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Hey Tom,

At the end of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM), you mention that you're interested in hearing how your readers fare after taking action for a few months, so I thought I'd send you my story as a sort of thanks for the benefits I've enjoyed.

I feel almost like the start of my story is a bit unusual because of how ordinary it was. I experienced no moment of catharsis that turned my life around from tragedy into triumph; I had (and still have) a job I enjoy, great friends and family, and the intermittent date. I was, in short, doing fine.

However, a couple little cracks in my picture started appearing, in the form of minor health issues. I lacked energy, to the point where I couldn't enjoy a day trip with friends or a girl; I had recurring insomnia, which made everything more difficult, and last summer I had to start taking medication for high blood pressure (at age 25). In the fall, I started making a real effort to get regular exercise for the first time in my life, and the insomnia and listlessness went away.

However, months went by, 2005 rolled in, and I still had a spare tire around my middle and a bottle of blood pressure pills next to my bed. The medication started to bug me more and more - it felt like I was handicapped somehow, and had to ask someone's permission just to be a normal person.

One day in January, I asked my doctor what the prognosis was for getting off this accursed drug, and he said that it was generally not possible, and that I would probably have to take it for the rest of my life. This unlocked a kind of resolve that I haven't had since high school, when I was trying to get into a good college. Little did my doctor know - being told that my goal was "impossible" woke up my natural tendency towards righteous defiance, and from there on, I bent every bit of time, resources, money, thought and willpower I had into my health.

I soon realized that determination is great, but you need direction too, and I still didn't know why my time at the gym wasn't resulting in dramatic change. So I got a personal trainer and started going through every book I could find on health, fitness and hypertension; this is where your ebook, "BFFM" came in.

Like many other readers, I'm sure, I liked it because it wasn't a thinly-veiled front for a supplement company, because the ideas made basic common sense, and also because of its emphasis on explaining why, in addition to what. Finally, in one of the chapters, you made the comment that "long and difficult doesn't sell." Well, it certainly sold me - I knew all along that it would be long and difficult, and I wanted direction, not sugar-coating.

My personal trainer, though very helpful with weight-training technique, proved inexperienced with nutrition and overall strategy, so "BFFM," along with my hypertension resources (which agreed with your advice to a surprising degree), became the foundation of my plan and a key reference that I found myself going back to a number of times. On their combined information, I completely threw out my entire concept of eating and nutrition (and most of the food in my kitchen as well!) and started over from scratch. Whole grains, less fat, fruits and vegetables, six meals a day, extra vitamins, more fish, paying attention to calories, the whole nine yards. I told myself: this is not a diet. This is my life now.

Despite the fact that I had tried to make the leap to excellent fitness a couple times before, with no success, this time it felt completely different, because I had the last magical piece - direction. It didn't feel like my latest side project; it felt inevitable, like my built-up frustration with my health issues finally had an outlet. As I went along, I started to realize that I had a number of other bottled-up frustrations from my past - feeling embarrassed that I failed the grade-school pull-up test, having the girls overwhelmingly favor the athletes in high school and college - that were all related to being out of shape. The more miles I ran, or pounds I lifted, the more my past fed my feeling of defiance, and it became a bottomless source of motivation.

Now it seems like a long time since that doctor's appointment, but in reality it's been only about five months. In that time I've lost 25 pounds, shaved my body fat down to 13% (from 22%), and gotten stronger in the process. My pants started falling off, and I had to buy all new ones (and a couple months later, I had to replace those as well). I realized that I had been wearing XL shirts to play down my spare tire, and to my great satisfaction, those are gone too now, in favor of more stylish, close-fitting fare. My newfound athleticism actually became somewhat of a conversation topic among the girls at work, and people everywhere started commenting that I looked more fit (even people in my apartment building who I barely knew!)

And, finally, the icing on the cake: two weeks ago, I was able to step down my blood pressure medication, and then stop altogether. As I'm writing these words, my home BP monitor says I'm at 123/78. In a small but significant way, I feel like a whole person again.

Having slimmed down to this point, now it's time for "phase 2," as I call it - building muscle, strength, and a commanding physical presence. Recovering from being behind, I decided, will only be the beginning. Now I get to think about how I want to explore my potential, and the possibilities are very exciting.

How interesting it is that even now, people say I always looked fine before even as they talk about how much I've improved. This has taught me that there's a vast difference between "fine" and "great." It's the difference between complacency and success.

So: thank you. After more than 20 years of fitness frustration, your book was the last piece of the puzzle. This change has redefined the basic way I view myself, and lends an aura of satisfaction to almost everything I do in my day.

Here's to a bright future

Dave Weeder
USA

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