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WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE: Man Drops 400lbs in 2 Years, Conquers Detroit Half Marathon

I frickin’ love it. Conquer your mountains people!

By Chelsea Hohn

On October 19, Brian Flemming of Canton, Michigan finished the Detroit-Windsor International Half-Marathon. For Flemming, it was a milestone. Since he began his journey to lose weight two years ago, he has lost almost 400 pounds, stopped drinking, and run numerous other races.

It started with the mobile app Draw Something. Flemming was paired up with Jackie Eastham, a woman living outside of London, England. Through playing the game together, the two became friends and eventually chatted more and more, but Flemming never really revealed his weight. He was over 600 pounds, with a serious drinking problem and a serious case of depression. Things weren’t looking good for Flemming. “I didn’t tell her how big I was at first, only bits and pieces, she only saw photos from the neck up.” Eventually, at a low point, he opened up to Jackie and expected sympathy.

Instead, she got angry. “You’re pissing your life up a wall,” she said. She told him he had wasted his life, and stopped talking to him. Eastham has myotonic dystrophy, and in order to keep her symptoms at bay, she has to stay active and healthy—there was no sympathy coming his way from across the Atlantic. Flemming had been overweight since he was young, and attributes some of this to the readily-available junk food in schools. He had spend a good part of a decade on a couch with pizza and vodka, and finally someone came along that made him want to change that.

Flemming didn’t want to lose Eastham, so on October 13, 2012, he quit drinking completely. It was a huge change from the regular fifth of vodka he was drinking a night. It was a struggle, and Flemming didn’t know just how big of a struggle it would be. He suffered cold sweats, couldn’t sleep, and was shaky. Still, he received no sympathy from Eastham, who began to talk to him again. “Jackie was like, ‘Suck it up and deal with it, you’re complaining about shaky hands, there are people with terminal illnesses,’” said Flemming. “She really puts things in perspective for me.”

Then he started walking. First, just five minutes at home in front of the television. Then he added minutes once he was comfortable, eventually reaching an hour. Flemming could hardly walk up a flight of stairs before he started walking in place. He then began running, using the Couch-to-5K app, which helped him get in shape to start running races. He was still over 300 pounds when he began.

Read more: Action Hub