Think of your favorite thing to do, the thing you save time and money to enjoy.
Now imagine it being taken away.
However, you can get it back.
It won’t be easy.
Trevor Feuring got hooked in grade school. It started on a family vacation to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, with a ride on the Loch Ness Monster.
When the roller coaster opened in 1978, it was the first with a full loop followed immediately by another interlocking loop. The velocity, the architecture, the history – all of it transfixed young Trevor.
For adult Trevor, rides became destinations, his excuse to travel the country. He researched which to experience next. He plotted time off from work and developed rituals that made the experience even more, well, over the top.
“The day before, when I’m driving down the interstate and see the park peeking out from the surrounding scenery, anticipation sets in. I’m so excited because I know I’m going to get that thrill factor,” he said. “I do the best ride first thing in the morning. There some fog and it’s kind of dewy, so the track’s a little slicker. Then I ride it again later in the day or that night.”
Everything was playing out perfectly last October as he approached Batman The Ride at Six Flags St. Louis. He waited in line, got into the front car, pulled down the restraining bar and tugged the seat belt across his ample waist toward the buckle.
“It came an inch away,” he said. “The attendant said if I couldn’t get it to fit, I had to get off. So I did the walk of shame. At first, I blamed them for making the belt so short. Then I called my folks and told them what happened. My mom had some advice for me, but I knew what needed to be done. I decided right then to take better care of myself and start paying attention to my weight.”
November is Eat Smart Month and the fact we’re spotlighting Trevor indicates he’s made a remarkable transformation. How remarkable? He’s gone …
* From 345 pounds to 240
* From size 48 pants to 36
* From XXXL shirts to XL
One more cool number: 2025. As in, he’s mapped out his rides for the next eight years.
He can look that far ahead because – like being on a roller coaster climbing into a loop-de-loop – there’s no turning back. Now that healthy eating has helped him reclaim his hobby, and so much more, this is his new way of life.
During that initial ride on the Loch Ness Monster, Trevor would’ve been considered a small kid. But by high school, he sprouted to 6-foot-1 and did more than his share of filling into that frame.
“My parents would tell me to eat healthier, but I ignored them,” he said. “I never really saw myself getting bigger. Eventually, I kind of blew up.”
Trevor compounded his poor diet by being inactive. He became lethargic. Back problems followed.
Once his wakeup call arrived, Trevor sought advice from some friends – a fit couple and his mom, who sells a nutrition supplement.
“I started with my diet,” he said. “I’m from the South (raised in Tennessee, now living in Mississippi) and we LOVE deep-fried food. Cutting that out was a big one for me. Now I try to eat lean meats, veggies, fruits. I completely cut out sodas. Also alcohol. I wanted a clean start.”
A typical day features a fruit smoothie with his mom’s product for breakfast, grilled chicken or fish with vegetables for lunch and a light dinner of chicken or fish with more vegetables and fruit. He’s usually done eating by 6 p.m.
At first, he got hungry between meals. He began snacking on almonds, which remain a go-to treat. He felt empowered by his resistance to fried foods and sodas. The first proof of a melting waistline was all he needed to keep going.
Next came an exercise routine. He visited a gym but didn’t feel comfortable there. So he created a simple, sustainable home workout: Situps and pushups inside his apartment and walking laps around his complex.
“I remember when I stepped on a scale and that first number was no longer a 3. I was like, `Are you kidding me? It’s working!’” he said.
He continued: “It was exhilarating, like the thrill of riding a roller coaster – especially because I knew they were tied together.”
The smaller Trevor’s gotten, the more he’s been noticed.
The Memphis office of my organization, the American Heart Association, recently honored him with a Lifestyle Change Award. The prize sits atop the entertainment center in his living room.
A magazine distributed throughout the casino where he works as a lighting director recently featured him, too. A framed copy hangs in his bedroom.
Then there are the comments from friends and colleagues, often followed by request for advice. His stock response: “It’s tough at first, but it can be done.”
He also challenges anyone serious about making a change to find their motivation. So as we begin Eat Healthy Month, I ask you again to think of your favorite thing to do, the thing you save time and money to enjoy.
“That really was the cement holding all this together for me,” he said. “Sure, there were other incentives like living healthier, getting thinner and feeling better. But you’ve got to have in place a reward that matters most to you.”
There’s a postscript to Trevor’s tale.
The Batman ride wasn’t the first time he was turned away because of his size. It happened enough times that he always waited in line fearing that he might not fit.
His psyche was so scarred that when a slimmer Trevor made his maiden voyage back to a theme park – to Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, for three days in June – he walked up to the first ride telling himself, “I hope this paid off.”
It did, of course, producing one of his favorite theme park memories.
“I’d never been able to fit on an inverted ride, where everything dangles, because they have really short seatbelts,” he said. “When I got on the platform and got buckled, I thought, `Oh my God, this is really going to happen!’ I struck up a conversation with the people next to me about my weight loss. One of the ride attendants must’ve overheard me because when I was getting off, they said `Give it up for a first-time inverted-ride customer!’ and people cheered. That meant a lot to me – strangers cheering for doing the thing I love.”