A Story of Weight Loss Transformation – Danny Crosby – Loses a Staggering 8 Stone!
The first in a series for Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, is a brand new feature: Wellness Journeys. Danny Crosby is the first in this series.
Danny is a man in long-term recovery from alcoholism. In recovery, he has found his calling as a Unitarian Minister. I speak from personal experience in saying that he is a truly wonderful man. Not only has he transformed his life in his recovery, but he has recently transformed his physical self. In August 2016, the UK media exploded with his story (The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, The Real Fix) for losing eight stone in eight months and winning Slimming World’s Man of the Year.
He has taken the time to share his experience, for Liv’s Recovery Kitchen, and I hope you find his story as inspiring as I have.
Here is a little video, with an overview of his transformation.
Danny’s Wellness Journey
“Once the spiritual malady is overcome we straighten out mentally and physically” (pg 64 “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism” Fourth Edition).”
Over the years I have discovered the truth of this simple promise (above) of the fourth step of the 12 Step Recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I remember well the man who took the time to guide me into recovery through this simple tried, tested and trusted method, that if I am spiritually well, the rest will take care of itself. Well the last near thirteen years, since I last took a drink or any other mind or mood altering substance have proved this to be 100% true. In fact as I sit and write my experiences here I see this truth more clearly than I have ever done before. This is what the slogan “First things first” simply means, that if you are in fit spiritual condition the mental and the physical will be taken care of.
I was born with a sense of just feeling wrong, that there was something wrong with me. Now over the years I have blamed this on many things. One being my upbringing that was far from ideal, quite frightening to be honest. Another one being the fact that my father was a gay man and that he should not have married and had children and another being the physical problems that I was born with meant I could not do many of the things that other children could do. None of these made me an alcoholic or an addict, that said I did grow up with this sense of something being fundamentally wrong with me. I grew up with a sense of shame about my being, particularly my physical being, my body.
I discovered alcohol and drugs at a young age and took to them well. This led to a life of hedonism and many identities over many years. They took away the shame and the fear and allowed me to escape the pain, the shame and the self-loathing. Over the years though my life fell apart many times but due to my immense will power I managed to rebuild it again and again, well at least until the very end.
I instantly connected to the message that it was the first drink that did the damage. I had could see this from day one. That as soon as began to drink I had absolutely no control over how many I had…What I couldn’t accept was that I had lost the power of choice also.”
I believed in nothing, least of all people. Yes I loathed who I had become but saw nothing of any virtue in anyone else. I may not have wanted my life, but I certainly didn’t want anyone else’s. I was willing though and I remained open and honest, I have never for one second “faked it to make it” in recovery. This simply would not work, recovery is about sincerity and honesty.
The journey into recovery was not easy. I accepted personal powerlessness but struggled to believe in anything. It was suggested I could use the group or fellowship as a Higher Power, but found that a struggle. I believed in nothing, least of all people. Yes I loathed who I had become but saw nothing of any virtue in anyone else. I may not have wanted my life, but I certainly didn’t want anyone else’s. I was willing though and I remained open and honest, I have never for one second “faked it to make it” in recovery. This simply would not work, recovery is about sincerity and honesty. I carried on working though the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” (often called the Big Book”) with the sponsor and the steps contained within it and over the coming months I had some incredibly powerful life transformative spiritual experiences that I cannot explain. I overcame the spiritual malady as I saw the truth about myself and my life and became conscious of a Power Greater than myself. I did not feel alone for the very first time in my life, I did not feel wrong for the very first time in my life, the fear just seem to leave me and my mind came to rest. I have never been the same man since. I had found a power by which I could live and I began to live by it. Ever since this time I have turned my will and my life over to this Power and attempted to live by its loving will. This is not an abdication of responsibility, I do not hand it over it, quite the opposite what I do is fully live my part in life. I no longer suffer from the spiritual malady that kept me trapped in self.
Over the next few years I began to straighten out in a mental sense and commenced to rebuild my life and relationships. This was not an overnight affair, but I stuck at it, day by day. I forged a new career and helped to bring a lot of healing to the wider family. This brings to my mind the following line from the “Big Book”, “Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead. We must take the lead.” (pg 83). It is referencing the amends process and the rebuilding of ones relationship with the wider world. I found that as I did my mental state improved day by day, as I lived this simple life. Remembering always what I had been promised, “That if I am spiritually well, everything else will be taken care.” This was my task and each day I have done my best to ensure this. I also began working with other alcoholics and addicts immediately. I have probably taken about fifty men through the book and the steps over the last 12 years and about half of them have found and maintained recovery. They have in turn gone on to help others.
I experienced a kind of emotional and spiritual rock bottom. During this moment of surrender something changed within me. This opened me up to the possibility of seeking help and on returning home I began my weight loss journey…
Despite all this there has been one area of my life that until recently recovery had not really reached. This has been my physical being and my relationship with my own body. Over the last few years I have grown bigger and bigger and continued to gain weight. This finally came to a head just over twelve months ago and I began to wake up to myself on a new physical level. Now the journey actually began at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. During the Watch Night service I led, I wrote on my piece of paper, that I burnt in the ceremony with others, that one thing I wanted to let go of was my excess weight. It had begun on trip to Alton Towers with some friends. I had become embarrassed during the day as every time I went on a ride I couldn’t fit into the safety harness and had to be put in the special seat for the very large. I left that day full of shame, but said nothing about it at the time. For months I made small attempts to change but could not bring it about myself. I also suffered a bout of bad health at the beginning of the year. I became quite ill, twice, and became increasingly concerned about my physical well-being. I also noticed how this was impacting on my mental, emotional and spiritual health. Other people were noticing too and making comments.
Since the weight loss I’ve been on another physical journey too as I have come to terms with physical problems I have had all my life. As I lost the weight I began to exercise too, just walking to begin with, which was very painful. I could only walk for 15 minutes at first, but within a fortnight I could walk for over an hour and within a month for four hours. Prayer and meditation was key to this as it kept me going in those moments of doubt, especially at the beginning. The Power that has kept me away from the first drink or drug kept me going when my body wanted to give in.
After I had lost the weight I realised that there was more that needed to be done. I had all my life lived with a great deal of shame about my physical being. I was born with back problems, the nerve endings in the base of my spine were underdeveloped. This meant I couldn’t do a lot of things that other children could do. There was a time when I had to have physiotherapy at primary school and wasn’t allowed to do sport. I remember powerfully the feeling of shame and exclusion I felt as I couldn’t join in. I also walked funny and was called penguin and cripple along with other things. I also grew up with a sense of being small and weak. So as I grew up I developed a phobia towards exercise etc.
After losing the weight I felt it was time to face up to these problems that were holding me back and keeping me closed in, stopping me from being the man I really am.
Earlier this year I began receiving massage therapy and this was another turning point. Through the massage therapy I began to face up to some of these problems and eventually joined a gym. I just found the courage one day and began. Since Easter I’ve been working with a trainer there and eventually a physiotherapist and am finally dealing with all these things that once held me back. It is amazing the progress I have made in just a few months. How I have disproved so many beliefs I have held about myself that have held me back. Just in the last few weeks I feel I have awakened to whole new experience with my physical self. I am loving it and feel excited about what the future holds. I feel ready now for the second half of my life.
My life these last 13 years or so has been one of being opened up to new experiences, new awakenings, new beginnings. I am very excited about what the future holds for me and wonder what will come next. I have never felt more alive, more connected, more at ease with myself and the world around me. My connection to that Power that is at the core of all life has grown, as the awakening has continued. I have never felt more conscious of God’s all-embracing love. I wonder what will come next and am excited by it. I see very clearly how the spiritual, the mental and the physical are deeply connected, and that through them emotional well-being comes. That said if I have learnt anything in recovery I have learnt the importance of “First things First”. My sponsor was 100% correct when he told me that if I am spiritually well the rest will take care of its self. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.
In fellowship Danny CrosbyDanny has a great blog, check it out (link here)!