A Motivational Journey — From 96lbs to 180lbs

We have all been there. Whether you are just taking those first steps away from the couch, or you have been lifting for years, everyone hits it. The Wall. A period where your motivation is close to zero and the gym has become a monotonous routine, if a routine at all. That’s why I want to share with you the story of my friend Duglas, who not only inspires me to go to the gym, but to be a better man.


Duglas had just completed his last exam at George Brown. He had one more semester left in his architectural program. The night of his final exam, Duglas was jumped on his way home by three guys and left on the street. His body shut down, he was induced into a temporary coma to reduce the swelling and inflammation in his brain. He faced bouts of seizures, blackouts and amnesia. He forgot friends, family, his own daughter. He would put notes on pictures saying “This is my daughter”, and this fired his anger and frustration, which he then channelled into change. His daughter saved his life. Duglas wants to focus on empathy not sympathy, the moral of his story is that you can overcome anything.


Age: 22

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 96 lbs

Duglas leaving the hospital

Rather than wallow and self pity, he decided to fight and grow stronger. The first thing Duglas did after leaving the rehab centre was join GoodLife. He started courses to become a personal trainer and set goals for himself. If your goals do not challenge you, they will not change you. Duglas set the goal to compete. And that’s what he did.


Duglas’ first show was in the OPA Oktoberfest Classic. He knew before entering the show he was going to be the smallest guy, and he was. Duglas was so small that they didn’t have a category for him. He was placed in the lightweight division against competitors who were a minimum 20lbs heavier. It would have been easy to skip the show, and continue to build his physique but he set a goal for himself. It didn’t matter that he finished 4th out of 4, he was going to do it. After walking out on that stage he was hooked, he returned to the gym with a new passion.

Weight: 130 lbs

Duglas at his first show, the OPA Oktoberfest Classic


Duglas was no longer the smallest guy in the show. He had bulked up to 150lbs of lean muscle. The next competition he placed first in his class and third overall in the Ontario Physique Association’s (OPA) very first mens’ physique category (Stratford Season Opener). Since then, Duglas has been a prominent influence within the OPA and is known as a men’s physique posing coach. I’m not saying routinely going to the gym is going to be easy, I’m telling you that it’s going to be worth it. He worked consistently for everything he achieved. No one but yourself is responsible for hitting every rep, switching a pop for a water or doing that 10 minutes on the treadmill. Fitness is you vs. yourself and is just as mentally challenging as it is physically. It’s up to you to make a change.

Weight: 150 lbs

First in class and third place overall winner at the OPA Stratford Season Opener


The future was very bright for Duglas. He was at 160lbs and on his journey to 180 with plans for a television show, competing at CBBF Canadian Nationals, and modelling in the near future.

Duglas at 180lbs

Then everything crashed like a pair of 100 dumbbells. Duglas was diagnosed with cancer. He dropped from 180 to 130lbs in a few short months. His body could on longer do the things his heart wanted. Duglas quit. You would expect this to be the easiest path, but that wasn’t the case. His dad decided not to let his fitness dream die. They made a pact, Duglas would continue to fight his battle with lymphoma while helping his dad fulfil his dream of competing in a fitness show. After leaving his passion for being a fitness trainer, Duglas was returning to The Cage (his workout, explained below). He was going to be his Dad’s fitness coach and prep him for competition. He helped his Dad go from 220 to 160lbs and compete at the OPA Oktoberfest Classic, the very same competition he started in two years prior. His fitness journey had come full circle. When you think about quitting, remember why you started. Using his daughter and father as motivation he refused to give up.

Duglas and his Father


Duglas is in remission. He returned to personal training and is now setting new goals. You don’t have to be perfect to inspire others. Let people be inspired by how you deal with your imperfections, failures, and struggles. Duglas allowed me to share this story because he wants to inspire others. His love for fitness has led him to partner in developing a fitness app, the Vine for fitness. The biggest takeaway is not the lows but how he fought for the highs. So when I feel a little shitty, I think of what he went through, and it’s easier to lace up those gym shoes. When I’m a little tired, I think of how draining cancer was for him, and get a little pep in my step. The difference between try and triumph is a little umph. So if you’re feeling like you might skip today’s workout, GO. If you are planning on beginning your fitness as your new year’s resolution, START TODAY. Remember what started you on this journey and follow the keys to success.

Duglas and his daughter

Things You Need To Be Successful:

· Positive Attitude — What happens in life must be taken in stride

· Determination — There is no half assing, half repping formula to success. You get out what you put into the Iron Church

· Support System — You can’t start this journey alone. Find someone who shares similar goals, whether it’s your best friend or a fitness community

· Overcome Obstacles — Duglas’ story highlights extreme obstacles that have been overcome. Whether it’s an injury, a plateau or loss of motivation it’s up to YOU to overcome it

· Goals — if you’re not setting any goals, how are you bettering yourself? Chose something. Write it down, tell a friend, take progress photos and you will feel more responsible for achieving it


Whether it was because of an injury, health, or lack of motivation his go to program is the The

Cage. The Cage consists of the main lifts movements following a 10x10 scheme, and the

accessory lifts following a 3x10 scheme. Duglas keeps the weight low but maintains high

intensity and keeps his rest periods short.


· Squat 10 x 10

· Deadlift 10 x 10

· Bench 10 x 10

· Lunges 3 x 10

· Bent Over Rows 3 x 10

· Upright Rows 3 x 10


Due to his rigorous workout scheme, Duglas’ diet consisted of a major caloric surplus. He would

eat anything and everything. The supplements he took during his bulk included a weight gainer

protein powder, glutamine, BCAAs, multivitamin, and fish oil. Being a full time trainer, his life

revolved around the gym, and Duglas always made sure he got enough sleep and rest.

Duglas today