FITNESS TRANSFORMATION: SAMUEL HIGGINS
AT AGE 19 SAMUEL HIGGINS WEIGHED IN AT 130KG. THROUGH GRADUAL DIET CHANGES AND INCREASED EXERCISE, HE’S NOW AT 80KG. NOT A BAD ACHIEVEMENT FOR A 22-YEAR-OLD!
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?
“I’M BETTER THAN THIS.” SAM BECAME DETERMINED TO CHANGE HIS LIFE – STARTING WITH HIS WEIGHT. SAM BEFORE AND AFTER.