James Werner is a 2019 National Challenge finalist and member at Farrell’s Andover, Minnesota. James’ transformational story is truly powerful. We are incredibly proud of him and honored that he is part of the Farrell’s family. Congratulations, James!
A Symbolic Moment
As I reflect upon this year and how Farrell’s has changed my life, I’m reminded of a day I spent on the golf course last Fall. My golf ball missed the green and went into a water hazard. Being the competitive person I am, and always wanting to improve, I punished myself in my mind for the mistake I had made. I sat in the golf cart to retrieve my ball, and a dragonfly landed on my leg. In that moment, everything changed for me.
It was as if the dragonfly was sent at that moment to remind me of what I've fought so hard for over this past year. Just as the dragonfly is known to symbolize transformation, adaptability, and self-realization, that's exactly what Farrell's means to me at this stage of my life. We all set goals to help us become better versions of ourselves. The important thing we should focus on is not only the physical changes we experience but also the changes occurring within us every day.
My Physical Transformation
The physical transformation I experienced with Farrell’s is truly amazing. I've lost over 93 pounds and 28% body fat – I’m now at 5.5% body fat! I've improved my internal health by lowering my visceral fat level from an 18 to a 1. I tripled my push-ups and more than doubled the number of sit-ups I can do in one minute. I can do over 60 of each in one minute! I can run a 6-minute and 53-second mile, and I’ve become a runner. I have completed multiple races, from 5K to 15K! I've competed in Ragnar team relay runs, the Rugged Maniac, and Terrain Race obstacle courses. I wrapped up the year running my first half marathon in the Humana Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in Las Vegas, Nevada! I finished in 2 hours and 17 minutes.
The success I've enjoyed is partially due to the members of my Farrell's gym and their belief in me – not only as a person, but the belief that we are stronger together. I experienced this first-hand when three fellow Farrell’s members – that have become close friends – flew to Las Vegas to surprise me the day I ran my half marathon! The only gambling they did while in Vegas was on me and their belief in my ability to succeed. They were there to support me and cheer me on as I accomplished this major personal milestone. This support is something that I’ve never known in my life, other than from family and loved ones. It has fueled the fire inside of me to continue to push myself. It’s proof that anything is possible with a support group that believes in each other.
I have proven to myself that I can overcome obstacles and accomplish my goals. With every success, I have felt pride in myself for working hard and not giving up. But along the way, I’ve also had my share of failures. I learned from these and use that knowledge to continue growing every day. But those physical accomplishments aren't the only changes that have occurred within me. I have worked just as hard on becoming mentally healthy, too. True happiness is experienced when you become healthy as a whole being.
My Mental Transformation
A tree can appear to be healthy and strong while standing tall. However, if the inside of the tree is unhealthy and the roots are rotten, it is unlikely to weather vigorous storms and remain standing.
In the same way, a person can be physically fit, but never benefit from their hard work if they don’t gain confidence and self-esteem. Without this, they’re likely to crumble at the first sign of adversity and eventually return to the person they once were – including the old habits that were unhealthy in the first place.
Joining Farrell’s helped me become healthy after being overweight and out of shape. It also allowed me to search my soul for the deeper issues that caused me to get to this place in my life, period. It led me back to my childhood and a time in elementary school where I was one of the fastest and most athletic kids in my class – and when that changed. I became severely obese. I even reached the point where I outweighed kids in my grade by nearly 100 pounds.
That was the beginning of many years of struggling with my weight. It led me down a road to severe depression and suicidal thoughts. This was a huge factor in my drinking patterns and becoming an alcoholic. All of that happened without ever really having a grasp at what changed within myself – from a fun-loving child, to a negative and hateful human being. All of these changes occurred without understanding the reason behind them. I spent years wishing for my life to end, trying to drink myself to death, or eventually giving in and trying to commit suicide. I thought that my life was a waste and the world would be a better place with one less big fat failure in it.
But it wasn't until I joined Farrell's and made a commitment to myself that I was able to start to find the answers to the questions I had been searching for. Although it took me over 35 years to ever admit it to anyone, I found the strength within certain members of Farrell's that I had grown close to and came to trust. For the first time in my life, I admitted to another human being that I had been abused as a child for an extended period of time. This abuse corresponded with the start of all my childhood issues. I had a part of my life taken from me, and in turn, I spent years throwing even more of my life away, trying to forget the horror and pain that I had been through. It was only through the strength of these individuals that I have been able to finally start to grow strong myself, and God willing, become the man I was meant to be all along.
Finding My True Self
So how has Farrell’s changed my life?
In the simplest explanation possible, it’s finally made me feel like I have one – a life. It has given me a reason to wake up grateful each morning, and it's part of the blessings that I count every night. Without Farrell's, I don't really believe I would have found my true self.
I know for certain that I wouldn’t have found my true self. That’s because Farrell's isn't just a gym to me. It isn't a group of friends or family. Farrell's, and every person there, has become a part of me. They all have a stake in the things I've accomplished. They’re all pieces to a puzzle that, when complete, creates a picture of the person I am today. And with each new member that I become close to in the future, the person I am will continue to become greater. There isn't anything that’s impossible in my life with these individuals by my side. Together we are Farrell’s strong!