Brian Flemming was an alcoholic, massively obese, and wasting away. When his online friend in the UK, Jackie Eastman, figured out what he was going through, she went into a rage. She just unloaded on him and reprimanded him for wasting his life -- and it actually worked. Glenn has fascinating conversation with Brian and Jackie on radio today.
GLENN: So Jackie, the life coach, is with us today. Hi, Jackie.
GLENN: How are you?
JACKIE: I'm good. I think he is on the line somewhere. He's supposed to be anyway. So he's around.
GLENN: He dropped out. We'll try to conference him back in.
So, Jackie, you're in England.
JACKIE: That's right.
GLENN: What time is it over there?
JACKIE: Just 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
GLENN: All right. So I'm so glad to talk to you. We were talking to Brian yesterday. And he said that he was on the phone with you -- I asked him, what was the pivot point, what changed? He said he was on the phone with a friend in England, she pretty much balled me out. Can you tell me what happened?
JACKIE: I certainly can. He probably told you. We started off. We met randomly through an internet game and then progressed to Facebook as friends. You know, we had a bit of banter going. And it was during the Facebook chats that we were having that I -- I basically was discussing my health. And he basically let me know that he had been -- or, he was at that point an alcoholic and massively obese and depressive as well.
I guess there was something going on because he would fall into these periods of muddling (phonetic) in self-pity. That was the alcohol. I could see his character change. So even through the writing we were doing, I thought, something is not right here. And so I told him, I have health problems myself. I have myotonic dystrophy, which is a form of muscle dystrophy, which is a multi-systemic -- it can affect all your body. You have to have lots of checks and whatnot. A lot of health problems. So I just hit the roof when I found out that this guy at the time, 30 years old, was just sitting on his backside eating fast food, you know, doing nothing with his life. I won't tell you what I said exactly. But I just went into a rage and just said sort your life out basically.
PAT: He said there were a few words that you might have thrown in there that we couldn't repeat on the radio.
GLENN: And we thought that was maybe because they were from a different country.
JACKIE: Of course. You might hear sailors using those words.
GLENN: So it was really just your -- your rage that you wanted to be healthy. He had it, and he was wasting it.
JACKIE: Exactly. The point I made to him -- and I had a friend who died of cancer who was very positive. Wanted to live. And she'd say, what can I do? I know I'm dying, and I want to live. So having experienced that and losing her as a friend and then seeing Brian, you know, who has everything to live for potentially, given health at birth and just completely destroying it, it sounded criminal. I just went into a rage with him.
GLENN: So when you did this, I'm sure you didn't think this out. When you did this, did you think you would be friends with him? Or was this such a rage that you thought, I don't care if I'm friends with you anymore?
JACKIE: The interesting thing, the internet, I know it gets a lot of bad press. But actually, in this particular instance, I felt I could be frank with him. And, you know, see just a fleeting friendship. I mean, we progressed to Facebook friends. So I was -- I wasn't actually trying to balance losing him as a friend because it was almost a transitory friendship anyway. Actually it isn't. Obviously now we're very close, and we're still deeply in touch. But, you know, at the time, I just felt I had nothing to lose. I thought, this guy is going to die. That was my fear. I thought, he will die. Obesity is a much bigger problem in the US than it is in the UK. That said, it's getting worse here. But I eventually found out he was. I didn't know exactly how big he was at the time. I look at the pictures now and he protected me from those pictures and images until he started to lose the weight. And I thought, I don't know how he was alive frankly.
GLENN: He is on the phone now. Brian. Hi, Brian.
BRIAN: Hi, guys.
GLENN: We're just talking behind your back.
BRIAN: Oh, that's all right.
GLENN: Yeah. So you told us yesterday that this -- this was the pivot point for you. Did you -- did you fear for losing your friend or what was it exactly that she said that changed you?
BRIAN: She put it into perspective for me. You know, I've been so self-centered and just so self-involved. You know, I didn't see past my own nose. And she really just put it into perspective. You know, made me realize -- she was saying, there are thousands of people out there fighting for their lives. You know, what are you doing? Just something that -- just the way she said it and the language she used. Like I said, which we can't repeat, was effective enough to get me to quit drinking. It was October 13th, 2012, I just quit drinking that night, and I never looked back since.
PAT: That's incredible willpower. Hardly anybody can do it cold turkey on their own like that and never look back. That had to be tough. You had to have gone through withdrawal for a while.
BRIAN: Yeah. It took me about two weeks to get over it. There were nights I didn't sleep. When I did sleep, I was sleeping for 12, 14 hours. Had cold sweats. Shaking. All kinds of things.
GLENN: Jackie, were you -- were you there through that with him? Jackie.
JACKIE: Yeah, because of the time difference, it actually kind of worked quite well. I'm a bit of an insomniac to be quite honest. You know, in the kind of dead at night, sort of the middle of the night, Michigan time, I was, you know, getting up for work. I mean, I was around. So I could be there for him. Yeah. So I was just keeping him occupied, busy, and distracted. Not for me. I've never been an alcoholic. I mean, I have an addictive personality, but not with alcohol or substances. And so I was -- I was conscious, so I didn't know how to help him and just distract him and just keep him in focused on me and getting -- and the message that I can start feeding him. That was bad terminology. When I said feeding him, I meant I was trying to get through to him.
GLENN: So, Brian, Jackie saved your life. And I believe that when something like that happens, you have to pass it on. And you -- you have. Whether you've thought of it that way or not, you have. With Team 383.
BRIAN: Yes, it's been amazing. We first created a Facebook group. Just wanted to share our story. And people just started joining. And it kind of grew like crazy. And all of a sudden now we have over 11,000 members, you know, from all over the world. And there's people from all walks of life. There are people that are starting their weight loss journey. People that have already completed it. And they're just going on there to support other people. And we've kind of created and cultivated a community of support. And kind of acceptance. And there's no judgment there whatsoever. And just been a fantastic opportunity to be able to reach back and help other people.
GLENN: Jackie, what do you do for a living?
JACKIE: I'm a civil servant. So I work for the government.
GLENN: Oh. Sorry for that.
BRIAN: About as descriptive as she can get.
GLENN: Yeah. What is it that you guys plan to do now? Is this -- is this -- is there a plan to have this grow into something that is -- is business? Is this -- what is this? Where do you go from here?
BRIAN: That's a good question. We don't know where it will go from here. Right now it's just a fantastic support group. It's great. It's gotten to the point where we had our members who were asking for T-shirts with the Team 383 name on it. So we've had T-shirts made. We've been sending those out to people. You know, Jackie and I have been mentoring about 150 individuals. We send out videos to them every weekend. And kind of helping them out with certain things asked for. Kind of -- you know, exercise videos and just kind of seeing how I cook my food and things like that. We've actually reached out to five individuals that we're helping one-on-one. And we talk to them on Skype every weekend. We kind of coach them through their weight loss issues. And it's been a great experience. We've been doing it for ten weeks now and it's been going really well.
JACKIE: I think to add to that, it's certainly -- it feels like a full-time job. I do it in my spare time. So, you know, it's something that possibly we would look into doing -- certainly Brian, you know, as a business possibly going forward at some point. But the whole focus would be on helping people. I mean, there's clearly a demand. What we're finding is -- what's been interesting to me because, you know, I have never done any of this before. I, actually to be honest, I've had yo-yo problems with dieting all my life. You wouldn't think I'm overweight at all if you saw me necessarily. But I have a mental state, I have terrible problems with food and so on. So I'm able to bring that to the party. But --
GLENN: Can I ask --
JACKIE: It has shown to me that people buffer themselves against the world by fat basically. And we've got people on there with all sorts of problems. It's nonjudgmental. Everyone is welcome. You know, every creed. Religion. People in the group are disabled. You know, lesbian, straight, gay, transgender. Whatever. Everyone is welcome in the group. And we really try to do it in a safe and supportive environment. And some of the problems that people have that they're sharing on there. It's a closed group. So it's a safe environment. I mean, it breaks your heart when you hear the stories. But you kind of understand why people build this cocoon around themselves with eating. So we're trying to deal with that. And actually the support from others in the group is actually helping.
GLENN: Can I ask what your addiction -- you said you had addiction problems, but it wasn't food-based or substance-based.
JACKIE: Mine was with food. I have an obsessive personality. I get obsessed with things. Fortunately, I haven't put myself in a situation where alcohol or substances or anything like that has been a problem. But food, I've always had a problem with food. And I recognize that I have that issue in me. And I recognize it in other people as well.
STU: So hard to relate to this as television personalities obviously are really attractive.
PAT: So, so incredibly hot.
GLENN: Jackie, you would be laughing if you had signed on or had a television access in England to us. Because we -- we're not the most attractive men. Let's put it that way.
JACKIE: Just for radio, eh?
STU: 3,000 pounds of men, you're talking to right now.
JACKIE: I'm sure you're gorgeous.
GLENN: Each. Oh, my gosh, you couldn't imagine. Jackie, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Brian, all my best.
BRIAN: Thanks for having us on. We appreciate it.
JACKIE: Thanks, bye.
GLENN: Thank you. Buh-bye. All right. You bet.