Parksville man who lost 260 pounds says it’s not just about the weight
Parksville's Andrew McLane has become a media darling since he dropped 260 pounds in just one year.
In March 2012, The NEWS first told McLane's story and a myriad of other media outlets were quick to follow, including The Province, CTV, Shaw, CHEK News and most recently he made the cover of Reader's Digest's January edition.
And now two years later, The NEWS sat down with McLane to follow up on the trials and tribulations that come along with a drastic bodily change — keeping the weight off and dealing with being perceived quite differently by society.
McLane admits that while most of the coverage about his weight loss puts a positive spin on his story, there are overwhelming struggles and difficulties that come along with rapid weight loss and physical transformation.
"People think that once you lose weight life is easy," said McLane. "Life is certainly better, but now I'm trying to figure out who I am and I'm not even remotely close to figuring that out."
Though McLane said a lot of people think his weight loss came with a rebranded ego, he "actually (has) very low confidence and self-esteem."
McLane said he often struggles with residual insecurities from his "heavy days."
"It's a tough life to live when you can't fit on airplanes, when you don't know if you'll fit into restaurant booths or if a chair is going to hold you every time you sit down," he said. "There's a lot of anxiety when you're that heavy."
At his peak weight, McLane said he was 460 pounds.
He refers to that version of himself as "big Andrew" speaking about him in third person, as if to distance himself from another lifetime.
And while it seems like McLane now brims with an air of self assurance while dressed sharply in a fitted suit sitting comfortably in his immaculate Qualicum Beach office, the 28-year-old said he deals with "body image issues" on a daily basis.
The scars left on McLane's body from two skin tightening surgeries provide a constant reminder of "big Andrew."
"For at least the first six months (after losing the weight) I would look in the mirror and look at old pictures of myself and I wasn't really sure who I was supposed to be," he said, adding that the way the general public receives him is like night and day, being treated differently by most people, even some he was close with.
When asked how women treat McLane now that he's a lean 200 pounds, he pauses for a moment and for the first time seems thrown off by a question about his story.
He blushes, and with a boyish charm and bit of embarrassment replies: "the first time you get hit on by a pretty girl is an interesting thing — you almost think she's kidding."
McLane said some people who didn't have the time of day for him before he lost the weight are now eager to be his friend.
However, he said there are people such as his wife Dani — who he credits with inspiring and supporting him through the entire weight loss process — as well as his personal trainer Beth Alden who have been there through thick and thin, literally.
"Those are the types of people that I want in my life," he said. "I understand that fitness is an attractive quality because it means you care about yourself and you can care about others, but people often don't realize weight gain can be a product of food addiction or trying to fill a void. People just assume heavy people are lazy."
McLane said he started seeing Alden twice a week for personal training sessions — she believes in high impact interval training and eating well so she designed a regime fitted for McLane and even went grocery shopping with her client and soon-to-be lifelong friend.
Twelve months and a lot of hard work and discipline later, McLane was less than half his previous size.
McLane said he is thankful for all the community support and media attention as both have helped keep him in check. "I guess my biggest thing now is trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my new lease on life," he said.