Major Weight Loss and Significant Spinal Surgery Recoveries: Dawn Bryant, 140 pounds lighter after one year and defining strong

I never went looking for a trainer…or a gym. Let alone a family. But that’s what I found. And it was the most profound change of my life.

I knew I needed to do something about the 286 pounds I was carrying around. I thought about it every moment. No one would know that, because people don’t like to admit that stuff. I pretended it was a non-issue. I purposefully over-emphasized my strengths so people (including myself) would forget that I was heavy…so that they’d only see my heart and passion. It wasn’t that I didn’t like myself…but the reality is my body and health were keeping me from being ALL of me.

Health wise, I would get winded running up steps in my own house. I purposefully ate before doctor’s appointments so that they couldn’t do bloodwork to check my cholesterol or sugar levels. I was afraid of what the numbers would say. My blood pressure was creeping up, my resting pulse was high. My knees and back ALWAYS hurt. And if I exercised at all, I had trouble breathing.

I was stressed. I was busy. I was exhausted.

I’d tried losing the weight on my own, tried several trendy do-it-yourself and organizationally-managed diets, and had gym memberships (and never went!). This stubborn “I can do it myself” girl couldn’t do it herself.

And then there’d be days when my back hurt so intensely that I could barely move.

I felt stuck in a cycle of disappointment.

When I walked in the door at the gym, I didn’t really know what to expect. The environment intrigued me. The loyalty of the clientele fascinated me.

And then I met Jason.

I immediately trusted him. He was smart. He was relational. He was REAL. When we chatted, I asked him why he does what he does. In my mind, it was a test. I wanted to know if he could give me an answer that wasn’t canned. He told me it was personal, and then he told me why. He had a story…he wasn’t afraid to share it…and he was using it to change people’s lives. It was in that moment that I knew I needed to be a part of what was happening with the Bodies by Burgoon family. I hadn’t even had my first workout, but it didn’t matter. I was in.

Yes, my legs hurt so bad from lunges that I couldn’t walk down stairs comfortably for a week. Yes, I was horrified to learn I couldn’t run to the “second fence” without nearly dying. Yes, I threw up regularly my first couple months there.

BUT. I’ll never forget my first real workout with a young woman in a wheelchair (who now is walking, by the way!). I’ll never forget the day a a very fit woman ran “high knees” with me to the fence and back so that I wasn’t alone and could leave feeling encouraged. I’ll never forget the many moments another woman who’d already lost a ton of weight encouraged me every step of every “run up to the stop sign, and back.” I’ll never forget the day an energized workout duo welcomed me with a giant hug and told me I was beautiful. I’ll never forget the day I laughed hard playing a made-up game of “two square” on the mats in the corner with one of the brightest and most energetic women I’ve ever known. I’ll never forget the day when someone noticed I had back muscles. I’ll never forget the day when Jason told me I was an athlete.

The “I’ll never forget” moments are, actually, uncountable.

I lost 150 pounds (and now rest, comfortably at about 125 pounds lost) because of the Bodies by Burgoon family… people who believed in me more than I believed in myself…a family led by a person who saw who I was before I could even see who I was…all people who amaze me DAILY with each individual’s unique drive.

I wanted to succeed because everyone else knew I could. It made me believe I could control my eating with Jason’s guidance. It made me believe I didn’t need to make midnight runs to McDonalds. It made me believe I didn’t need to build every single day around three rich and elaborate meals. It made me believe I could clock, literally, hundreds of hours on the Stairmaster for about six months. It made me believe that I was actually strong enough to train six days each week. It made me believe I could actually run several miles.

And it wasn’t just about weight loss or gaining strength. My health journey helped me through three spinal surgeries (one situation leaving me with life-threatening complications and significant neuropathy in my feet and legs), and even through the loss of my father. Health and fitness, I learned, was FAR MORE than just physical. It made every ounce of me a better and stronger person — which was good for me and everyone surrounding me).

In my time with Bodies by Burgoon, I’ve not only become very healthy and fit, I’ve become more me than I’ve ever been. And I love that. It’s freeing. It’s empowering. I’m stronger physically, emotionally, and mentally than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve experienced the truest most genuine in friendship and encouragement. The gym and the people burst a well of passion inside of me that I didn’t know existed. And, I can’t turn it off. I want people to experience a transformation of strength like what I’ve experienced. And I’ll do anything to make it happen.

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