Hi, I'm Steve, I'm 40 years old and I've been considered morbidly obese by science for most of my adult life.
I reached out to Johny Grigg and Studio 41 after deciding that I either needed to make some drastic changes to my life or have it cut short by a weight-related problem. It was that clear to me.
For many years, I suffered with depression brought about by low self-esteem around my battle with obesity. My lifestyle was extremely sedentary and my diet was mostly convenience or junk foods that I binge ate (either for comfort if feeling down or reward if feeling good); I found myself trapped in a vicious cycle and could see no escape.
I had just returned from a trip to Las Vegas in 2014, where I embarrassingly found it painful to squeeze myself into an economy seat and needed a seatbelt extender at its full extension to fit in it. I knew my weight was a big problem as a few months before at Thorpe Park I was escorted off the roller coaster and had to do a 'walk of shame', as the protection bars on the ride couldn't fasten around my tummy.
That Vegas trip really was the last straw for me, I couldn't keep going that way and decided to weigh myself for the first time in many years. Sadly, the first scales I stood on didn't go up high enough, but eventually I found some that told me I was 27st 13lb (178kg), I was absolutely devastated.
The last time I'd felt this bad was in 200 8 when I was disgusted that I'd let myself get to 24 stone and so went onto a weightloss meal replacement programme - basically eating 600 calories of expensive food pouches a day - over the next 5 months I got down to 16.5 stone and felt great, but as soon as I stopped doing it, I went back to my old eating habits and I put back on all the weight I lost plus another 4 stone on top by 2013.
I felt at this stage after some soul-searching that my best chance would be a three-pronged attack in a battle that I felt was literally life or death - I needed to learn how to eat better, I needed to start exercising regularly and I also needed to address my internal struggles around negative self-image and mood.
I felt I needed to get a little smaller before exercising or risk injury, so over the next two years I visited two different slimming clubs at different points and managed to get down slightly to 26st - during this time I had also joined a squash club and after a match I was talking to my opponent about my challenges and how I hated solo-exercising as I lacked motivation, and he recommended that I talk to Johny at Studio41 about things and made the introduction (thanks Chris Rushbrook).
I bit the bullet and went for a consultation with Johny. I was nervous and worried of being judged about my size as I have been most of my life, but immediately he put me at ease and by the end of the session he had given me some tough love: to make the changes I wanted to make he needed just two things from me - effort and commitment - and that things would get much harder before they got easier, but that he would stick with me all the way whilst I wanted to make changes.
He asked that I think about what had been said and let him know if I wanted his help. I've never told anyone this, but I came out of that session and sat in my car and burst into tears with no-one else around, but it wasn't sadness this time around, it was an overwhelming positive feeling that finally I could see a shimmer of light in the dark tunnel, and that for the first time in a while all wasn't lost for me.
I phoned him back an hour later to commit to a Studio41 ongoing subscription and also a series of one-to-one PT sessions, where together we explored the emotional side of my challenges whilst I regularly attended studio HIIT classes. I don't mind admitting that those private sessions were really tough for me, much harder than all the physical stuff, but it was enlightening and enabled me to learn about myself and why my journey had been full of self-sabotage and self-loathing for so long.
Gradually up to Aug 2016 my fitness improved and I'd learnt a lot about myself, and I began to have serious concerns about the longevity of main stream slimming clubs (I had not stopped attending those yet) as a long-term fat-loss solution, as my class leader that week had proudly announced this was the third time she'd done the programme to lose weight - what I basically heard the class leader say was "I'm still trapped in a cycle of diet/binge/regain", which is exactly what I'd done before, plus no-one at in this company could offer any scientific basis on how you could eat 'syns' and keep body-fat off long term (I've since learnt that only 3% of slimming club members keep the weight they lose off over a 5-year period from their 'goal weight'!)
I shared these concerns with Johny at Studio 41 that week and it was the first time we'd spoken about nutrition. He spoke knowledgeably about a nutritional plan, based on scientific evidence, that he was studying and that I should look into too. I spent the next few days preparing and just decided to jump straight in and over the next 3 months I had lost a further 2 stone (so now 22.5st/142kg) but it didn't feel like I was 'missing out' on food like I constantly felt on both slimming club plans - this was by far the best result I'd seen and I honestly hadn't found it tough at all.
In November 2016, Johny informed me that he had now formalised his own plan under the "Transform16" brand name, so I tweaked my approach in line with his recommendations and the results have been nothing short of phenomenal. It has now been 8 months since I have officially been following the Transform16 guidelines laid down by Johny & Marie (Johny's co-director and wife) and I'm proud to have lost a full 7 stone of body fat over that period, as well as many many inches of body measurements (without excess skin, just a few stretchmarks).
Johny, Marie and the Studio 41 team have consistently given me the support I needed when I was at my lowest and have kept me going when I felt I had nothing else to give during the tough fitness sessions for a morbidly-obese person- also, during the psychological one-to-one sessions for an emotionally-bankrupt (at the time) individual... there are no words, no amount of money, nothing, that can fully allow me to express the gratitude I owe to Studio 41 and the series of events that led me to working with Johny, but, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.
I'm currently 15st 10lb / 99.9kg - this is the first time I've been under 100kg since the age of 15 and I just can't stop smiling. I've reviewed the target I previously set for myself to get into a 36" waist trouser (as that arrived a month ago) - I'm currently 21% body fat and have decided to push on and aim for 10%.
I can, with absolute certainty, say that I wouldn't be in the position I am now without the personal mentoring of Johny and also the full support of Marie, Jack & Dan from Studio41 over the last few years. When I first met Johny I had no belief in myself and felt unloveable, but over time he has imparted valuable and expert guidance that has enabled me to immeasurably improve my physical and mental wellbeing.
I'm now able to embrace and love my new lease of life and welcome new challenges with a zest for life that I would never have thought possible even 12 months ago. Johny has consistently been a rock throughout the time I've known him and he's remained true to the pledge he made me during that fateful first meeting.
Thank you Johny and all at Studio 41, you really do change lives.