching his progress on Facebook, something Mac had suggested to help keep Mcloughlin accountable in his efforts.
Mcloughlin says the community support has been amazing, noting he was given healthy foods, like local produce and wild game and fish, when he wasn't yet working and couldn't afford healthy food. Fitness Etc. and PVL Sports Nutrition gave Mcloughlin a year's worth of supplements he couldn't afford to buy. Many people offered continuous words of encouragement, which helped Mcloughlin keep going, too.
"It was mind blowing, and I thank every single one of them," says Mcloughlin, adding he plans to lose another 150 pounds and get into good enough shape to climb the Comox Glacier.
"Seventeen years ago my Dad passed away. His one wish was to have his ashes scattered on the glacier and I haven't been able to do that. So that's another goal."
Mcloughlin challenges others who know they need to lose weight to join him down at the boxing club. Anyone interested can contact Jonny Mac at 250-898-7444 or visit www.cvboxingclub.com. To follow Mcloughlin's progress, find him on Facebook.