Dan Hibbert: Getting through grief.
Early in their marriage, Dan Hibbert’s wife, Susan, inspired him to take better care of himself and prioritize health and fitness. Later, after tragedy struck, Dan had to get through his grief and find the strength to stay the course for the most important reason of all: his kids.
One day, in the late 1990s, Dan Hibbert’s wife, Susan, took him aside.
Dan had been overeating, turning to food for comfort during times of stress, and he was negIecting his health. Worried for his well-being, Susan encouraged him to make some changes.
“I was probably 40 or 50 pounds overweight at that point,” Dan, of Calgary, Canada, remembers.
“My wife, bless her heart, sat me down and said, ‘I’m concerned about you and I want you to be healthy.’ And that was great. It gave me a great kick in the backside, and I did get rid of all that weight, and maintained the weight loss for quite some time.”
Then, in 2011, something terrible happened.
Susan was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. After multiple surgeries and extensive chemotherapy, she entered a major depression due to sleep problems and anxiety.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, in August of 2012 Susan took her own life. It was unexpected and traumatic for Dan and their five children.
After losing Susan, 40-year-old Dan knew it was going to be challenging not only to work through his own grief, but also to take care of their five kids, dog, and the family business. But he made a decision.
“The minute I knew that the suicide had happened in our family, I felt it was my mission in life to take care of our kids.”
“I didn’t want this to define them in a negative way. I had to be there for them,” Dan says.
Dan did what he needed to do to help himself and the family cope. One of his best outlets was exercise, particularly CrossFit.
But after a couple years, Dan’s old patterns of emotional eating returned.
Once again, Dan turned to food for comfort.
He found himself reaching for a beer or glass of wine each night. And social situations became excuses to overeat. After a while, he could feel his weight creeping up.
“When you have to track off to buy new jeans, it’s like, ‘Okay. Problem,’” he laughs.
Joking aside, Dan took his weight gain seriously. He knew the importance of taking care of his own mental and physical health.
When Dan saw the scale moving into the 220s, he had a “moment of truth.”
Dan thought about his kids and his personal mission to support them. “I thought, ‘If I keep going down this road, I’m not going to be a good dad.’”
And he thought about Susan. “If she would have been here, she would have intervened,” says Dan.
“But, she wasn’t. So it was one of these moments where it’s like, ‘Well, I gotta step up and do this on my own, I guess. For my kids. And for myself, too.’”
Dan considered his options. He could do a six-week transformation challenge of some kind, but then the results wouldn’t last. Besides, he knew he needed some support and accountability.
He’d been following Dr. John Berardi and Precision Nutrition for some time, so he took the plunge and signed up for Precision Nutrition Coaching.
With PN, Dan was able to reset his old patterns of comfort eating, and practice new, healthier strategies.
“The program vastly expanded my toolkit of knowing what to do, and the practical ability to do it,” he explains.
Dan was committed and consistent with the program from the get-go. He found the daily check-ins and the ability to track his progress immensely helpful.
“If there’s numbers, I do well,” Dan says. “Give me a set of numbers and tell me to get from A to B, and I’m going to work hard to do it.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
Of course, we all need a little extra support sometimes, and Dan was no exception.
After a few months of steady weight loss, he found himself at a plateau, and reached out to his PN coach, Calvin, who provided some simple “suggestions and tweaks” to help Dan keep moving forward.
Then, toward the end of the PN Coaching program, Dan broke his wrist during a CrossFit class. Despite this extra challenge, Dan managed to stay consistent with his habits.
Once again, the combination of daily accountability, support from Coach Calvin, and the ability to track his progress helped Dan stay the course.
The results of that commitment? Dan lost 30 pounds, and gained lifestyle strategies to keep himself healthy and fit — inside and out.
“I appreciate the change the program made for me in appearance, and more importantly, my overall mindset.”
When Dan looks back, he’s glad he course-corrected in order to stay true to his mission of taking care of his kids.
“You do need to stop and take inventory once in a while,” he reflects. “Have those conversations with yourself about the general trends of things in your life.
“Whether it be weight, or mental health, or your habits… take some time to confront those things, and search for help with them.”
He adds, “and if there is coaching help available, make use of it. Coaching is such an asset.”
Today, Dan’s kids are all thriving, and he even has a new member of the family: his first grandchild.
Of course, coaching can’t magically eradicate grief. Change takes time, and so does healing.
“I’ve learned there are certain things that you have to allow time to get through, and you can’t exactly hurry them up,” Dan acknowledges. “But, with that said, there are things that you can do that will help.”
“The main thing to remember,” says Dan, “it’s that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
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