DNA Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The smart way an over­weight, un­healthy teen be­came a sort-af­ter pho­to­graphic model.

DNA: How did you be­come such a big child? Sa­muel Hig­gins: I grew up in a small town called De­niliquin in New South Wales. I guess in a small town you know ev­ery­one and ev­ery­one knows you and you don’t have that much pres­sure on your ap­pear­ance. You aren’t try­ing to im­press any­one. It was in my teenage years that I grew very big, very quickly. It was a mix­ture of things: be­ing lazy, pro­vid­ing food for my­self as my mum worked a lot of shift work (be­ing a teen, I al­ways went for McDon­ald’s), a lot of al­co­hol, and a real dis­like of ex­er­cise.

Was there a defin­ing mo­ment that made you want to change?

I moved to Mel­bourne when I was 19. It got to the point where I be­come too anx­ious, and felt too much shame, to leave my apart­ment. I wouldn’t leave the apart­ment by my­self, only with some­one else. Ev­ery­one was skinny and pretty and I felt ter­ri­ble about my­self. Not long af­ter mov­ing to Mel­bourne, I had to move back to my small home town. This is when I was di­ag­nosed with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety and I re­alised that this was not the sort of life I wanted to live. I knew that I was bet­ter than that, and I wanted to prove to my­self that I could chal­lenge and over­come any­thing – start­ing with my weight.

What did you do?

I started off re­ally sim­ply. I walked for 30 min­utes a day. I slowly changed my diet. I would change potato to sweet potato, then a cou­ple of days later I would change white rice to brown rice. Ev­ery time I switched to an al­ter­na­tive my diet would con­tinue to get bet­ter and bet­ter. Af­ter that I could start work­ing out for an hour a day. I added in a jog or some light weight train­ing, or even just sport in gen­eral.

Did any­one help you make these changes?

I just started do­ing it my­self with my gen­eral knowl­edge, trial and er­ror, look­ing at web­sites and dis­cus­sions with peo­ple. I knew the right things to do. I think we all re­ally know, it’s just hard mo­ti­vat­ing our­selves. A lot of peo­ple told me what they do to keep fit and I thought, maybe I should give that a try for a bit. That said, when I wanted to

start build­ing mus­cle I looked at the ma­chines in the gym and thought, “What the hell do you do with that?” So I en­listed the help of a PT for six months to help me get started. We worked on com­pound move­ments and ba­sic prin­ci­ples – learn­ing the proper tech­niques has made work­ing out easy. What were the chal­lenges of that process?

The big­gest chal­lenge was my mind set. When you’ve been big­ger your whole life it’s hard to en­vis­age your goal. I did not know what I even looked like un­der all that weight, so how could I know what my end goal was? I was chang­ing all these foods and pro­gress­ing in my ex­er­cise, but it was hard to stay mo­ti­vated be­cause I did not know how I would ap­pear or how much weight I could even lose. I just knew I wanted to con­tinue do­ing any­thing to feel healthy and happy.

Did your sex­u­al­ity have ef­fect on how you per­ceived your­self?

Yes, it was hard to stay pos­i­tive about my ap­pear­ance in a world full of Grindr and body sham­ing. Weight loss isn’t very sexy when you’re try­ing to date. It can be tricky.

Is main­tain­ing the weight loss a strug­gle?

Not at all. The con­fi­dence, hap­pi­ness and be­ing so proud of my achieve­ment has made me want to con­tin­u­ally im­prove my ap­pear­ance and my fit­ness. Af­ter I got to the 10 to 15kg weight loss mark a lot of peo­ple start telling me how much bet­ter I looked, how much hap­pier I seemed, and how it had mo­ti­vated them to try and lose weight, too. So, by then, when I was used to eat­ing well and ex­er­cis­ing, I be­came de­ter­mined to show oth­ers how easy it can be when you get over the first few hur­dles. It pushed me, and still pushes me to this day.

How do you feel about pho­tog­ra­phers ask­ing to shoot you now?

It’s def­i­nitely a weird feel­ing! It’s some­thing I never thought I would ever get asked, but I have re­ally loved do­ing it. I was asked to do a shoot a few weeks ago where the pho­tog­ra­pher wanted me to wear a jock­strap. I was so ner­vous. Even though he con­tin­u­ally re­as­sured me that I looked in­cred­i­ble, I kept say­ing, are you sure I look okay?

Has the phys­i­cal change brought emo­tional and in­tel­lec­tual changes?

It’s hard to de­scribe the emo­tional and in­tel­lec­tual changes that you ex­pe­ri­ence, but it has al­lowed me to chal­lenge my­self and makes me ready to try any­thing. I now feel like I can do any­thing I set my mind to. It’s been re­ward­ing in that I’ve over­come my de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety, and it’s changed my ca­reer path – I’m now fo­cus­ing on my stud­ies in Per­sonal Train­ing. I’m open­ing my­self up to shar­ing my story, in the hope that I can help mo­ti­vate oth­ers to make pos­i­tives im­prove­ments in their health, too.

Do you like the per­son you found un­der the weight?

This is a re­ally hard ques­tion to an­swer. Af­ter such a large weight loss, the big­gest is­sue is im­pli­ca­tions with loose skin and stretch marks. It’s ex­tremely hard to deal with these af­ter work­ing so hard to achieve a great toned body, but that’s why I’ve started mod­el­ling. I want to show peo­ple how strong, fit and beau­ti­ful you can be even if you some­times don’t think so your­self. I’ve al­ways loved DNA mag­a­zine and read the news­let­ter and looked at the photos and thought, “Imag­ine look­ing like these guys and be­ing featured in a mag­a­zine like this.” Now, in my own small way, I’ve ac­com­plished that and it’s the best feel­ing. I’m proud of my achieve­ments and ex­cited for what’s to come. It re­ally was the best thing I’ve done for my­self and I want to in­spire oth­ers. But, be­ing proud and goal-driven doesn’t mean you re­ally love who you are. I’m still learn­ing to love my­self for who I am and let­ting go of the per­son I used to be. One day I’m sure I’ll be able to an­swer this ques­tion with an ab­so­lute yes, but I’d be ly­ing if I said it now.

I didn’t even know what I looked like un­der all that weight, so how could I en­vis­age what my end goal was?


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