I had just opened up my new personal training center (The Fitness Nut House) in Kennebunk, Maine and little did I know that I would have the opportunity to be apart of something amazing. I remember it like it was yesterday.I was in my gym by myself doing some paper work, when all of sudden the front door opens and in comes a young man who was not in good health. To be honest I was a bit taken back by his appearance. He was so skinny and emaciated that I thought he was in stage four cancer. Accompanying him were his parents. Not knowing what the circumstance was we greeted and sat down to discuss the situation.
His parents were rather distraught, and I could tell that they were deeply worried about their son. They asked me about my education and background and if there was anything that I could for their son. As I was listening to the mother I couldn’t help but notice the condition of the young man. He was 19 years old and was in terrible shape, his skin was yellow, eyes sunken in, losing hair, flaccid, gaunt, and had very little energy. His clothes were draping off of him. Both parents stated to me that they have tried everything and have seen many doctors and counselors, but no one could seem to help. They told me that their son was diagnosed as suffering from Anorexia Nervosa. They decided to come and see me to see if I could do anything. Tears filled up in the eyes of the parents and I too was emotionally feeling their pain. It was a heavy moment and one I will never forget as long as I live. This couple was putting all of their trust in me to try and save their son.
Up to that point I had worked with hundreds of people designing exercise programs, nutrition plans and rehabilitation programs. I had the opportunity to work at the U.S. Olympic Training Center as a strength coach for Olympic hopefuls. But nothing was as important to me as that moment in my career. Though I only met him for a short while I really felt compassion for the young man. I didn’t want the parents to know at that time, but professionally I knew their son was in serious health trouble.
When I looked into his eyes I could see a confused, scared, boy who just needed some guidance. We began working together and hit it off pretty well. He began to trust me more and more. However, he still wouldn’t let go of his old habits. The pivotal point came when he had his blood work done and brought the results into me to see. I was shocked at what I saw. According to the report his liver enzymes were off the charts which meant his liver was shutting down. I told him that if he continues on the path that he is currently on that he would most likely be dead in six months. Up to this point he was following my suggestions about exercise, but not so much with nutrition. Once I told him the severity of the situation, I believe that is when it finally hit home to him. He really wanted to live and to get healthy.
Before we met, he was being treated by doctors and clinicians who didn’t know much about proper nutrition and exercise prescription. They thought that exercise was damaging to him and they wanted to him eat tons of ” empty calories” to gain weight. But every time they tried to force food into to him, he refused. So they diagnosed him as being anorexic. But in all actuality he didn’t want to eat cake, and junk food to gain weight. I couldn’t blame him; I wouldn’t eat that stuff either. He just wanted true sensible nutrition advice, not hype.
As the months passed by he began to improve. With the proper combination of exercise and nutrition he was out of the danger zone. The thing that I admired was his ability to trust me. I looked at him more as a friend than a client. I really cared for this young man and truly wanted to see him succeed. I ended up having him work for me to keep him in a positive atmosphere. He was well liked among the other members and he was a great employee. He worked for me on the weekends and vacations when he was going to college. He was so inspired by the new changes in his health and new knowledge of nutrition and exercise that he changed from a business major to an exercise science major. After enrolling in the exercise science program he propelled into his academics and graduated with honors. He went onto graduate school and graduated with a Master’s degree in Kinesiology/ Exercise Science.
He became a national power lifting champion. I remember when he couldn’t lift more than 12 pound dumbbells and now he can deadlift over 650 pounds. Currently, he owns his own strength and conditioning business in Hudson, Mass. His knowledge in strength and conditioning is ranked among the best in the country. He specializes in baseball conditioning and has worked with many well known athletes. His story is truly remarkeable. I am proud to have had the chance to work with him and help him get healthy.
His name is Eric Cressey and he is an inspiration to us all.
“Daryl Conant was an outstanding mentor to me not only in getting my career in strength and conditioning started, but in getting my body and mind in the right place when I had exhausted pretty much all my other options for doing so. His experience, passion, education, and insatiable desire to help others makes him an outstanding resource to me to this day. “
— Eric Cressey, 2011
Here is a link to read more about his story.
tags: daryl conant, eric cressey, cressey performance, the fitness nut house.