Brian Fleming's life was a mess. He weighed 625 pounds, drank a fifth of vodka every night, and ate nothing but fast food. But fast forward one year - and things are completely different. What happened? Glenn spoke with Brian about this incredible transformation on Wednesday's radio show.
On Tuesday, TheBlaze reported:
Last year, Brian Flemming weighed 625 pounds.
That all changed, however, when the Michigan man virtually met a stranger in England who convinced him to turn his life around. Now, one year later, Flemming is down nearly 400 pounds and is a recovering alcoholic.
But, after losing all that weight, Flemming is still not comfortable taking his shift off in public. A new video published late last week revealed why.
"He has a Facebook page. Team 383," Glenn explained. "It's his weight loss support group. He took his shirt off for that. People have been donating money so he can have the skin removed. But we were sitting here talking about - what is it like to lose almost 400 pounds in a year. Is that even healthy? How did you even do it? And what's your life like? I mean, everything had to have changed for you."
Watch that video below:
Below is a video of the interview, scroll down for the rush transcript:
GLENN: Welcome to the program. Pat and I were reading the Blaze this morning. We found a story about Brian Fleming. He lives in Michigan. And he lost nearly 400 pounds in the last year. And he's a guy who has not felt comfortable taking his shirt off. And he took his shirt off on Facebook. And he has a Facebook page. Team 383. It's his weight loss support group. He took his shirt off for that. People have been donating money so he can have the skin removed. But we were just -- we were sitting here talking about -- what is it like to lose almost 400 pounds in a year. Is that even healthy? How did you even do it? And what's your life like? I mean, everything had to have changed for you. So we decided, pick up the phone and call him. So Brian is on the phone with us now. Hi, Brian.
BRIAN: Hey, good morning.
GLENN: How are you, man?
BRIAN: Oh, I'm great. I'm great. Thanks.
GLENN: What an amazing year you've had. A, how did you decide to lose it? And then how did you lose 400 pounds?
BRIAN: Well, it's a long story. The whole time it took me 18 months altogether to lose 390 pounds.
GLENN: Did your doctor -- was he involved? Is it safe to lose that much that fast?
BRIAN: Well, I did see my doctor every three months while I was losing the weight. I had blood work done. Blood pressure, everything checked up on. I was taking proper medications. And he just kept saying, keep doing what I'm doing because it seemed to be working. But, yeah, it's been a crazy couple of years.
GLENN: So was this the all cocaine diet? How did you lose that much weight that fast?
BRIAN: Well, yeah, I started at 625 pounds. And at the time, I was drinking a fifth of vodka every single night. I was a chronic alcoholic. I was depressed. I was eating nothing but fast food. And I went back and took a look at it. I was eating probably over 7,000 calories per day at my heaviest weight.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh.
BRIAN: Yeah, when I was at my worst, I was playing a video game. Completely randomly got matched up with a woman in London, England. Her name is Jackie Eastham, and we got to know each other playing this random video game. And, you know, I got to know her better. Then eventually I opened up to her and told her how depressed I was and how big I was. And I was expecting some sympathy from her, and I got quite the opposite. She kicked my butt. She basically told me I was throwing my life away and kind of put things into perspective for me.
I found out at the time that she has myotonic dystrophy. It's a form of muscular dystrophy. And she has to stay very fit and very healthy to keep her symptoms at bay. So she saw someone like me throwing my life away, and she just wouldn't have it.
GLENN: Holy cow. What a godsend she was.
PAT: That's a great story.
GLENN: Hang on a second. Have you two met?
BRIAN: Yes, we have actually. Not this past December, but the year before, I went over to meet her in London England. It was the first time I had flown overseas. I went over and spent Christmas and New Year's with her the past two Decembers in a row. And we're best of friends. We're very, very close.
GLENN: Can we call her at some point? We won't call her now. But can we call her? I'd love to talk to her.
BRIAN: Oh, yeah, definitely. Yeah, yeah.
GLENN: Good. Good. Okay. Let's continue the conversation. So what did she say to you, when you told her and you were expecting sympathy, what did she say?
BRIAN: She basically used more colorful language than I can really say on the radio. But she more or less told me I was throwing my life away. Saying there are thousands of people out there that are fighting for their lives, you know, people that don't take their life for granted, and then there's me. I'm thirty years old. I'm just throwing everything away. And she basically just made me question what I was doing with my life. And it was the right motivation I needed at the right time. And October 2012, I quit drinking, cold turkey. And the weight just started pouring off of me after that.
GLENN: So do you go to AA?
BRIAN: Nope. I don't go to AA. I had Jackie as a great support structure when I quit. And she was there for me from the very beginning.
PAT: That's amazing willpower.
GLENN: Boy, I have to tell you, man. Hold on just a second.
You are an alcoholic?
BRIAN: Yes. I'm a recovered alcoholic.
GLENN: Okay. And you are -- and you were drinking how much?
BRIAN: I was drinking a fifth of vodka per night.
GLENN: Holy cow.
PAT: Brian, that's not healthy. Who would have guessed?
GLENN: So that's amazing. So now you then stopped drinking, and then when did you stop eating 7,000 calories a day?
BRIAN: Well, cutting back on the alcohol, I mean, that cut basically 2,000 calories out of my daily diet right there. There's a lot of calories in alcohol, which I'm sure a lot of people may not realize or not. There's a lot of sugar in that as well. But when I cut that out, I noticed once I got over the withdrawals, they were very severe for about a week and a half.
GLENN: I bet they were.
BRIAN: I noticed my belts started to get looser on me. My pants got a little bit baggier, and I noticed my weight started to come off. So I started to think, well, I thought that was hypocritically of me to stop drinking and keep eating all the fast food. So I started cutting back on fast food. I started gradually taking things out of my diet that were unhealthy. And I got to a point where I was consuming a certain number of calories every day. And the weight came off pretty rapidly. The first three months, I lost a pound a day. So I lost nearly 100 pounds in three months.
PAT: That's awesome.
GLENN: There's a picture. We're putting a picture of you on TV now. Where you're standing in your pants, and you have both -- you're standing in one leg of your pants. I mean, it's like you've lost a person. It's amazing.
PAT: So what did you replace the fast food with? Did you just start eating vegetables and -- what was the specific calorie count you went to, to lose the weight?
BRIAN: Well, I couldn't stand vegetables at first. I never really liked them at first.
PAT: Me neither.
BRIAN: It was more cutting out the --
GLENN: Fast food.
BRIAN: The really bad foods. You know, I would typically go to a fast food and get the super-sized meals and get extra Chicken Nuggets with it. The single meal would be 2,000 calories.
PAT: That's what I'm talking about.
GLENN: That's what I'm talking about too. I'm in love with this diet. Wait a minute. This is not the healthy diet, you're saying?
BRIAN: Yeah. Yeah.
GLENN: All right.
BRIAN: Just started making healthier choices. You know, cutting out french fries and eating rice instead. Or, you know, sort of replacing certain menu items with more healthier options. You know, not all the fast food restaurants are entirely bad for you. There are certain items you can eat that are healthier. So I just kind of gradually weaned myself off the really bad stuff.
GLENN: Okay. Now, did you exercise?
BRIAN: I started at just five minutes a day one morning. I woke up and turned on the TV, and I just decided to walk in place for five minutes. That's all I could do at that weight. And I decided to wake up and do that every single morning. I woke up the next morning, I walked in place for five minutes. Turned on the TV. Eventually, I just started adding to that. I got to six, seven, ten minutes. Twenty. Eventually I got up to an hour every single morning. I turned on the TV and walked in place. And it kind of snowballs from there. I ended up walking outside. Then I started bike riding. And I just ran my first half marathon this past October. And I'm planning on running a full marathon this year.
PAT: I don't want to hear this kind of stuff. This is nasty talk now. This has gone completely off the rails.
GLENN: It really has. So we saw the picture of you with your shirt off. And, I mean -- I don't mean to be rude here. It was not a pretty picture. Have you raised money now to -- to have the surgery or not?
BRIAN: Yeah. Well, after losing all that weight, I have about 30 to 40 pounds of excess skin that is left over. And I'm at a point where I'm so active and I'm eating so healthy, I really am not going to lose anymore weight. I'm at the point where I can't do anything about it. And this excess skin has given me back problems. It's just preventing me from doing a lot of things that I love doing now. You know, running long-distance is a lot harder when you have 30 pounds of skin hanging off you. You know, it's not very easy. But it's one of those things where I was hoping to get the surgery done. I went and had a consultation. I found out it was over $20,000 to get the surgery done. And it just wasn't an option for me. So a really good friend of mine, Kay, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for this. And it's been going up since. So we're completely blown away. Jackie and I have been just unbelievably grateful for everybody's support.
PAT: Do you have enough now to have the surgery? Is there enough now?
BRIAN: We're really close. I think we're now over 18,000. The surgery is quoted at 22,000. So we're almost there.
GLENN: All right. So how do you get to it?
BRIAN: It's actually at GoFundMe.com. Then just do slash Brian Flemming. And that will take you to the page.
PAT: I would guess you will have necessary amount soon.
GLENN: Yeah. So GoFundMe.com/BrianFlemming. F-L-E-M-M-I-N-G.
So let me ask you about the experience of taking your shirt off and taking a picture. How scary was that for you?
BRIAN: Oh, it was incredibly scary. One of the things that I've been dealing with, there's a lot of anxiety. I had depression when I was bigger as well. And, you know, I haven't gone swimming in over a decade. I mean, it's been a long time. I've been too bashful. Even while I was bigger, I never wanted to go swimming because I didn't want people looking at me. Now that I've lost all this weight, I have all this excess skin. And I'm still incredibly self-conscious about it. I still haven't gone swimming. And it's one of those things I used to love doing when I was a kid. I figured, you know, eventually, I'll just have to get over it. It's part of my body. You know, maybe something that people need to see that side of weight loss. So I decided to make a video out of it. Put some pictures up. And just show some of our followers what it looks like to lose that amount of weight. And it's kind of been a liberating experience. You know, it was nerve-racking at first. But I think it feels good to just get it out there.
PAT: How has this changed your life, Brian? You must sleep better, you must be able to get around a lot better, you must go places you haven't been to in a really long time.
GLENN: What are the things that you have done or you have felt that you had forgotten about that just has been mind-boggling for you?
BRIAN: Oh. So many different things. I spread myself almost every day trying to new things. There's just certain things I took for granted before I was obese. You know, things like buckling my seat belt in my car. You know, the first day I was able to do that, it blew my mind. When I was 600 pounds, I couldn't buckle my seat belt. And going out to restaurants and being able to fit in the booth. And getting on a plane and flying to London. You know, I never thought I would be able to fit into a plane seat again. There's all these things I want to do. You know, ride rollercoasters. I haven't been able to fit on the rides. And now I'm planning to go to Cedar Point this summer. You know, sky driving. All kinds of stuff.
GLENN: How about catching the eye of somebody attractive? Have you noticed that -- I mean, that must be like somebody looking at you must be like, holy cow. And they're not looking at me and making fun of me. I mean, she might actually be interested in me.
BRIAN: Well, I don't know. I'm not very self-conscious about that. I haven't really picked up on it if that's the case.
STU: Not to hit on you or anything, but you're a pretty good-looking dude.
GLENN: There's no judgment here. He is hitting on you.
BRIAN: Appreciate it.
PAT: Did you have a job when you were 600 pounds?
BRIAN: I worked a few dead-end jobs here and there. I worked retail sales and just some jobs where I wasn't really going anywhere. I was spinning my wheels. I went to college at some point. I dropped out.
GLENN: How about now?
BRIAN: Right now, I work as a music teacher for a local high school. I teach saxophone with the Plymouth-Canton Marching Band. It's a fantastic group of kids that I get to work with.
GLENN: Holy cow.
BRIAN: And Jackie and I, we also started a weight loss support group that we call team 383. This was after my story came out. And we wanted to share with other people. Now it's grown to 11,000 members. We've been able to reach out and help other people with losing weight and dealing with their own issues. And all kinds of things. Even substance abuse. All kinds of numbers from all over the world. It's been fantastic.
GLENN: So that's at Facebook.com/team383?
BRIAN: We actually have a website now. It's team383.com. And you can go to our Facebook group from there. Click on the Facebook link. Like I said, about 11,000 members. They're all amazingly supportive. They come from all walks of life. It's just been an amazing experience. We're just glad to be able to give back and help other people.
GLENN: 383, the significance?
BRIAN: Yeah, when we created the group, we originally called it My 383-Pound Weight Loss Story. At the time, that's how much weight I had lost. And the members of the group kept calling it Team 383 and they just kept calling it over and over. And eventually it kind of stuck. So we decided to just call it Team 383.
GLENN: It's really amazing. Really amazing. Well, we'd love to get -- we'd love to get the woman who changed your life on the phone. So maybe we'll just put you on hold. Maybe we can arrange that. Do that tomorrow or something. We'd love to talk to her as well.
BRIAN: Sure. That would be great.
GLENN: I think it's a great story. You seem like a great guy. I'm glad the Blaze did a story on you so we could talk to you today.
BRIAN: Thank you for having me on.
PAT: It's a great story.
GLENN: Really great story.
PAT: In this participation trophy culture that we live in, someone who actually doesn't enable his behavior of drinking a fifth of vodka a day and eating fast food all day, 7,000 calories, and really takes him to task for it, that's pretty great.
GLENN: That's fantastic.
PAT: That doesn't happen very often.
GLENN: That's fantastic.