We first met Dee at our January onramp. As our busiest onramp of the year, we’re used to enthusiastic people around that time, “new year, new me” and all that, but Dee seemed to have something a little bit more about him. Smashing through his onramp, he completed his first (scaled) Fran first out of the whole group.
Unlimited membership was soon to follow, along with questions of “How often can I train?”, “Am I allowed to come twice a day?”… To which my answer was “No Dee, you’re a Crossfit beginner, if you train twice a day you’ll end up run down and injured.” That’s what I said. But what Dee heard was “Yes, of course, 3 times if possible!”
Everyone in the gym knows him, but no one in the gym can beat him. If Dee is doing the WOD with you, you’re aiming for second place. Always a smile on his face, never a WOD to hard or too long, never a challenge too challenging, Dee will be the first to start and the last to give up. Just over a month after he joined he’d already entered his first Crossfit competition alongside people who’d been training for years – and held his own pretty well.
But pretty soon after he joined we found out something surprising about him. Just two years earlier, he had been over double the bodyweight he was now.
At 203kg (32st), January 2014, Dee begun the hardest journey of his life.
“It started off as a New Year’s resolution. I needed to lose weight for my health because it was starting to suffer. I made big changes in my diet, started walking and joined my local Slimming World.”
After only a month, he lost 12kg (2st) and took the step of joining a gym. Each session he spent 20 minutes on a bike, 20 minutes on a treadmill, doing as much as he could. 3 months down the line Dee was sitting at 154kg (24.3st).
“I gave myself a year and half to lose as much weight as possible. I gave myself mini goals as I went, like 3 stone at a time - which didn't seem so bad. My goal at the start was to get to 20 stone (127kg) never ever thought I'd get to 14 stone (88kg).
The biggest challenge I faced was learning how to eat right and control portion sizes that I ate. Plus joining a gym without having a clue what to do - no one really wants to help the new guy, but I never gave up on it”
“The worst moments for me were when you’d work so hard, eating right and exercising, then standing on the scales and not have lost any weight - or even worse put weight on, plus seeing everyone out at the weekends enjoying themselves. But I had to make changes and fortunately for me it paid off in the end.
When I hit my target weight [of 20st] was my best moment, then just kept moving the target lower and hitting it every time. Being able to go and buy new clothes in normal clothes shops and seeing myself improving in the gym was amazing – I could feel myself getting fitter as the weeks went by”
To take his fitness to the next level, Dee bought a bike and started going cycling on his own. 6 months later, he was completely hooked. Almost a year after he began his weight loss, Dee joined a cycling club called SMCC and started physically challenging himself more than he ever had before, completing some serious long distance cycling.
“Motivation for me was simple. I keep a picture of when I was at my biggest, and when I felt like giving up I just looked at it told myself I'd never go back to this. Even to this very day I still do the same when I feel like getting pizza or Chinese, I just look back at the picture and remember who I used to be.”
2016 was looming, marking 2 years since the beginning of Dee’s radical changes. His next step was to successfully qualify for surgery for excess skin removal; which occurs when you lose so much weight so quickly; but he had hit a plateau:
“I was stuck at 14st 10lb, and I needed to shift that bit of weight that I just couldn’t get rid of. I’d heard Jenny [long standing Varangian!] talking about Crossfit and heard of a few other people trying it. Plus I wanted a new challenge and to build some muscle. Since I’ve started with Varangian I’ve lost nearly another stone (6kg) [around 6 months at time of writing], not to mention put on muscle, and my fitness has gone through the roof!”
“In my opinion if you want to lose weight, the most important this is you have to be willing to change your lifestyle; no one else can do it for you. Then comes nutrition, you really do have to start thinking about what you’re putting into your body. I had to teach myself what was good what wasn’t; I had to learn how to cook right and how to cook meals from scratch. Only then comes exercise, it helps you in a big way to get rid of a few extra pounds, plus keeps your head in a good place.
"But main advice from me would be you have to WANT to lose weight. There’s no point trying to do it half heartily. You have to do it for yourself, no one else. It’ll be the hardest thing you’ll have ever done, you’ll constantly be battling with yourself, but I can tell you that the sense of achievement when you hit your target weight is amazing. When you can see your whole body shape change, there is no better feeling. My only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner.”
“I just want say a massive thank you to the Varangian coaching team Tomek, Tom, Jenni and Maciej for helping me over the last 6 months and especially over this last week I've finally hit my last target weight which I'd been struggling to get to since before Christmas. I've been at Varangian for 6 months now, my weight's down and strength and fitness is unbelievable - not to mention I'm doing things I'd thought I'd never be doing such as Crossfit competitions. Again guys thanks for advice and pushing me to my limits”
We’ve only known Dee for the last part of his journey, and despite not knowing him as he was, we know who he is now. He’s the guy who’s in twice a day, who works on his weaknesses, who pushes through every barrier he faces; every single one of us is happy to train alongside him and we're proud to call him a Varangian.