On June 13, 2012, Brad Durby decided his life wasn’t over yet. At 456 pounds, the 1978 Nevada High School graduate decided it was time to change.
Nine months later, he had lost 205 pounds.
He shared his journey with the Nevada community last Wednesday evening, June 26.
"I’m Brad Durby and I’m addicted to food," is how he typically begins his success story, but this time he found himself surrounded by friends and supporters, so there was no need to introduce himself.
Brad weighed 215 pounds when he graduated high school. He played baseball for the Cubs and led an active lifestyle.
Following graduation, he went to DMACC in Boone for 2 years, then continued his college education in Tennessee. He eventually settled in South Carolina, where he lives now.
"I would say that I put most of my weight on in about 15 years," he said. "It was a series of depressions and stresses and challenges of life and knee surgeries … it just doesn’t happen overnight."
His jail cell
"That was my jail," Brad said of his pre-weight-loss body. His weight caused joint pain, back pain, serious breathing difficulties, sleep problems, elevated blood pressure and high cholesterol. He was concerned about the possibility of a heart attack or stroke.
A day after playing dodgeball, the left-handed Brad had pain in his left arm. He worried he was having a heart attack.
He missed opportunities. His son, Drew, wanted to be a quarterback, but his dad couldn’t go out for a pass, so Drew learned to be a receiver instead.
Wherever the family went, Brad’s children had been trained to search for the chair with no arm rests so he wouldn’t get stuck.
Up until that June day, he had accepted that he would be that way for the remainder of his life. But his friends and family had other plans for him.
During a meeting with the head pastor and youth pastor at his church, he struggled to get out of his seat. Head pastor Jerry LaFave and youth pastor Manny Vela took advantage of the opportunity to hold a mini-intervention for him.
When Brad hesitated to take LaFave up on his offer to go to the gym together, Vela chimed in with their true concerns.
"’We care about you, but we also care about the kids, and we’re afraid that you’re going to drop dead in front of them and that’s not fair,’" Brad paraphrased.
Being a full-time principal and teacher at a church-school organization, these words resounded with Brad. "I knew he was right. That struck the chord right there," he said.
"I didn’t know what was going to happen, what the program was, how it was going to go," Brad said. "But when I left that room, I knew I was going to do something different than I had been doing."
The next day, he attended a meeting about the Take Shape For Life program by MediFast along with his wife, Christy. Another man at his church had lost more than 100 pounds using the program, so Brad decided to give it a try. He began the day after the meeting.
The program, designed by a physician, requires participants to eat five MediFast packaged meals at 110 calories, and one "lean and green" meal per day. It does not require exercise. Brad said he ended up working out because he could, not because he had to.
"Every time I went between meals without eating something I wasn’t supposed to, I won," he said. "Every victory made me stronger."
The Take Shape For Life program provides a free coach to those who participate. It is designed to help participants lose two to five pounds per week.
"My biggest inspiration is actually my coach, Jane Bottsford," Brad said. "She has been my biggest inspiration through all of this, and then of course, my family and support have been tremendous."
Brad has always had a sense of humor about his weight.
"I would always make jokes about myself before anyone else could," he said. "I would come running into the room late for class and say ‘I’m so sorry I’m late; I jumped into the air and got stuck’ or something like that."
One April Fool’s Day, he posted a two-part joke to Facebook that consisted of two status updates. The first said "I lost 100 pounds," while the second followed up with "I found it! It was in the mirror."
But now, Brad has other reasons to smile. He has a sense of pride in his accomplishment, and wears the changes in his body as a badge of honor.
"My chest is weird because it used to have so much fat inside," he said with a grin. He doesn’t have to take his blood pressure and cholesterol medicines anymore. He can bend over to tie his shoes, a feat he could not accomplish before he lost weight. His pain has subsided. His kids don’t have to search for chairs without armrests anymore.
"They were treating me like I was already dead. Think about what a kid has to process: ‘My parents probably aren’t going to live much longer, so I have to start mentally preparing for that,’" he said. "You have to know what your ‘why’ is. My ‘why’ was my kids."
While his father was speaking to a man about his weight loss, Drew told the man, with tears in his eyes, that it was "good to have my dad back."
Part of Brad’s "bucket list" for after he lost weight was to pitch batting practice for the Cubs baseball team. Last Tuesday, June 25, he did just that.
"I had a great time out there throwing at batting practice. I got a chance to take some cuts; they threw me some batting practice. It was a wonderful time."
Sharing his lesson
When he first heard about a member of his church finding success through Take Shape For Life, Brad believed he was the one person who would be able to fail at the program.
He had tried many different diets before and felt sure he would give up on this one as well. But he lost 205 pounds in nine months and has not gained weight for three months.
He believes anyone can accomplish what he did.
"If I could do it, they can do it," he said. "If someone like me could do it, then it really is attainable."
Brad wants to impact others with his story and help them get healthy.
"Now I get to pay it forward; I get to try to help other people," he said. "It does my heart the most good to be able to help other people."
His top five nutritional pointers are to drink lots of water, take in low amounts of sodium, avoid sugar, make sure to eat enough, and to recognize emotional triggers which cause you to eat.
Anyone interested in hearing more about Brad’s story or using him as a health coach can contact him at 864-804-7817.
"I’d love for them to call me," he said.
To learn more about the program Brad used, contact Steve Cassabaum at 21st Century Rehab by calling 515-382-2543, or Mark Blankespoor at Work Systems Rehab & Fitness in Pella by calling 641-621-0230.