Brian Flemming admits he was morbidly obese, addicted to vodka and extremely depressed. But a stranger, living across the ocean, saved his life.
"By the time I graduated high school, I was probably around 400 pounds, maybe a little over. Once I got into college, after that it just went up and up,” Flemming said.
The Canton Township man said at one point he tipped the scales at 625 pounds and drank a fifth of vodka, mixed with a liter of soda, every night.
"I was consuming about 7,500 calories per day. This was all the junk food. I was eating, plus probably about 2,000 calories of sugar with all the pop and alcohol,” he said.
Addicted to fast food, Flemming said he dropped out of college and eventually lost his job.
“I was a bit of a shut in, and I wasn't going anywhere with my life,” he said.
He hid in his parents’ basement, continuing to eat, watch TV and play video games for several hours a day.
“I could barely make it up a flight of stairs. You know, I had no exercise. I was just going day to day perpetuating that cycle,” he said.
But one night, while playing a video game, he met a woman living in London, Jackie Eastham.
"We started playing and started to get to know each other and started chatting, and we got to know each other,” Flemming said.
It didn’t take long for the two to develop a friendship.
"I told her everything about me and what I was going through. One day, I spilled everything. I told her I was depressed and how big I was and all the problems I had,” Flemming said.
"Instead of sympathy from her, she got angry with me. She basically yelled at me and said, ‘Why are you throwing your life away?’ Flemming said.
“The next day, I quit drinking cold turkey. I started to eat healthy a few days after that, and I gradually started changing things in my diet,” Flemming said.
It worked. Flemming lost more than 390 pounds in roughly a year and a half. Now, he’s running 10Ks almost every weekend.
Flemming and Eastham met for the first time in December. They climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
“It was very simple for me that I could just help, that he could help himself, and I could help him through it and it just worked,” Eastham said. “I also said if we had lived down the road from each other, we probably wouldn’t have a positive effect on each other in this way."
Flemming has started giving motivational speeches at schools and other events around the county. He’s also keeping in close communication with Eastham, who has myotonic dystrophy.
The two are working together to raise awareness for the condition. You can visit their Facebook page here.
Flemming is also working to raise money for surgery that will help with the excess skin he has from the massive weight loss. He has a GoFundMe.com page here.