From Obesity To Gym Owner - My 10 Year Transformation - StrongLife

From Obesity To Gym Owner – My 10 Year Transformation


Today I turned 31, which meant it’s 10 years since I kicked off my journey from obesity to gym owner.

It’s kind of like the 10 year anniversary of change.

Changing from struggling with my weight, my body image and above all else, my confidence.

So let’s kick things off from the beginning.

Battling From Obesity To Gym Owner

When I was growing up, I was always a chubby little fella.

It was good in ways – I could perform the ‘truffle shuffle’ at family occasions.

But as the years went by, I realised it wasn’t just the so called ‘puppy fat’.

As I roamed into my teenage years, my relationship with food dramatically worsened.

I began to use food as a fix for anything I was going through.

It was something that gave me temporary relief.

Happy? Treat yourself to food.

Sad? It’s okay, food will help.

Crap day at work? Hello Mr. Galaxy Chocolate.

Great day at work? #YOLO lets get ice cream!

Food was something that I used to pull myself together in stressful situations.

But unfortunately it wasn’t all Kale and Turkey Burgers.

Nope, it was fast food, chocolate, crisps and cans of sugary drinks.

As I went through my later teenage years, it had a detrimental impact on my own mind.

There’s a vicious cycle you fall into when you are really unhappy with your weight.

It goes like this:

You’re really unhappy with your weight/how you look > You turn to food to make yourself feel better > which leads to weight gain which ends up making you feel sad > so you turn to food again.

Repeat cycle to infinity.


Repeat cycle until you’re so fed up of it that something has to change.

And that day came in a few months after my 21st birthday.

The big wake up call was the day I stood on the scales and it tipped 18 Stone (252lbs).

I can still relive that day.

The ball that formed in my stomach of stress, anxiety, but more importantly – anger.

Anger that I had let things go so far.

Anger that I had lived this way.

That day I vowed that it was time to make a move, or accept that this is how I will be stuck in life.


Age 21 vs Age 31

Losing 91 Lbs

I had fallen into such a rut that I was angry with myself.

Angry to the point that I decided to starve myself for 4 days to punish myself.

Looking back, it actually makes me cringe.

But one thing it had a great effect on was the appreciation of food.

Those 4 days completely reset me.

I realised I spent so long eating when I wasn’t at all hungry.

Years had gone by where I didn’t listen to my own body.

But unfortunately, at 21 I hadn’t a notion what I was doing.

I tried to eat healthy, done lots of cardio but my weight rebounded all over the place.

In March 2009, I finally felt like I had gotten my head together for it.

I smashed out circuits, went on a low carb, low calorie diet and hammered myself with cardio.

Every week the pounds kept on dropping.

I was high as a kite seeing the progress.

Compliments started rolling in and that kept motivation higher.

And I kept on ploughing through it.

By September/October 2010, I had dropped to 11st 7lbs, a loss of 91lbs.

But there was a problem.

I had dieted so aggressively and done so much cardio that I had shrunk to nothing.

Yes I had lost a tonne of weight, but I had also lost huge amounts of muscle mass.

I had an arse on me now like 2 eggs in a hanky!

Where I Went Wrong

Looking back at it now, 2 things were prominent.

I became so fixated on the scales that it completely dictated how I felt and viewed myself.

Scales didn’t go down? I hated myself and added to more exercise and ate less as punishment.

Along with that, I somehow had set a target to lose 100lbs.

No reason other than to say “I lost 100lbs, look at me”.

I didn’t take into account my own health or anything.

All I wanted was that number on the scales.

And that ties into the second part which we rarely talk about.

On the outside, I was doing much better.

But inside, I hadn’t addressed a thing.

If anything, I had gone to the other end of the spectrum.

Everywhere I looked, all I seen were calories, carbs and weight gain.

I completely valued myself based on the scales and how I looked.

I had ignored making myself happier, confident and being at peace with myself.

Its something I’ve only recently come to acknowledge.

While I was losing weight, the compliments kept me feeling great.

I was on a great buzz.

But after a year or two, they die down.

And I was left to realise that while I looked better, I wasn’t any happier.

I had chased something that made me feel like I fitted into society better.

A way that I no longer felt like I stood out like a sore thumb.

I didn’t fear nights out, photo’s etc as much.

But once those external values die down, you soon realise that at some point you have to work on your internals.

More on that later.

So back to opening a gym.

StrongLife Gym

In May 2014, I opened the doors to StrongLife Gym.

As part of my transformation process, I started researching training and nutrition.

This was mainly kicked off because when I hit 11st 7, I didn’t look the way I wanted.

So I really started looking into strength training and focusing on adding some muscle

As the years went by, I trained in several gyms.

As I looked around, I kept seeing people like myself.

People who were giving it their all, but not seeing any results.

There’s nothing more frustrating than to feel like you’re doing your best only to fail.

It’s the reason why we can end up quitting even though we are miserable.

And the more I seen this happening, the more I realised it may be time for me to try change it.

So I enrolled on a PT course, I followed some fantastic coaches and I devoured every bit of information I could.

And on the 9th of May 2014, the doors of StrongLife Gym opened and I haven’t looked back.

While it was a big challenge and very stressful, it has been worth every second.

And the people I’ve managed to help, be it as little or as much as possible, have made my job one I love.

The 10 Years In Review

Looking back (over my shoulder), it’s always good to see how we can evolve as a person.

At the age of 21, all I wanted to do was drink cans of cider, go mental every weekend and use alcohol to pretend I had confidence.

At 31, I sip bottles of Corona and not be able to get off the couch for 37 hours after a night out!

But what I really mean is how we can change as a person.

The person I was at 21 was vastly different to the one at 25.

And the 25 year old is hardly recognisable to the 31 year old that sits here writing this today.

For so many years, I looked back feeling like a robbed myself of my teenage years/best years.

The crippling self confidence, being ashamed of my appearance, the fear of taking my pants off in front of a girl.

But when I look back, I realise how it kind of builds the foundation for your future.

I wouldn’t own a gym now had I not gone through all that.

I’d not love my work so much had I not worked a job I detested with every second I was in the place.

And thankfully, I’ve improved my mind, I feel more confident in my own skin and I’ve developed a serious issue with keeping my pants on these days.

One of the best things is that you realise how little we should fear what others think.

It’s why I try act the clown as much as I can.

Life is too serious for me to add to it.

So if I can be an absolute eejit then it might just break the mould.

Everywhere you look there is misery, so maybe you just need a propeller hat to make your day.

As humans, we are blessed by the fact that we have the ability to change our beliefs, our values and how we act and feel.

As we evolve, we can make better choices and decisions.

We can educate ourselves to make more informed life choices.

And those can come in the form of how we eat, how we move, exercise and live.

I’ve seen so many people become more confident, improve their self esteem and enhance their life by simply eating some more vegetables, cleaning up their diet a bit and lifting weights.

The benefits are endless.

And lets not forget to always look after our own mental health too.

Because there’s absolutely no point in having abs on the outside if you’re struggling on the inside.

Look after your body, your mind and your health as a whole.

I can say this because in the last 4 years I’ve had more kebabs than abs yet I am 1000% happier in myself.

(Possibly to the point that I’m a bit cracked in the head).

I’ll do my best to never miss a pint with the lads, I’ll eat that dessert and I’ll go travelling.

Don’t over-complicate this fitness craic.

It’s meant to enhance your life through health and wellbeing.

Not to make you a boring sap who sits at home crying into a bowl of lettuce at weekends.


I’ve rambled a bit, so apologies for that.

The main thing I want you to take from this is –

If your weight/body is currently making you unhappy, then make a change.

It doesn’t need to be big changes, start small and build momentum.

But along with dieting and exercising, be sure to look after your own happiness.

Because a number on a scales will never give you true happiness.

It’s an empty promise we sell to ourselves.

I’ll be happy when I weight X amount.

I’ll do X,Y or Z when I have X amount of money.

But if you keep waiting until then to actually begin to be happy and live a good life, then you may be left disappointed.

So start today.

Just do 1 simple thing each day to move you towards that future self you want to achieve.

Eat a good, healthy meal.


Take a walk by the ocean.

Climb a mountain.


Make someone laugh.

Go do that 1 thing you keep telling yourself every month that you will do.


You owe it to yourself.


We may as well live life like it’s the only one we get.

Don’t leave things until tomorrow.

Start today.

And if StrongLife Gym could be a place for you to start your journey, then by all means, get in touch.

Thank you for reading.

Have a great Bank Holiday Weekend.

Goodnight, god bless, safe home.


This article has been written thanks to the power of coffee, The Lighthouse Family – Lifted and possibly too many self help books.

Colm Duignan

Colm Duignan

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Emer - June 2, 2018 Reply

Well Done colm.
Really proud of you.
Much impressed.
I hate giving data!

Liz Coyle - June 2, 2018 Reply

Powerful words..where are you based

    Colm Duignan
    Colm Duignan - June 3, 2018 Reply

    Thank you Liz. I’m based in Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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