September 12th, 2011

The Most Inspirational Body Transformation

Thousands of people have entered our Burn the Fat Challenge body transformation contests and over the summer of 2011 more than two hundred followers of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (aka “BFFMers” or “Burners”) finished the 98-day fitness competition with stunning results.  I’ll be sharing some of their incredible stories with you here on the Burn the Fat Blog this week. But every year we run this contest, a smaller group of finishers stand out as deserving of extra-special rewards and recognition. Our panel of body transformation judges has just chosen the first of those special awards: The Most Inspirational Body Transformation Of The Year:

Here’s a recap of this special award:

Most inspirational: The contestant who has the most inspiring personal transformation, provides the most inspiration to others, overcomes the greatest obstacles and maintains the best positive attitude, while making an excellent physical body transformation.

And The Winner Is…

Everyone who starts and finishes our 98-day body transformation contest is a winner – a “Burn the Fat Hall of Famer.”

They are the determined, motivated, hard-working men and women who set a goal, say they are going to do something, and they do it.

They’re an elite group when you look at it from this perspective: Thousands of people have entered our body transformation challenges. But only about 20%-25% people actually finish our 49-day challenge and a mere 13% completed our “marathon” 98-day summer challenge, also known as the “BIG BURN!”

That means 87% of the contestants in our most recent challenge – the 98-day summer 2011 contest – dropped out.

That’s why this most inspirational award is so significant…. because THIS man was one of the few who finished:

He weighed 348 pounds on Wednesday May 25th, 2011 at the start of the challenge. To take his before and after pictures, he needed canes to help his posture for the standing-up photos.

In this mans first journal post he said,

“I’ve been saying someday I will be slim all my life. I am now 60 years old. Not too many years left for excuses. And now… I need a hip replacement. However, the doctors will not operate on me until I lose 48 pounds (he wants me at 300). So, I have tentatively set my operation date one week after this contest ends…”

He then continued in Captain Picardesque style…


98 days later, 87% of the other contestants had dropped out… Many of them – almost all of them – were 100% fully mobile and able-bodied… Many of the dropouts were half of this man’s age…

But this man FINISHED THE CHALLENGE… and posted his results:

Before: 348 pounds
After: 314 pounds

Before: waist: 60 inches
After: waist: 54 inches

In his next to last post before reporting his challenge results, he reported the news:

“The doctor has now scheduled me for hip replacement! What a way to celebrate finishing the challenge!” …

“You know, sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and can’t believe I am 61. Inside I feel like a 30-year-old. I’ve wanted to get in shape my whole life and now I am FINALLY doing it!”

That man is JOHN DEEGAN, and he is the MOST INSPIRATIONAL BFFMer of the entire 2011 Summer challenge.

John, congratulations! You’ve inspired us! You’ve inspired some of us to (joyful) tears! Best wishes with your rapid recovery and your future fitness success!


“During this challenge, I learned a lot about myself. I learned that you are never too old to make important changes to your body. Even if you are handicapped with two bad hips, two canes, with bone on bone arthritis, you can still make significant changes if you are motivated.

The key to my transformation was in a large part due to my desire to have my hips replaced. My doctor said he wouldn’t operate on me unless I reached 300 pounds. So, that became my goal. I succeeded by figuring out how to deal with my desire for nighttime snacking. I found some sugar-free gum drops and this was my treat at night. I found that the longer I was away from starchy carbs, the less I missed them.

I used to think I was at total effect in my desire to lose weight. I have tried a thousand times and never gotten this far. Whenever I was tempted to overeat, I just told myself, “John, in 61 years you have eaten almost everything. This time is for you. You have tasted everything. You are not missing a thing.”

It was difficult going to the gym. People would look at me stumbling along with my two canes and you could just read their minds: “What is HE doing in the weightlifting area?” Well, I hired a gym instructor for a few lessons to teach me how to do some weightlifting being seated. There is a TON of things that a fat, handicapped person can do. After a while, people started showing me respect for being so dedicated to my task at hand. I started going six days a week, sometimes twice a day.

One of the big things I learned is the natural deliciousness of raw food. You don’t NEED to eat sweets. There are substitutes. My biggest win was finding a diet that I could live with for the rest of my life. As time moved on, I could now taste the natural sweetness in vegetables. I started thinking, “Hey, I can live with this.” And that’s the key. Finding a solution that works everyday.

You know, I have lost six inches from my waist during this 98 day challenge. That is SIGNIFICANT. Especially for someone my age. My metabolism does not respond as someone who is younger does. I am very proud of my progress.

I found Tom’s chapter on goal setting (from Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle) was of primary importance. It made all the difference. I also employed his carb cycling technology. I know of no one with the expertise of Tom Venuto.

I feel like a winner mainly because after 61 years of life, I am still trying to get healthy and look good. Many people give up at a much earlier age. I pushed through a lot of pain, bone on bone arthritis of both hip joints, and stumbled along with two canes. If I could do this anyone can. That’s what makes me a winner and that is why I deserve to be the champion.

This is only the beginning. Just WAIT until I can move around like the rest of you!”


If you’re a member of the Burn the Fat Inner Circle, you can visit John’s summer challenge journal thread to congratulate him. If you’re not an Inner Circle member  yet, you can post your comments below and let John know what you think!

John Deegan’s Summer Challenge Thread (members area):

– Tom Venuto and The Entire Burn the Fat Challenge Team

CLICK HERE for Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM): The Official fat burning program of the Burn the Fat challenge

CLICK HERE for the Burn the Fat Inner Circle (BFFM IC): The world’s premier fat loss motivation and support community: A society of fitness achievers


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47 Responses to “The Most Inspirational Body Transformation”

  • Ant

    wow thats amazing! I have always wanted to help my parents lose weight. Very busy and stuburn people. Hats off to you

  • Ethna Parker

    All I can say is ‘WOW’. John, you are an inspiration. Congratulations on winning the 2011 Burn the Fat Challenge body transformation contest. You are a legend. No more excuses for me…you put me to shame.

  • Mary Anne

    John, your story is so inspiring! After reading it, I feel like I’ve been kind of going through the motions, and it is making me kick it up a notch or two. Congratulations on a truly awesome results. You are correct – I’ve had Tom’s BFFM book for many years, and it is the BEST tool. Thanks to your results, I’m pulling it out when I get home and digging in. I don’t know why I had left it on the shelf.

    Congratulations again. SUPER result! You should be very proud. Best of luck with the new hips!
    Mary Anne

  • Norma

    Wow!! You have done a great job John!! I know that with the newly found you, you will be able to continue and set a new goal after your hip replacement and soon you will be reaching that goal to become who you have always wanted to be. I wish you lots of wonderful milestones!!

  • Scott

    Congratulations John! Your story is very inspiring.

  • Carrie

    John, I have tears in my eyes….congratulations!!!
    Good luck with the hip replacements!

  • Dan Young


    Way to go. You truly are inspirational. Besides being the winner, you showed viewers that they too can shed weight.

    Thank you and congratulations.

  • Nissa

    Thank you for Sharing your fantastic story! I know many people who could benefit in so many ways by adopting your winning attitude. It’s never too late to make it Happen. Well done.

  • Deborah Flowers

    Congratulations! This is amazing. You should be proud of yourself! You have begun the rest of your life and your story of getting there is truly an inspiration.
    Congratulations for the present and future!

  • Rob white

    Well done John! Great results. My mum is in her 50’s has spinal stenosis, scoliosis, and a bad hip, and dare i say overweight. She is getting to the point where she feels she is fighting a losing battle and disability is inevitable. I will send her this for inspiration!

  • karina cerda (no longer mendoza!)


  • M Waddell

    Tom, I wish you would give more ideas for those of us like your winner who are older(over 50) or have a multitude of physical challenges other than our weight. I have already lost 52 lbs. just eating almost an almost no fat, high protein, high fiber diet with carbs in reasonable amounts – about 1000 cal./day. Also I walk 3+ miles 3X/wk, aerobic exercises 65 min 3x/wk, & 3 times/wk at the gym doing weights. Blood work never looked better. The problem is that the more I lose the harder it gets to lose the next lb. and pain is cetainly not an inspiration. I can’t do any more exercise and I don’t think I should be eating any less. My metabolism is just very slow. Cancer(surgery,chemo, & radiation) & multiple orthopedic problems(ankle reconstruction, 4 blown discs, osteoporosis, & broken bones) don’t seem to improve with exercise. Can you address some of the older and injured population problems for those of us who only want to lower weight, gain some strength, & improve our overall health?
    I have been reading your e-mails for some months. I think you make good sense, but we don’t all have the same goals. I would like to see your ideas in these areas.
    M. Waddell
    53, hurting, but determined

    • Tom Venuto

      M waddell, yes we dont all have the same goals, and whatever your goals are, reaching them begins with an attitude like John’s attitude. after that, remember that NUTRITION Is the most important key when you have orthopedic issues that limit your amount and intensity of exercise. I can and will continue to post more and more about that in future blogs.

    • Galina

      M Waddell,
      you are a hero already loosing 52lb while having such health challenges.
      People like you amaze me and serve as an example of courage and strength. The attempt to compain disapears very fast after reading the stories like yours.
      As to a difficulty to lose more lb – try to change the excercises every 4 weeks to challenge you body a bit more as it adapts over the time to the same excrsises and burns less. Adding the intesity helps to, like waking faster for a short periods of time while walking you 3 miles.

  • M Waddell

    OOPS! Sorry, John. I’m not good on the internet. I thought my comments would go to Tom.
    You did a fabulous job! Keep going as soon as you can after your surgery. I am really happy that you have had good success. We older guys & gals need to see others like us succeed, especially against pain. It’s so much harder for us. Congratulations again. I hope all goes well.

  • Liz

    Well done John!! You persevered and accomplished a great goal. Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey and reminding me of what it takes to reach our life goals. God bless you as you undergo your hip replacements and may you have even greater things in store for you!

  • Norbert K. Gilmore

    Bully for you John, keep up the great work. From a fellow semi senior…

  • Aiman

    keep going John, after reading your story i feel powerful…yes you deserve to be the CHAMPION…

  • Sarah

    This is truly an inspiring story. Congratulations John on winning the 2011 contest. I am forwarding your story to all of my friends and family who have no excuse to get themselves into shape now. Keep up with it and good luck with your operation. Sx

  • John,
    First, let me give you a huge hurray for your accomplishment. I am 63 and stay in good shape as I have been into weights since the late sixties. I know how difficult it is to train sometimes, since an older body feels a lot more pains than a younger one.
    That being said, you hit the nail on the head when you told yourself your never too old to start. You were brilliant in following Tom’s advice as he has the expertise and knowledge to lead you down the right path. I also have read (and reread) Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle. Carb cycling works as I can attest at 5’10”, weighing 170lbs. I adopted Tom’s techniques some time ago and now it seems like my body burns food like a furnace. I find I have to eat plenty or I lose weight. Lean muscle is a miracle and should be everyone’s goal looking to stay lean.
    Please check into my website and drop me a line to update me on your progress. I will put a post up dedicated to your achievement to serve as encouragement and inspiration to others.
    God’s blessings on your surgery and speedy recovery.
    Here’s to a leaner, healthier YOU!

  • Simon

    What a fantastic result !! Well done John and good luck with the op.

    You will be strolling down a Hawaiian beach in no time at all .


  • Madeleine Camirand

    Hi John,

    I give you ton of congratulations for your committed behaviour toward these 98 days. You deserved to win the challenge. You are a very good example for people of all age who need to keep dedicated to their goals.

    As Tom Venuto said, you are a very good illustration of his leitmotiv «Aspire to inspire before you expire».

    Good continuation !

  • Galina

    you have achieved the great results despite all obstacles and I am sure you will find the strength and motivation to push forward and continue to amaze and inspire us all. I wish you good luck with the surgery and a speedy recovery.

  • Karen

    Way to go John, with the attitude you have and a hip that works there will be no stopping you, you will be outclassing people 20 years younger than you, no in fact you already are. Congrats on your win and may it really inspire you to keep going to total fitness.

  • Joe

    Way to go John, that’s the way to hang in there. You should continue what your doing, you’ll feel even better. The photos don’t lie you,look improved congradulations to ya, keep it up.


  • Jim

    John, congratulations on your success!

    As someone who will soon turn 55, I couldn’t agree more with your statement that you’re never too old to make important changes to your body and you can still make significant changes if you’re motivated.

    Stick with your exercise and nutrition program and you’ll be amazed at what your body will look and feel like a year from now.

  • Gay Andrusyshyn

    You are truly an inspiration to us all. Especially to us old timers who think we have to accept our bodies as is because we’ve let so much time go by. Never to late to change and feel good about yourself, you showed many people that and I can here a lot of them saying, “if he can do it, I can too” Thanx for that.

  • Ann


    I am particularly inspired by your story because it almost directly parallels mine (except need for surgery as a galvanizing motivator). I am MOST inspired by your statement that you feel like a 30-yr-old. YES! I want that! Also inspiring was confirmation of a number of my beliefs, such as it is key that you find a solution that YOU can live with, or having to “figure out” various aspects like how to deal with night snacking.

    Again, congrats, and thanks for rhe inspiration! And don’t let up now!

  • My wife and I always find it hard to keep to our fitness regimine. Things like this seem to help keep you on track and motivated. We will be watching for the upcoming contests and definitely join. WOW

  • Russell

    Very impressive and a real motivation for a fairly fit 55 year old like me, who needs to take off some weight. Thank you.

    But also credit to Tom and the judges for choosing such a deserving winner. It all fits the over-riding philosophy of BTF which I liked from the start: first, there are no shortcuts, only good methods and to lose kilogram of fat needs a 7,700 Calorie deficit no matter what. Second, it’s better to exercise more than just eat less, and better to eat healthy than unhealthy. Third, unless you plan and have goals you won’t get there. This winner shows the power of these messageS: Well done !

  • ruth

    as a member of the Inner Circle, just want you to know via this site that YOU ARE OUR HERO. Can’t wait for the NEXT challenge John. You will kick it!!!

  • azizul

    Mr. Deegan, hat’s off to you!

  • Courtney Raiford

    Awesome job John!!! You can do anything you set your mind to.. Congratulation on meeting your goal of getting you hip replacement. I wish you a speedy recovery and stay strong!!


  • Tom ..this is such an inspiring and transformational blog! Great job…I love what ur doing. Posting John’s Essay and photos were perfect. Keep up the wonderful work you do.

  • I love stories like these, very motivational. Makes me want to get off the computer and get active, but then I’d miss out on these great stories.

  • John is such an inspiration, he has loss so much weight with his dedication.

  • gracepmc

    I’m getting ready to start up with BFFM after being sidetracked by all the other “glitzy” do this/do that stuff out there. But I was having trouble getting motivated. But no longer. Congratulations John. And a big thank you for the motivation.

  • claire olsen

    Hi there,

    I am so impressed!!

    I have been very sick and on a cocktail of drugs that l have been using as an excuse for being in bad shape, if you can do it, then l could to. Thank you so much, l am going to make a start to.


  • Wow! Congratulations. That is by no means an easy task. You should be very proud of your accomplishment. Keep working hard and you will drop as much weight as you want.

  • Awesome work John. The difference is immense – undoubtedly making such stellar progress helped keep you motivated. Keep at it!

  • this is such an inspiring one of the blog! Great job…I love what ur doing. Posting your Essay and photos were perfect. Keep up the wonderful work you do.

  • […] We reward the top 10 men and the top 10 women with great prizes like the new kindles, ipads, ipods, books, memberships and a lot more… plus there are special categories for the top team of 5 and for individual achievements like best transformation after age 50, most ripped and most inspirational. […]

  • Ed


    I can only say that a man with a goal in mind who pursues it everyday is the strongest one around. You have inspired me. Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers from Spain!

  • Deborah

    What an incredible story. This is my first challenge and I am thoroughly enjoying it, but most of all I am enjoying the encouraging stories from others. Some are fitness superstars, some have had life deal them tough blows, but you, wow! I can see why you won most inspirational. Keep up the great work and I hope to read more about your progress.

  • Tom,
    Great article. Particularly like the bit about overtraining. Yes, it happens, but usually not to the people that are most concerned about it!
    Keep it up!

  • Hi John:
    Have you tried loosing weight on an elliptical trainer? You can burn around 500 calories in half an hour with this no-impact machine. They are more popular than treadmills these days.

  • Skye Richards

    That is so inspiring John! Hey, I became 50 years lately–WOW–that’s not funny–I’LL GO EVEN FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET LIKE YOU, HOWEVER.

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