My Y Story: Chuck

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Left: Chuck in 2019; Right: Chuck in Jan. 2020

 

“I’ve been through a lot in my life, but I don’t let it knock me down. I use it as motivation.”

 

In July 2019, Chuck was in a dark place in his life. Nearly 600 pounds and on antidepressants and other medications, he says he could barely walk without getting tired. “When people get depressed, they like to eat, smoke, and drink. I would constantly eat and sleep, and I was gaining a lot of weight. I was killing myself,” he says.

Chuck says two things happened that made him change his perspective on life: his doctor and his ten-year-old daughter. “I went to see my colon doctor and she had to put me to sleep for a procedure. While I was under, I saw my late grandmother. She told me to get back to work and keep fighting. When I woke up, I told my doctor about what I saw, and she motivated me to get back into the gym and focus on myself and my health.” Not long after, Chuck says he got a phone call from his young daughter that solidified his decision to get well. “My daughter said to me, ‘Daddy, can you do me a favor? Can you please work out? Because I don’t want you to die.’ He took that emotional plea to heart and decided to make a change.

Chuck drastically changed his eating habits and started working out six days a week at the YMCA. He admits it wasn’t easy in the beginning. “When I first got to the Y, I could barely walk without breathing heavy. I had to use the elevator to get to the Wellness Center. I started out doing five minutes of cardio,” he says. Fast forward six months later, and you’ll see Chuck doing an hour of cardio, running the track, and swimming laps in the pool without missing a beat. “It’s like a job to me,” he says. “It’s a way for me to stay focused so I don’t fall back into that dark place. I’m a whole different person now.”

Chuck has become a familiar face at the YMCA and is a source of motivation for both members and staff alike. “A lot of people say they look up to me,” he says. “But what they don’t know is that they motivate me to be better. When I see elderly people with walkers or canes on the track, there’s no excuse for me not to be here working on myself, too.” Chuck recalls a specific interaction that he says really touched his heart. “I was working out one day and a young kid came up to me and said, ‘Mr. Chuck, I just wanted to tell you that I’m proud of you’. It really got me emotional. It’s incredible what God is doing for me.”

Chuck says the more time he spends at the Y, the more people he meets. “It’s an opportunity for me to share my story,” he says. “I thank God every day because I could have been dead. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but I don’t let it knock me down. I use it as motivation in the gym. I even cry sometimes, because it’s all my past pain coming out.”

Now seven months into his wellness journey, Chuck has lost more than 175 pounds and shows no signs of slowing down. But more importantly, he’s gained a new, positive outlook on life. “Sometimes you need a spark to get yourself going, and I thank God that my daughter called me that day. I’m doing this for her,” he says. “Two words: don’t stop. I was in a dark place months ago. Now, I’m going towards the light.”

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