The Asher Fox Story

 

An Excerpt from Fat to Fearless®

 

Life can be challenging for a 300-pound personal trainer, trust me, I know. Not all of my years in the fitness industry were spent being so overweight, but they were all spent on the roller coaster of weight loss ups and downs that came with constantly losing weight only to regain it.

I only reached a full 300 pounds once in my career, and I didn’t stay that heavy for very long. On average, however, I was always struggling with at least an extra 50 pounds. I was the poster child for “knowledge doesn’t equal success.”

I was also the poster child for “desire itself does not create success.” In my entire life there was nothing I desired with more intensity than the body I saw many of my fitness colleagues have, which they appeared to obtain with ease.

Bench_AfterI entered the fitness industry and became a certified personal trainer with the belief that knowing so much about fitness, being surrounded by fit people constantly, and having my very income and livelihood depend on my body would guarantee I would look and feel the way I wanted. But in the end, I found that I still struggled with the same issues I always had. Food was not my friend and having to exercise often felt like my enemy.

I had grown up as an overweight child in a predominately overweight family. Both of my parents had weight issues and my household was anything but a model for healthy eating habits. My parents moved a lot when I was a child. My dad liked Florida and my mom wanted to live in Virginia, so we lived in both, with several compromises in between.

As a child, this was a rather lonely life. We rarely lived anywhere longer than a year or so, and that didn’t present many options to create lasting friendships. I had a brother and a sister, but both were more than 15 years older than me and had already left home and started their own families.

I turned to fiction for friendship. I spent time with Superman, Batman, Spiderman and other comic book heroes. While I learned lessons from those books about right and wrong and good overcoming evil, which mirrored the lessons I learned from my father, I also learned what a hero, what “good” looked like. He was muscular, fit, and always inspired admiration from the female characters. I learned that “good” didn’t look like me.

As I grew older, I also learned that I liked more than food. I liked girls. A lot. This was mostly a one-way obsession that was the first of many lessons I learned about how my weight and body seemed to limit my happiness in the areas I wanted most. It wouldn’t be the last. The inferiority complex that developed around my appearance and my weight bled over into other areas of my life, and I soon found myself always assuming that I would be picked last no matter what the activity or social venue.

For some reason, despite being overweight and considered less than attractive at the time, I set my sights high. I was always attracted to and pursued the most beautiful girls in school, the girls who very much liked the athletic, fit, good-looking guy that I didn’t seem to be.

On the surface, this would seem to be fools folly, yet years later I came to understand pursuing women that would reject me was subconsciously driven, like many of my self-sabotaging behaviors, in order to prove to myself what I really believed: I simply wasn’t good enough.

Throughout high school, I never had a girlfriend and had a very limited social life. Friday nights and weekends were spent mostly at the local movie theater with the less than “in” crowd. I knew my weight was the primary issue that kept me from getting the girls I thought I wanted and living the “popular life.”

Throughout those teenage years, I went on many diets and fitness programs in an attempt to solve my weight problem. Sometimes I had success and sometimes I didn’t. No matter how much weight I lost, my social status and the way I felt about myself in the long run never really changed. Inevitably, I always regained the weight.

All of this began to shift and change shortly after high school. An auto accident when I was younger left me with sudden back pain at 18 that led to almost complete paralysis from the waist down in a very short period of time. Surgery was the only answer. After a major operation to repair my back, I began the process of learning to walk again. I knew it was time for significant change in my life, and as I prepared to move to college, I decided on a new career path that I believed would simultaneously take care of my three major issues. I decided the best way to fix my weight issues, lack of social success with women and the “in” crowd, as well as begin to repair my flagging self-esteem was to become a certified personal trainer. Besides, what else could you do to financially put yourself through college that also seemed to have so many great perks?

I trained hard and I worked hard and soon had my fitness credentials. While I didn’t have the body I wanted, I lost the vast majority of the weight and was a good solid average. What I lacked in that beach body physique, I made up through hard work and great people skills. From the beginning, I understood the weight loss struggles of the masses and created fitness programs that strongly resonated with the hopes and dreams and deepest fears of those who had grown up overweight.

At the age of 22, starting with only $300 left from a student loan, I built one of the largest personal training businesses in the state of Florida. I had three locations in Tallahassee, multiple trainers, and a dream to take over the fitness world. Yet I still struggled with my own weight.

I believed I was helping people to recover from how I used to be, but the truth was that I was barely treading water myself while I tried to throw them a life raft. I was a walking encyclopedia of fitness knowledge and had more than six certifications, including Medical Exercise Specialist, the highest level of certification available in the industry at the time.

Yet all of this knowledge didn’t truly change me or make it easier for me to do the “right” things. I still loved to eat, I still used food to make me feel better, my own workouts were far and few between, and my nights were still spent alone. I had changed my outside, but I had not changed my inside.

Despite frequent and large fluctuations in my own weight, my clientele continued to grow. Only later would I realize that by training with me they didn’t feel the judgment and pressure they put on themselves with other trainers whose bodies reflected the fitness stereotype. My own body was enabling them to justify their slower progress. Some were experiencing weight loss success while training with me, while others struggled to move the scale despite my best efforts and complete dedication to their success.

Even at this point, early in my career, the therapist that I was to become began to notice the differences between those who succeeded and those who didn’t. The ones who either experienced no weight loss at all, or quickly regained the lost weight after stopping their training, needed something more than what personal training and a good nutrition program could provide. I wanted to give “that” to them, whatever “it” was. I also wanted to give it to myself.

I was 14 when I first read Unlimited Power by Anthony Robbins. I was captivated by the idea that the vast majority of people were only using a fraction of their available mental power and that there were proven methods to tap into more of our potential. I was entranced by the thought of what was possible by learning to apply the techniques in the book.

Much of Anthony’s work was founded on the principles of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a way of learning to structure your thoughts and internal processes to change your inner experiences and outer results. Many years later I would train with Richard Bandler, the co-founder/creator and driving force behind the development of NLP. When I realized my clients needed more than fitness training and nutrition coaching to be successful, I decided that renewing my study of NLP and learning hypnosis would be my first steps to finding new solutions for my clients’ old problems. Hopefully I would get the answers for me as well.

I dedicated myself to learning everything there was to know about how to transform and change at the very deepest level of one’s being. I knew that long-term success depended not only on a person losing weight and being fit, but also on feeling fit or thin or attractive or whatever it was that was important to them. They needed to be “it,” not simply pursue “it” with the goal of having “it.” As long as it was something they were chasing, it was something outside of themselves that they would never catch.

I was determined to learn all that I needed to know to create programs that would help clients overcome their weight issues by overcoming the limiting beliefs that trapped them in their overweight bodies. These new protocols were unheard of in the industry and would launch my career to new heights while finally giving me the tools to truly help people in a lasting way. Fate, or my subconscious as I have learned to call it, had different plans for my immediate future.

In December 1997, my father was unexpectedly diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. On February 25, 1998, the greatest man I have ever known passed away and my life changed. For years I had worked 7 days a week, 12 to 16 hours a day, trying to be what in my mind was a success. While I now know much of that was driven by low self-esteem pushing me to prove to the world that I had value, much of it was also driven by my desire to financially provide for my parents the things they never had. With my father gone, and the insurance he left behind taking care of my mother, much of my motivation to work so hard evaporated overnight. I began to view my priorities and life very differently.

It suddenly seemed to matter far less how many locations my personal training business had or how much money I was making or was going to make in the future as we franchised our fitness studios. The number of hours I was working seemed absurd in relationship to the cost of living the life of loneliness that had become my home.

While not realizing it before, after my father’s death it became apparent that he was who held our family together. That year, I spent my first Thanksgiving alone without family. I felt empty and abandoned, alone in my townhouse eating Thanksgiving dinner in the form of a burrito from the local gas station. I had hit emotional rock bottom and my weight began to balloon up and out of control.

Finding someone to spend my life with now, instead of in the future after attaining the financial success to be able to provide for a family, became my number one goal.

I can’t say that I consciously changed much in my life; the only noticeable outward difference was my complete lack of enthusiasm for work. Yet my heartache and the loneliness I felt must have reached out in a way it hadn’t before. Within six months, I met the girl who I believed had walked into my life straight from my dreams. Between my loneliness and the amazement that for the first time a woman this intelligent, funny, and beautiful actually wanted me, I fell in love quickly. She had just left a long-term relationship and her recent breakup fueled her need to ease her own loneliness and feelings of abandonment as well. The relationship progressed very quickly.

What I thought would be a fairytale turned out to more closely resemble a Wikipedia article on the effects of low self-esteem on a relationship. Both of us brought our own baggage, but for me, this relationship seemed to prove what I had always feared about myself. I was second best, not good enough, unlovable, and in some unchangeably innate way—flawed.

I know now this had far less to do with her or any actual events that took place in the relationship, and everything to do with the subconscious beliefs I had about myself. By the time the relationship ended, I weighed almost 300 pounds and my inattention, lack of enthusiasm, and the constant emotional upheaval of my relationship had led to the demise of my business as well.

To make matters worse, my extreme weight gain had put too much pressure on my back and within a month of our breakup I couldn’t walk again and needed another back surgery to avoid paralysis. Having lost everything, my mother came and collected me from the city where only a couple of years earlier I had been such a success, a fixture in the community, constantly appearing on local radio and TV espousing the virtue of fitness and good nutrition, and took me and my shattered body home for another surgery and to heal. I was determined that I would come back stronger than before.

Almost a year to the day that I left, barely able to walk and weighing over 300 pounds, I returned with the body I had spent a lifetime trying to achieve. To this day my friends laugh about it. I drove into town a seemingly changed man. I was lean, muscular, energetic, and somehow racing stripes had found their way onto my convertible Mustang. With the help of my hairstylist friend, my hair had gone from dark brown to blonde. I thought I had done it. I thought I was cool. I had conquered my body demons and this was going to be my time to shine!

It wasn’t my time to shine. Within six months, I gained 50 pounds, and over the next couple of years I added another 50. Intermixed with the weight loss roller coaster were ups and downs in relationships too numerous to mention. Some were good, others were bad, and none of them filled my void the way food did. It would take another 10 years of hard life lessons and dedicating myself to understanding the psychological, behavioral, and motivational reasons behind my chronic inability to lose weight before I ever saw that fit, muscular, lean body again.

The breaking point for me came when I had a relationship with a young woman who seemed to be my dream come true. At this point you probably realize that I thought this a lot. I had accumulated a lot of education and many credentials over the years and was a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Hypnotherapy instructor at the time I met her.

I believed that I had resolved most of my own issues, and while I went into the relationship knowing she had a lot of emotional healing to do, I thought that since I was a well-respected healing professional, I could provide her with the resources to heal and referrals to other therapists while encouraging her through the process. This was wishful thinking, and I now know it was a reflection of my unhealed and subconscious need to feel better about myself by helping someone else. It was projection at its worst.

The next several months were undoubtedly the most miserable time of my life. Her issues were far more extreme than I had ever imagined, culminating in her diagnosis of a significant personality disorder. Her pathological lying, emotional mood swings, insecure need to criticize my body, suicide threats, and eventual infidelity resurrected demons in myself that I thought were long gone.

Finally, in an emotional night where her most recent and worst set of lies and infidelity were revealed, the relationship ended. As painful as it was, I had never felt such relief. I knew I had allowed this to happen as a result of my own deep subconscious belief that I didn’t deserve any better. I’m sure you aren’t surprised to hear that I was also fat again.

I couldn’t believe that with all of my credentials, training, background, and knowledge, that I could let someone like this into my life. I couldn’t believe I had gained weight again. I knew that whatever was inside me that was still unhealed was responsible for both, as well as every other act of self-sabotage in all other areas of my life.

This time there would be no stopping me. My life became about finding the missing pieces of the puzzle to finally heal myself and others. I would have true high self-esteem. I would love myself and not accept unloving people into my life. And yes, I would finally get the body I wanted and keep it. As countless weight loss clients I have had since that time can tell you, that is exactly what I did.

Looking back, perhaps it could not have happened any other way for me to learn these lessons to bring the Fat to Fearless® program to you now. I needed to have those ups and downs to begin to see the patterns and trends that are at the heart of life-long weight loss issues. I needed to learn firsthand that I didn’t feel bad about myself because I was overweight, but was overweight because I felt bad about myself at a deeper level, far beneath my conscious awareness. Being overweight, bad relationships, financial self-sabotage—these were all symptoms with one common cause rooted in my subconscious.

Over the 18-year journey that it took for me to achieve and keep the body I now have, I have become a successful Subconscious Behaviorist, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Hypnotherapy instructor, a Certified Master Life Coach and life coaching instructor, a licensed Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and an NLP Trainer, a Cognitive Behavioral Coach, a Certified Relationship Coach, an EFT Practitioner, an author, a radio show host and public speaker, and have been on the faculty of two institutions teaching the next generation of therapists and coaches. I learned a lot, but more importantly, I actively applied that knowledge to myself everyday. Now I am passing the baton to you.

In this book you will learn a lot about the power of the subconscious mind. You will uncover your deepest beliefs, some you may not even be aware of, and how they have affected your ability to lose weight. You will learn the way the mind works to create motivation and how not understanding that is a major factor in why very few ever reach their weight loss goals.

You will also come to understand what it takes to create long-term change instead of short-term results. You will finally find the answers to why you have struggled with weight issues most of your life. You will learn the connection those difficulties have to all areas of your life that you are dissatisfied with.

I believe my struggles were for a greater purpose: to share this book and this program with you, and to begin a new era of the way we approach the issue of losing weight. It’s not about treating symptoms but curing causes. It is not about losing weight, but about gaining life. This work, my life’s work, is what I now humbly offer to you.

It is time for you to go from Fat to Fearless®.