Garrett Foster stopped keeping track of his weight after he hit 330 pounds. The 34-year-old, based just outside of Nashville, gained the weight after living what he called a “stationary” lifestyle. But after a close call with death, Foster decided it was time to get moving, dropping an estimated 80 pounds to date.
“I sat at a desk for most of the day at work and then continued to sit when I got home on the couch or in front of the computer,” Foster says. “I felt like I had no energy to do anything. I just wanted to mentally check out for a few hours before repeating the process the next day.”
As Foster explained, he was heavy throughout his entire adult life. With the weight came low self-esteem, which he tried to hide through self-deprecating humor or false humility. Though he knew he wanted to change, he simply didn’t know how.
“Constantly feeling like a failure would bring on bouts of depression. The anger I had at myself would get misdirected at those closest to me,” Foster says. This would perpetuate the negative cycle. But in 2016, Foster was hit with a reality check, and everything changed.
“I had an umbilical hernia that I ignored for several years and it became incarcerated, which led to bowel strangulation,” he says. His hernia also caused sepsis and bowel perforation. Thinking he caught a bad flu, Foster went to the doctor. At first, they believed he had pneumonia, but luckily the doctors had Foster schedule a visit with a surgeon just in case. What started out as a surgical consult turned into an emergency surgery with three to four inches of his bowel getting removed.
“Getting asked if I had a living will by the hospital staff prepping me for surgery while my wife, who was seven months pregnant with our twins, tried to explain to me what was going on in layman’s terms was a pretty clear ‘lightbulb’ moment,” Foster says. But it would still be some time before he fully regained his health.
Immediately after his surgery, Foster’s wife gave birth to their twins. For Foster, the first year of parenthood was a blur: “It was full-on survival mode,” he says. “I didn’t care what I was eating, so long as it was warm and ready immediately so that I could inhale it before dealing with a baby.”
Once things settled, Foster turned his attention to his own well-being. At first, he and his wife tried a few diets and made a general effort to eat “better,” but nothing really took hold for long. It wasn’t until 2018 when he walked into CrossFit that things changed.
The owner of the CrossFit box happened to be a personal friend of both Foster and his wife—the three of them had played in a band together in high school. The Fosters joined the gym in early 2018. There, he found the coaching that he needed and a supportive, close-knit community that kept him accountable.
“The weight started dropping quickly,” he says. “But more importantly, I was getting stronger.” For Foster, there were still days he just didn’t want to go to the gym or eat healthily. But those excuses went out the door the first time he deadlifted more than he’d ever weighed. “This was something that I could do, and I was getting better at it,” he says.
Somewhere along the way, the Fosters realized they had to learn to be a little selfish, too. Between work, two-year-old twins, and working out, they had little time for others, let alone themselves. But the missed events and the empty social calendar was all worth it when Foster stepped on the scale to see a new number: 247 pounds.
“It felt awesome the first time I went into an Old Navy and just picked a pair of pants off the shelf and they fit,” Foster says. “I didn’t have to struggle to get them on or go online to buy them because they didn’t carry my size in the store. To top it off, they were slim-fit. ‘Slim’ was just about the last word I would use to describe myself.”
Now, Foster weighs less than he can ever remember. But, more importantly, he says, he’s the strongest he’s ever been. “I no longer think, ‘he doesn’t mean me,’ when the gym’s email blast refers to ‘Athletes,’” he says.
The secret to Foster’s success was finding a community. And he thinks it can work for you too. “Accountability and support go a long way,” he says. “If you know that you need to change and want to change, but you just don’t know how to start, get help. Join a class. Get a trainer. These people have made it their mission in life to help people better themselves.”
And remember: Keep it simple. “I feel like people are always a little disappointed when they ask ‘what’s your secret?’ and my answer is ‘diet and exercise,’” he says. “Be in a caloric deficit and get off your rump and move. Be willing to make yourself uncomfortable.”
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