Health & Medicine

Working out didn't work out

Jon Rawlins, 26, used hand weights during a Beastmode aerobics class. He started well, but has been sick and not able to exercise.
Jon Rawlins, 26, used hand weights during a Beastmode aerobics class. He started well, but has been sick and not able to exercise. HERALD-LEADER

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." - Edith Lovejoy Pierce, poet

Last January, the Herald-Leader profiled five people who were working with a personal trainer to lose weight.

Some of them had hundreds of pounds to lose.

They started off strong — by late March, they had collectively lost 186 pounds. But as is often the case with new year's resolutions, life got in the way.

Now, some of them are hoping to start afresh in 2014.

"It's been pretty bad," said Jon Rawlins.

Rawlins, 27, weighed 686 pounds in January, but after working with personal trainer Neil Burns, of Richmond, for two months, he had lost 45 pounds. His goal was to be able to walk without a walker.

Now, Rawlins said, he thinks he's gained back most of the weight he had lost, and he often uses a wheelchair. He said he's been sick since May.

"My stomach hurts all the time," he said. "I don't eat a meal and a half a day."

He also has trouble walking. "It's like my legs are slamming into a concrete wall," Rawlins said. He said he is hoping some recent medical tests will help clear up his stomach problem, and he is planning to try to do some physical therapy at home to strengthen his muscles.

Rawlins said he wants to begin working out at the gym again in January. "I felt a whole lot better when I was going," he said.

Jared Webb, 44, started his weight-loss journey at 437 pounds. He lost 18 pounds very quickly, but in early February he was sidelined by a medical prob- lem. He did not return several phone calls about this article.

Theresa Anderson said she is not working out with Burns anymore, but she credits him with helping her start new, healthy habits.

"I still try to watch what I eat and just take everything that I've learned from him and apply it," she said. "He gave me knowledge and the boost to want to do it myself."

Anderson said she swims and lifts weights on her own at the YMCA.

When she began working out with Burns in November 2012, Anderson weighed 330 pounds, and she lost 63 pounds in her first two months of workouts. She said she weighs about 305 now.

Janie Kirby has gained back much of what she lost, too.

Kirby, 57, started the year off hoping to lose about 50 pounds, but she said she hasn't been able to work out as much as she had been in the beginning.

Kirby works with a youth baseball program that took her away from the Beastmode cardiovascular workouts Burns leads at the gym for a few months.

Then she was injured in a car wreck in early November.

She started at 215 pounds and weighs 214 now.

Her husband, Butch Kirby, said he's also gained back some weight, isn't "eating right" and hasn't been going to Beastmode workouts either.

"It's really tough," he said, adding that eating out has been one of his downfalls.

"If I'm there and the food's there, I just can't say no," Butch Kirby said. "Banana pudding, peach cobbler or something ... I can't pass it up."

But Kirby, 59, can still consider himself a success story. He works out five days a week with Burns, lifting weights, walking and doing other cardio activity. He hasn't returned to drinking sodas either. He started last year at 456 pounds; he weighs 412 now.

"I feel better, can do a lot more," Kirby said. "I'm sticking with it."

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