Online friendship motivates man to drop almost 400 pounds, help others

Online friendship motivates man to drop almost 400 pounds, help others

A 30 year old man found unexpected inspiration and motivation to stop drinking and lose hundreds of pounds from a woman he met online with the Pictionary-like mobile game called “Draw Something.”

He was 30 years old, drinking heavily, and tipping the scales at 625 pounds. He was pre-diabetic, suffering from a stubborn cellulitis infection, and watching too much television. Life was on a rapid, downward spiral for Brian Flemming, and that is when a mobile app and an optimistic online acquaintance began to change everything. That is when Brian Flemming met Jackie Eastham via Draw Something.

A Pictionary-like game for mobile devices, Draw Something randomly connected the two and sowed the seeds of a very important international friendship based on Flemming’s complete and transparent honesty about himself and Eastham’s honesty about what she thought of it. Eastham, who resides in the U.K., had compassion but little sympathy.

“She said there were people struggling for their lives and then there’s you — you have all these opportunities and you’re throwing it all away,” said Flemming, 32, currently a business relations representative and part-time music teacher in Canton, Michigan.

Eastham knows about struggle. She suffers from mytonic dystrophy, a congenital form of muscular dystrophy that progressively leads to muscle weakness and organ complications. While her symptoms are still mild, she counts each day a blessing.

“I just thought bloody hell, you’re a guy who’s 30 … and you’re wasting your life,” she said, remembering how she felt as the recipient of his drunken, self-pittying messages. “My future is a lot gloomier. I’m trying to make the brightest future I can, and … you’re dragging yourself down.”

Something stirred in Flemming on that October day of 2012. He quit drinking and over the next two years, the 6 foot 2 inch tall Flemming shed 380 pounds. It was not easy.

The first few days of not drinking were fraught with cold sweats, shaky hands, and insomnia. Flemming kept himself busy and relied on daily chats with Eastham to pull him through. The weight came off quickly with no more drinking, as calories from alcohol were no longer coming in. Flemming lost 100 pounds in only two months. He began to modify his diet by shunning fast food and shifting toward lean protein and low sugar foods.

Flemming slowly added physical activity into his daily regimen, eventually building up to running 5-kilometer races. Today he is maintaining at 234 pounds and wants to help others lose weight.

“Brian is so inspiring,” Eastham said. “I hope he gets what he wants out of life.”

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