How I Went From Being A Depressed Fatty To Being Lean & Happy

By Christopher Walker
In Getting Started
Sep 15th, 2012
23 Comments

I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.  -Thomas Edison

 

The Point of this Story

I’m telling this story for a very specific reason: because I believe strongly that if it inspires just one person to change their life for the better, then it was completely worth me having to live through the roughest of times when I was feeling hopeless & depressed.

My story is not short or simple, and it’s definitely not what you’re expecting – the best things in life never are.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

 When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on – FDR

My Story

I grew up as an athletic young lad, always playing some kind of sport.  As I went through my middle school years I got a little chubby, like many kids do, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

I sure loved to eat my Honey Buns after lunch every day (no wonder I got chubby).

I was a three-sport athlete in high school in football, baseball, and track but never quite figured out how to gain muscle and lose fat.

I just looked average, a little on the skinny side even.

I turned down several baseball scholarships to go to school for academics. I was burnt out at this point so I just decided to start running a lot.

That’s when things started to go wrong.

“Fit”-to-Fat then Fat-to-Fit

Running every day will get you really ‘fit,’ especially if you are already athletically inclined.  The problem is: when you get obsessed with being faster and faster you also get really skinny.

And boy did I get skinny.  At my lowest weight I was around 150lbs standing at 6’2” tall. I was a beanpole.

Ironically, my obsession with being faster actually made me slower.  I started to care less and less about performance and instead focused on reducing my weight.

It seems so ridiculous looking back now, but when you are in the midst of an obsession – nothing is ridiculous.

I started to have medical problems with my stomach, resulting in a near fatal GI bleed that left me in the ICU for a week.

Things were going to have to change.

Over the course of the next year I was still struggling with medical issues and so had to take a year off from college. It was during this year off that the doctors found my brain tumor.

Sitting in my pituitary gland, blocking testosterone and other vital hormone secretion, was a tumor.

Well, at least this explained some things. It still remains unclear though whether epigenetic expression played a role in its appearance or whether the tumor was causing many of my problems. It is a chicken-and-egg problem.

And to be honest, it’s not that important.

What is important is that I took (what I thought were) healthier steps by becoming a triathlete (and developing a new compulsion). As a triathlete I gained about 25lbs of muscle on top of my frail frame and therefore appeared much healthier.

However, my testosterone levels were still ridiculously low and cortisol was always elevated from the constant exertion.

It wasn’t until the tumor, and my inability to deal with side effects of medication I was on, caused me to balloon up to a hefty 221lbs that I really had to take a step back and re-evaluate my life.

Was it really healthy for me to be forcing my body into constant exercise? I mean, I felt so crappy all the time. And now that I could barely run without my blood sugar crashing and running out of breath, I was faced with some serious decisions.

By this point, I was deep into my neuroscience studies so I knew roughly what was going on and what I would need to change in order to right this train.

I knew it was my hormones.

So I rashly threw away all of my medication (to my doctor’s horror) because I wanted to eliminate all of the scary side effects of tumor meds.  (I’ve always been of the mindset that the side effects end up being worse than the actual symptoms).

That was Step 1.

Step 2 was to change my exercising so that I decreased the amount of cortisol in my bloodstream steadily over time until it was at a healthy level.

I did this my shifting to more low intensity cardio like walking mixed in with some sprinting when I was feeling particularly saucy. I would try to do pushups and pullups on tree branches as I walked in the woods but I was so weak that I could barely do any at all.

After only two weeks, I started to notice change.

Week after week went by and, by taking one day at a time and trying to “have a better day than yesterday” I was able to continually string together “ a better week than last week.”

The next and final step was to change my dietary habits.  When I gained the weight I was so depressed that I may stay fat, sweaty, and unhappy forever. But deep down I knew that there was no way in hell I was going to let this defeat me, and however long it took, regardless of the amount of trial and error I had to go through to get there, I WAS going to figure out how to ‘treat’ myself through proper nutrition.

I would continually fall into the common trap of reaching for food when I felt down on myself or when my day wasn’t going well – basically any time I felt unhappy or bored.  Food became a way for me to hide from the inevitable discomfort I knew I had to experience, even if it was only momentary, if I wanted to change for the better & get my self-esteem back on track.

I knew that once I figured out how to eat optimally I would also lose all of the fat that I had gained, because once the endocrine system is healthy and running well again, your entire body starts to feel great – you start burning fat for fuel and your mind becomes sharper.

So I began doing some research on how humans are meant to eat.  I wanted to bring my body back to the basics so it would have the chance to reach a balance again.  My research brought me all over the internet but eventually I became convinced that the Primal/Paleo “fad” that was beginning to take hold was indeed not a fad at all: it was the real way humans are meant to eat.

And I became increasingly convinced of this as I watched my uncle – an anesthesiologist from Dartmouth, NH – go from being unhealthy and unhappy to being absolutely RIPPED – and he is over 50 years old!  He ate primally and had made a HUGE transformation in not only his body but his total well-being.

Long story short, I bought The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson (considered the authority in Primal/Paleo nutrition) and started devouring his blog, MarksDailyApple.

And well, from there, the rest is history. I continued taking baby steps and, as things got easier and easier, and I started developing good habits, I noticed some great changes.

First off, my libido just jumped back out of nowhere. One day I noticed it, and believe me, when something like your sex drive disappears for years, you NOTICE when it comes back.

I went and got my blood tested and sure enough, my testosterone was now right around 600 ng/dl, right in the middle of the normal range for adult males.

I was ecstatic.

How I Beat My Brain Tumor Without Medication or Surgery

And things only got better.

Thanks to my dieting secret (at the time it was not as widely popular as it is now) and the correct exercise routine I was losing fat and feeling better and better about myself every week.
Christopher Walker Front Lever
The weeks turned to months and months to years.

I’ve held a steady “above normal” testosterone level for around a year now. My last test result came back at 1192 ng/dl.

I’ve dropped my body fat from over 20% to now hovering between 8-10% year round (depending how how healthy I am eating and how healthy my environment is).

Oh yeah – AND I GREW 2” TALLER.  The increase in growth hormone and testosterone associated with my nutritional changes and proper exercise facilitated growth.  I now stand at 6’4” tall! No lie.

And I opted out of surgery (never know what can go wrong in brain surgery) and decided to ditch the meds (I was confident in my own abilities to figure out a solution based on my academic background – I’m not necessarily advocating this to my readers).

And to tell you the God-honest truth, I have never been happier in my entire life than I am right now.  Beyond having my own ideal body, my mental well-being is sky high. I have great friends, creative opportunities, and a loving family – all things that need never be overlooked in pursuit of physical aesthetics.

My story is a prime example of how you can treat your body with the right nutrition and exercise.  The human body was clearly designed to thrive in a certain state of being.  When this state is at risk of being disrupted we start to notice imbalances, anxieties, depression, medical problems, and physical problems.

Conclusion

I wasn’t always fit and happy.  In fact, my college years were spent struggling with two very serious medical complications that had a huge impact on my life: a GI bleed & a brain tumor.

During this period of time my weight fluctuated wildly: from 150lbs at the low end to 221lbs at the high end.

But even during my most hopeless and depressing moments, I always knew that things would get better: but they would not improve until I took the necessary steps and held myself accountable for the things within my own control.

I began taking baby steps toward my goal of losing body fat and living a balanced life – and guess what – days turned to weeks turned to months turned to years.  And now, only a few short years later, I am the happiest I have ever been in life – I am pursuing fulfilling work everyday, I get to help people, my self-esteem is higher than ever, and best of all, I’ve got the strength of knowing that all of that shit I had to go through to get here was not in vain.

No – the strength I gained from surviving those bad times is precisely the reason why everything is so good today.

So if you are dealing with some shit, make today a better day than yesterday and keep moving forward.  Remember: shit happens.  How you respond and what you learn from it are what are really important.

Just wipe it off your shoe, plug your nose, and keep walking.  One step at a time.

Takeaway

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.  - Henry Ford

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.  - Chinese Proverb

About "" Has 116 Posts

Co-host of the Road To Ripped podcast, blogger at NoGym.net, and author of the Testosterone IO Program.
  • http://projectwhitespace.com Bethany

    Wow, christopher, you totally need to highlight this story. I mean, seriously??! It’s amazing. You should put this in some version on your “about me” page, or even create a separate page for it. This is your whole motivation for writing about health and fitness. This story makes it real.

    • http://www.nogym.net @ctheflow

      Thanks for the great feedback, Bethany. I am going to highlight it in a featured post section or custom menu on my sidebar most likely. Or maybe I will create a separate page or make it sticky haha. So many choices for how to deal with it. I really appreciate your comments!

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  • Dewey

    What a great story, Chris! You’re an inspiration to those lucky enough to know you or to know of you, and you’ve proven that so much of healing is driven by choices beyond what medication will “fix.” I look forward to reading more.

    • http://www.nogym.net @ctheflow

      Thanks! So happy to see you and catch up recently and glad you checked out the site! Stay in touch and hope to see you around here often too!

  • Milton Gilder

    Great story Chris! I enjoyed reading every word of it! Till next time I see you!

    • http://www.nogym.net Christopher Walker

      Good to hear from you, Milton. Hope to see you again soon!

  • kyle h

    Is it possible for me to increase my growth hormone and testosterone naturally and grow taller also? Im 5ft 9.5 and 21 years old

    • http://www.nogym.net Christopher Walker

      Perhaps yes. You’re still in a good age-range for guys. It will take time though. I started helping a close friend last fall and he’s grown a 1/2 inch since we consulted, so it’s definitely working.

      • kyle h

        what can i fo to increase height besides stretching , lifting and hit workouts? I also play basketball alot

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  • Jenifa

    Hey Christopher – Thank you for sharing your story. Aside from a bleeding gut or a brain tumor do you have any tips to help one find their own motivation?? I’m 43yrs old and I’ve lost 100+lbs TWICE! in my life and cannot hardly believe I’ve yo-yo’d back to it again. I’m so lost for will or motivation – but know that I have to do something. . . . it’s a vicious cycle when your mind spins like that constantly. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Stay well. Thanks again. Jenifa

    • http://www.nogym.net Christopher Walker

      Hi Jenifa – First off, wow that’s incredible that you lost 100lbs twice! The first thing that tells me is that you have all the tools you need, that’s for sure. I think the biggest thing right now is to get back up and dust yourself off and get ready to give it another go. However, this time things need to be different. Much different.

      Failing at something twice hopefully has armed you with some helpful knowledge about yourself. And I’m willing to bet you know, even if it’s deep down, why you continue to yo-yo. Dieting is clearly not your issue. You know how to diet. Your issue lies in creating a sustainable lifestyle, and the only way to do that will be to first address – and continually work on improving – your relationship with food and its underlying reasons for being the way it is.

      Emotion will always uproot rationality. Therefore you must address it or everything else will be in vain, as you are learning the hard way. I hope this is helpful to you, and I really want to help so if you’re interested in maybe working through some of it over the coming months (totally free, I’m not trying to charge you or anything), then feel free to drop me an email at christopher@nogym.net.

      I’ve struggled with emotional eating in my life and I know how hard it can be.

      • Chantal

        Hi Chris, thank you for sharing your journey…. I also struggle with emotional eating all my life…. Your story reminds me that I am not alone and that I don’t have to hate myself and feel like a failure because of that.
        I am grateful to (slowly) start to understand that…:-)
        Chantal

  • Jessica Toth

    Hi, Christopher. I ended up at this site after reading your article here: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-bounce-back-from-a-hard-time-and-come-out-stronger/
    Thank you for being so open.

    • http://www.nogym.net Christopher Walker

      Hi Jessica – thanks for stopping by. Yep I feel like being open and honest in writing is the only way to make it therapeutic for both myself and anyone who reads it, and therefore actually impactful.

      Hope to see you around here more!

  • Matt L

    Hey Chris,

    Good to read your story and I’m really liking your site. I’ve been enjoying the RTR podcast too!

    I was just wondering after reading this, at what age were you when you made the significant alterations in your diet and had that increase in height?

    I’d be interested to know.

    Thanks and all the best,

    Matt

    • http://www.nogym.net Christopher Walker

      Hey Matt – thanks! I was 19 when I started making these changes (junior year in university). The height increase took about a year. I think it was kind of like unlocking growth potential that I still had genetically. I believe most men have the potential to grow until around age 25 so if you’re younger than 25 I’d focus on really trying to optimize your hormonal health and growth hormone patterns.

      Hope this helps!
      C

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  • Jonny S

    Hey Chris,
    you are truly inspirational and I thank you very much for sharing your story publicly. I am an 18 year old male (176cm, 64kg, 9%BF) who has excelled in various sports (tennis, Australian Football, cricket, T&F, Cross Country) but discovered almost non-existent testosterone levels earlier this year: 36 for free T (range:300-1000). I have felt lethargic through my middle distance running the last few years and experience all of the associated symptoms of low T. My doctor has recently prescribed me with Androgel (while I wait on an MRI scan on my pituitary) but i’m afraid it may shut down my body’s future supply of endogenous T. Do you think I should quit the Androgel? And, even though distance running is a great passion of mine, would you suggest abstaining from endurance work for a while and focus on resistance? If I do in fact have a pituitary tumour that is the cause of low T, what natural ways do you recommend to approach this?
    Sorry for such a long spiel Chris, I hope I can resolve these problems as efficiently as you have!
    You’re a legend,
    sincere regards,
    Jonny.

    • http://www.nogym.net Christopher Walker

      Hey Jonny thanks for the comment!

      I wouldn’t quit the androgel just yet. Use it for a short period of time while you wait to hear the diagnosis on the MRI, then you can make a more informed decision.

      I do think the single best decision you can make immediately would be to quit distance running tbh. Probably going to be hard at first but it is likely a HUGE source of your low T. Focus on full body compound resistance training for power and keeping your nutrition high enough in saturated fat from animal sources and low in sugar (but moderate in carbs in general).

      Let me know when you hear what the diagnosis is and I’ll be able to help more.

      Have a great week man.

      Chris

      • Jonny S

        Hey Chris,
        So I got the MRI result back and apparently everything appears normal. In some ways I would have preferred to have discovered a growth that was the underlying cause of my ridiculously low T levels. Now i’m really unsure of what course to take, apart from the seemingly unnatural prescription of testogel from my endocrinologist. I really want to find out what the root cause is, because I don’t think the 40-60km of running a week (back when I was doing it earlier this year) would induce such low levels. I want to try and solve it the most natural way possible. Do you think seeing a Naturopathic doctor or Osteopath could be a good move? My endocrinologist is a douchebag.

        Thanks heaps for the support Chris,
        Jonny.

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