Success Story: Brian Myers
Firefighters should be fit. But when he couldn’t carry his gear without stopping to catch his breath, it set off an alarm that changed his life.
Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO
Weight Before: 265 lbs
Weight After: 185 lbs
Pickup basketball shouldn’t sideline you for two weeks, especially if you’re a firefighter. But when Brian Myers, from Colorado Springs, CO, got together with some buddies to shoot a few games of hoops a couple of years ago, he was stunned by how his body reacted. “The next morning, it took me 20 minutes just to be able to walk,” he says. “Here I am in my mid-30s, and I could barely get out of bed after an hour of exercise.”
Although Myers had been lifting weights off and on for years, he rarely did cardio, and he ate whatever he wanted, including several coffee cups full of ice cream daily. “If it was good, I was going to eat a lot of it,” he says. Combine those bad habits with communal meals in the firehouse, and it’s easy to see how anyone could fall into the trap, gaining 10 to 15 pounds a year and finally topping out at a miserable 265. Laid up in bed with sore knees, Myers knew it was time to finally make a change.
First, he tackled his poor diet, moving to small, protein-based meals in place of the crap he’d been eating. “The carb stuff, I pretty much quit cold turkey,” he says. Instead, at every meal he began aiming for 25 to 40 grams of protein from healthy meats like chicken, fish, and venison, plus plenty of steamed veggies.
To satisfy his penchant for dessert, he learned to love chocolate-flavored protein shakes. Myers also stopped eating the firehouse meals altogether and started brown-bagging his lunch—something that earned him grief from coworkers. “There was some harassment, there’s no doubt,” says Myers, “but you’ve got to battle that. I had to make this happen.”
Finally, he began interval cardio, starting with 20 to 30 minutes on an exercise bike a few times a week and increasing the time as he became stronger. In between, he alternated upper and lower-body lifting sessions.
Eventually, Myers was in good enough shape to win a spot in the firefighters’ annual calendar. At 185 pounds, he was Mr. May 2011. “There was no doubt I was happy to be chosen,” he says, “but what was more important was how I felt.”
And he still feels great, particularly now that his old habits are firmly behind him. “To me, it was a lifestyle change,” he says, “and the start of a whole new life.”
Brian's Tip: Watch What You Eat
“I think I could have exercised until I was blue in the face, but if I continued eating the way I was, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to transform my body.”