How One Man Lost More Than Half His Body Weight

Working with a caring and compassionate trainer helped Josh get his life back.

By Ryan Halvorson
Jan 19, 2015

client: Josh personal trainer: Kevin Buchanek, Personally Fit by Chris Hill location: Longview, Texas

Intervention. At 493 pounds and with a pants waist size of 78, Josh was close to hitting rock bottom. The significant weight he carried caused him to lose his job and his house, forcing him to move in with his parents. Concerned for his well-being, Josh’s family encouraged him to seek guidance from a qualified fitness professional. That’s when he met Kevin Buchanek, a personal trainer at Personally Fit by Chris Hill.

“Josh was very reserved and consumed by his weight problems, causing him to be self-conscious in social situations,” recalls Buchanek. “I was impressed with Josh’s bravery at entering a facility like ours, but at the same time I wondered if he would
be successful.”

Awareness. As an experienced professional, Buchanek was well aware that someone of Josh’s size would feel awkward in a gym, so the trainer made every effort to maximize his new client’s comfort level.

“First, we looked at our schedule and found the time when we had the fewest people in the gym. Second, we did most of Josh’s initial evaluation behind closed doors. Third, we discussed exercises that he could do, in the privacy of his home, to add to what we were doing in the gym.”

The evaluation Buchanek mentions included weight, body fat and blood pressure measurements. Josh also performed a 3-minute step test and a squat test.

“Josh also met with our owner and certified nutrition specialist, Chris Hill, for a metabolic test,” says Buchanek. “This allowed us to set Josh on an eating plan that limited his calorie intake and contained a simple-to-follow menu.”

Foundation. In the beginning, Buchanek opted for uncomplicated workout programs.

“We started with the major muscle groups, incorporating band chest press, straight-arm pull-down and rows, and moved to band biceps curls and triceps push-downs,” Buchanek says of the initial workouts. “We had to limit lower-body weight-bearing exercises for the first few workouts due to the pressure already on his knees from his weight.

“We started with three sets of 12 exercises and quickly moved to mini circuits using three exercises per circuit to get his heart rate up,” adds Buchanek. “Josh was winded just walking across the gym, so we had to increase his endurance while keeping him strong.”

Since the pair met only once per week, the sessions included guidance on how to perform solo workouts several other times per week. Buchanek says he devoted the first 10–15 minutes of each session to determining what Josh was thinking or concerned about on that day.

Struggle. Josh adapted well to the exercise program and was more than willing to try anything his trainer asked of him. However, his greatest struggle stemmed from his love of fast food. Buchanek connected Josh with a support group to help him kick his junk-food habit.

“I understood Josh’s thought process and what he went through when he was tempted by food,” he says. “I gave him tips such as throwing away old food wrappers that were still in his car. I also told him to do everything he could to avoid driving by his favorite fast-food joints and to call me when he was having a craving so I could talk him through it.”

Determination. Eventually, new habits—such as buying good-quality groceries—began to take hold. Those new habits, coupled with Buchanek’s consistent support, helped Josh lose more than 260 pounds. He now shops for pants with a waist size of 40 instead of 78.

“Josh came to our gym depressed, overweight and at the end of his rope,” explains the trainer. “He was consumed by his obesity, which made it difficult for him to be social. He now has many supporters in the gym who encourage him, and he is willing to have conversations with them. He has no difficulty looking people in the eye now.”

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Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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