I met Evan AuCoin at HMCS Quadra, a Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Camp, in the summer of 2005. He’s one of the biggest teddy bears that I’ve ever met, and his weight loss journey below is truly inspiring!
Why I Lift
First off, my name is Evan AuCoin. I’m a 28 year old musician and power lifter from St. John’s Newfoundland, in Canada. I have a background in small business education and development as well as political science.
Four years ago, I had just finished university and was working in a furniture warehouse to make ends meet while looking for a job in my field. One day I was working with a pry bar fixing a broken ramp in the warehouse and wrenched my back. I had some pain but didn’t think too much of it until I woke up the next morning. The pain was excruciating but I needed the money, so off to work i went. I ended up going home early that day and went to the doctor the next morning. He put me on medical leave and referred me to a physiotherapist. This started a frustrating cycle of physio sessions, doctors visits, and further medical leave/workers comp. After three months off work, it was clear physio wasn’t helping as I’d made no progress and the pain was still persistent. My lifting capabilities were absolutely nil, and life beyond lying on the couch was becoming difficult. At this point I was referred to an occupational therapist. She informed me my physiotherapist had listed that I was cleared to lift up to 50lbs, despite having done no assessments of my actual strength. The occupational therapist assessed me and discovered I couldn’t even lift more than 5lbs comfortably. This was a bit of a shock to a guy who’d be lifting couches and bedroom sets only a few months prior.
This started three months of aggressive occupational therapy and rehabilitation. My occupational therapist and trainer were both amazing. They coached me from broken back to strength and got me back to work. After six months on workers comp I finally returned to work, only to be treated with kid gloves because of my injury, and eventually i was laid off. Thankfully around the same time I was hired for a job in my field so things worked out there.
Though I had been physically rehabilitated, mentally I was in rough shape. The injury weighed heavy on my mind and instilled a fear in me. This fear stopped me from exercising the way I had before. I stopped going to the gym, my diet went out of whack, and I started gaining weight. Two years ago I tipped the scales at 380lbs (172.7kg). This scared me! My energy levels were low, my stamina was nil, and I was depressed with my own body. I tried different fad diets and meal plans, but no matter how much I lost, I always gained it back shortly after the diet was over (because I had lost my self control and was afraid to exercise).
Last March I finally decided enough was enough, I needed to get healthy. My girlfriend, Cassandra, who’s been my rock for the last four years had already started taking steps to reclaim her health and she inspired me to do the same. So I started walking and eating better. I started to drop weight and feel better about myself but I knew walking wasn’t going to be enough. Cassandra had started powerlifting in April and loved it. I had met her coaches and the people in her class and it seemed like it might be a good fit.
On September 30th, 2017 I attended my first class with the Iron Bodyworks Powerlifting team and since then I’ve been hooked. The coaches, Tom Kean and Stef Puddicombe have been amazing in helping me strengthen my body, lose weight, and feel comfortable with my back again. The fear that had grown such deep roots has been plucked out and replaced with a thirst, to get better, stronger, and healthier. Four years ago I was so hurt that I couldn’t lift 5lbs. On March 28th, 2018 I dead lifted 147.5kg/324.5lbs. My top lifts as of April 3rd 2018 are a 137.5kg/302.5lb squat, a 147.5/324.5lb dead lift and a 80kg/176lb bench press. I’ve lost 89lbs (40.5kg) and currently weigh 271lbs (123.2kg). I’ve also started counting my macros with hopes of dropping to 230lbs (104.5kg) by the end of the summer so that I can compete as a power lifter at 105kgs. Two years ago, at 380lbs (172.7kg), I never thought any of this could be possible. I look at how far I’ve come since I started on this journey and I’m blown away.
This week I’m competing for my first ever powerlifting meet. As a kid I was (and still am) a bookish nerd, I played sports but I wasn’t athletic. I was always considered more cerebral than physical, but now, I’m an athlete. I’ve never identified with that word before but now I do, its taken some getting used to but its been a welcome lifestyle change. I have my girlfriend Cassandra to thank for so much of this. She’s been my beacon, my north star, and my inspiration through all of this. Without her I don’t know where I’d be but I know I wouldn’t be anywhere near as happy or healthy as I am now.
I still have a long way to go, but six months into my powerlifting journey I can’t even imagine going back to how things were. Six months ago I was afraid I’d never get strong. Now I have my eyes set on competing provincially (and maybe even nationally) next year. Two years ago, the word athlete was a foreign term. Athlete’s were people I watched on television while drinking beer and eating chicken wings, now I am one. Mentally and physically, my whole world has changed, and it feels amazing, it was hard to find the motivation but now that I have it, I’m never going back to the way tings were. For anyone out there unhappy with where they are health wise, but think that they cant take control or they’re too far gone, you aren’t. There’s always hope, there’s always a way, you just need to find what works for you, make a plan, and stick to it. The most important thing for me has been finding a way to exercise that I love and building a support network around me to keep motivated.
Hang in there, keep working, and you can achieve any goal you set your mind to.