almost 300 pounds
February 10, 2010 - Brian Dunaway is half the man he used to be.
Dunaway knew he was big—he was wearing size 6XL shirts and size 60 pants—but
when he stepped on a freight scale at a GM plant a few years ago, he was stunned
to see exactly how heavy he was. He weighed 513 pounds.
"I didn't want to believe it," says Dunaway simply. "I was at a very dangerous
Today, the 6'2" former iron worker and new owner of Anytime Fitness in the
Bueche's plaza, is about 230 pounds, following a 2-year weight loss journey that
began with bariatric surgery on Valentine's Day 2008. But while he credits the
lap band doctors inserted in him with giving him a jump start, his success was
dependent on what he did after.
"The lap band restricted the flow of food to make me feel full faster," said
Dunaway, 32, who is married to Kristin and the father of two boys, Austin, 7,
and Hunter, 3. "I was thankful for the surgery to get me started, but I would
like to see more follow-up for diet and exercise. Without it, you will fail… I
could never go back to what I was."
Prior to his weight loss, the Davison resident had a host of health problems. He
was borderline diabetic, had sleep apnea requiring him to wear an oxygen mask at
night, and had plantar fascitis aggravated by his weight. The condition required
surgery to place steel rods in all of the toes on both his feet. He was
hospitalized twice with heart arrythmias.
Dunaway, a former high school football player who had been on the powerlifting
team, always a "chunky" kid, had steadily gained weight following high school.
He was 280 when he graduated. When he and Kristin married in 2000, his weight
skyrocketed. As an iron worker foreman with Local 25, he was always on the go to
job sites in Battle Creek, Detroit, and Ohio. On those drives, he consumed lots
of pop, energy drinks and snacks. He ate fast food everyday. In the morning, he
ate "gas station food." In the afternoon, he ate off what he and his coworkers
called "the gut wagon."
He was a hard worker. But when he came home at night, he had nothing left. He
stopped mowing the lawn, taking out the garbage. Those tasks were left to
Kristin as Dunaway was exhausted all the time. He slowed down on hunting,
fishing, weightlifting—all things he had once enjoyed. His children wanted to
play outside and he couldn't do it.
"I would get home and lay down," recalls Dunaway, who felt like he was
70-years-old instead of 30. "I was getting lazier and lazier. I had nothing left
for my family or myself."
Finally, around September 2007, Kristin told him, "I don't know how much longer
I can do this."
The fear of losing his family was the spark he needed. He researched weight loss
surgery. His family doctor was completely opposed to it, but finally approved
Dunaway to pursue lap band. To get the surgery, however, he was required to make
an effort to lose weight on his own for six months. During that time, he only
lost about 25 pounds.
"It was hard because I was trying to make (Kristin) happy, rather than do it for
me," he said. "I was still craving bad food, still having bad days."
On Feb. 14, 2008, he got the lap band. On a liquid diet for one month after, he
lost 60 pounds. But, he was laid off from his job in March. Depressed, he gained
back 25 pounds. Kristin bought him a membership to Anytime Fitness and, finally,
Dunaway found he was ready to lose the weight—for himself.
"You have to be able to do it for yourself," he said. "It won't work for your
wife, your kids, anyone else, unless you want it for yourself."
Dunaway worked out six days a week, sometimes twice a day for an hour-and-a-half
each time. He did high intensity Marine Corps workouts under the direction of
personal trainer and former Marine Greg Taylor, sending his heartrate through
the roof. He remembers one session vividly in which he did 660 lunges, with 110
squats in between using a Swiss exercise ball. He got sick multiple times during
"Greg wanted to see if he could break me," Dunaway said. "I think he saved my
Dunaway recalls sleeping in a chair for three nights, so sore from the cramps,
and workouts in which he was in tears. He became addicted to the results though,
and seemingly overnight went from 513 to 235 pounds. A former meat and potatoes
man, he no longer eats red meat. Now, he counts calories, watches his
carbohydrate intake, stays away from chocolates and sugar and eats 5-7
well-balanced meals per day. At Subway, he gets a 6-inch sub and throws the top
piece of bread away. Before, he would get a pop and chips to go with the sub.
Now he realizes he doesn't need it.
Through his weight loss, Dunaway, met a lot of friends. His wife and children
are happy. He is happy. In an Anytime Fitness nationwide success story
competition, he placed in the top four.
"I feel like a maniac," he smiles. "Like I can do anything."
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville