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It’s almost as if fate gifted Colin Strong with his name. After spending an hour on the phone with the 24-year-old college student, I can’t help but shake the notion that his last name is made up. Like Tom Cruise or Nicolas Cage – something flashy and…perfect. But there are no parlor tricks here, there’s no court document signaling that he changed his last name as a way to encourage others to stay strong – Colin Strong was born and embodies his namesake with every effort.
His story began like so many people who struggled with weight issues in their life. Colin has no difficulty admitting he did irreversible damage to his body by filling it with processed foods and not knowing a thing about nutrition. Colin is that rare gem who shines when he takes responsibility for matters that may or may not be in his control, “The one thing that bothered me in high school is the way my body developed overall. On my chest I have glandular tissue or breast tissue called gynecomastia. It’s not fat, it’s not excess skin – the only way to get rid of it is to have it surgically removed.” Where most people would shy away from such a topic, Colin embraces it, “One question I keep asking myself is would my breast tissue have developed if I ate a very clean and health-oriented diet instead of processed food and junk food? I’ll never know at this point, the only thing I can do is continue to eat healthy because I can see the change that has occurred.”
If you looked at Colin’s before and after pictures you’d be hard-pressed to believe the guy ever struggled with his weight. High school, however, was never kind to Colin, “People, my own friends, even, would joke with me and call me names. They’d come up and ‘scoop the nipple’ or ‘flip my tit.’ That’s what they called it and they thought it was so funny.” Colin wasn’t laughing, though. But to his credit, he wasn’t letting it define his destiny, either. “I can’t do anything about the tissue that’s already there.” An encounter with John Glaude helped Colin solidify how he would approach his weight and breast tissue problems, “John helped me realize that I should be transparent. I need to be honest with people and I’m going to build my self-confidence based on my insecurities and self-conscious issues.”
That’s why his blog, which began as a simple assignment for school, has grown into an outlet for his incredible drive to motivate and inspire others. It’s is not only a chronicle of Colin’s amazing body transformation, but also a beacon for inspirational anecdotes about his struggles and why he refuses to see himself as a hero or villain.
After high school Colin decided to make a change in his life. He weighed in at 250 pounds at his heaviest before going out on a mission for his church. During that expedition, Colin wanted to turn heads upon his return. He set a goal to lose weight during his four month mission and lose weight he did – but not in a lasting way, “I just ate a lot less calories and kind of starved myself a little bit in the morning. I wouldn’t eat quality things – I didn’t have an understanding of or an interest to eat healthy. It wasn’t until I actually started seeing some results that I invested time in learning what calories are or what makes up good food and bad food.”
After his first mission Colin understood that it was possible to lose weight, but not how to make it a lifestyle. It wasn’t until his second mission a year and a half later that he set a goal to hit 177, his middle school weight. “I think it took time because I wasn’t happy or satisfied with where I was. I got down to 218 pounds when I came home after the first mission. It was very real to me that I had to eat healthy and make changes if I wanted to see the results I desired.”
Colin was leaner, healthier and more energetic but still unsatisfied with the look of his body. It was setting a daily routine that set him on the path to success. “I said to myself, you know what I’m going to wake up earlier than normal because a half hour of exercise just isn’t going to do it. I got a rush and huge feeling of accomplishment from sweating. I decided what I was going to eat. I made a little book called ‘five ingredients or less’ and those were the only meals I ate.”
Colin vividly remembers his turning point, “The biggest takeaway from seeing results is simply patience. Until you learn what patience means your mind and your body won’t sync up. You won’t get the results you want without a positive attitude. A lot of people will get down. That two week period of difficulty everyone faces at the start shouldn’t ever exist. People should look at it as day one, day two, etc. They need to go in knowing that day one is the day you start something that will change the rest of your life.”
Colin has turned his transformation into a career – while he’s still a college student, he also holds down a job at the BYU fitness center. It’s a rewarding experience that affords him the opportunity to stealthily uplift and inspire – even if the sun isn’t up yet, “I get up at 3:40am and when I open the gym at 5 I like to go out of my way to say something to the heavier individuals because they have no idea that I used to be like them. I let them know it makes me so happy to see them at the gym. Even if they don’t know me I just want them to know that. I have a lot more definition than I did before, but the reactions I get when I tell them that I used to be big are incredible. I’ve built a rapport with them, so each time I see them I always let them know how good it is to see them again. I’m always building people up, all the time.”
That’s the most amazing thing about Colin is that he genuinely wants to share his outlook on life with the world. Just as an example of this, he was a finalist in the running for the Joy Remetta Super Fan Award – an annual award from Quest where the winner receives a lifetime supply of Quest Bars for embodying the will and spirit of the Quest Mindset. Colin was leading in the online vote count, but ultimately lost out on the grand prize. Instead, he reached out to Quest customer support and one of our reps, Karagan, informed him about the Quest Ambassador program “Quest Squad.” “I told myself that 40 years’ worth of Quest Bars would have been cool, but when it comes down to it I’m pretty darn happy that I even got the chance to be a member of Quest Squad. Overall I value relationships more than anything else. It’s a great opportunity to influence and help others make healthier choices.”
That doesn’t mean that Colin doesn’t have a not-so-secret love for a certain flavor of Quest Bar, “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough was the first one I tried and has become one of my ultimate favorites. Sometimes I think of Quest Bars as being a cheat snack because they taste exactly like the real thing. I love warming it up in the microwave for a few seconds for a warm cookie dough experience.”
Colin ended our chat by letting me know that he’s actually glad he didn’t win the Super Fan contest, “One of those five finalists deserves that position and they need that in their lives more than me. Other opportunities will come along, and lo and behold, I’m a member of Quest Squad and now I’m doing this interview.” It’s Colin’s goal to bring self-worth to other people. He’s currently finishing up his final year at BYU and hopes to one day work at Quest, “I would like to be in a position where I could influence others – whether that’s the younger generation to become greater than I ever was or whether that’s coworkers or individuals I see on a daily basis. I want to impart self-worth to others and help them develop the skills they need to succeed in life.” I recommend you keep up with Colin’s exploits on his blog, I Am Colin Strong, it’s insightful, motivational and shining example of what’s possible when you don’t give up on your goals.
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