As an obese 175kg man, Adrian Owen was so embarrassed by his body that he refused to look at his reflection and lived in relative isolation. Four years on, the father-of-two is now trim and lean, having transformed himself both physically and mentally. And last year, Adrian even flaunted his new physique at the Wellington bodybuilding championships and won the novice division.
When he held up his trophy in September, after shedding 75kg, Adrian was able to look back on how far he had come. “At first, I wanted to lose weight because I was so huge. But then I decided to step out of my comfort zone and go on stage in front of people wearing my undies,” he laughs. “I was committed to getting in the best shape possible.”
Growing up in Whangarei, Adrian (42) was brought up in a household that promoted physical wellbeing. His father Ray was a bodybuilder and won Mr New Zealand three times. However, after moving to Dunedin to own and run a bar, Adrian says becoming a dad to Maia (9) and Ryder (7) affected the way he took care of himself.
“My time and effort went into my business and my children. I was eating all the wrong foods, stopped working out and stopped loving myself.”
He was also in denial about how big he was getting and avoided looking in the mirror.
“I convinced myself that if I perceived myself as being healthy, then that was the reality,” he admits.
He says his wake-up call occurred four years ago, after a near-death experience. “I fell asleep behind the wheel of my car. I had my two children and my former partner, their mother, with me. My partner woke me up just before we were about to crash into a parked car.”
Adrian, who now lives in Wellington, went for a medical checkup, where he received a very grim diagnosis.
“When it came time to weigh me, the needle on the scales went all the way around the dial. They had to get another scale – one for each foot.”
Adrian was told he was at risk of contracting diabetes, had high blood pressure and that if he continued his unhealthy lifestyle, he would likely be dead within five years.
“The news made me realise I needed to do something.”
His first big decision was to exercise. But Adrian was so embarrassed about his weight, he couldn’t face working out with others at a gym, so he exercised in his garage.
“When I finally looked at myself in the mirror, I broke down crying.”
Exercising and sticking to a ketogenic diet – a high fat and low carbohydrate programme – is what helped him lose weight. As he was shedding the kilos, Adrian took a photo of himself every three weeks and posted his progress on his Facebook page. “I was exposing my ugly bits to the world – that’s the hardest thing to do.”
After he had lost 75kg, Adrian followed in his dad’s footsteps and entered a bodybuilding contest. He says it was the proudest day of his life when he saw Ray and his two children cheering him on when he won. Now that he’s fit and healthy, Adrian cherishes the time he spends with his children, and admits he is ready to find love again.
Currently working as a personal trainer, he is helping others with their weight-loss battles. “If I can help motivate one person to get back to loving themselves, then that would be awesome.”
To follow Adrian's journey, visit his website Adrianowen.me
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