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'Maniac' sheds almost 300 pounds



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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

weight."

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

that session.

"Greg wanted to see if he could break me," Dunaway said. "I think he saved my

life."

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
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