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A couple in Minneapolis is sharing the inspiring story of their combined weight loss journey and how their “mutual, unconditional love” has helped them work toward their goals.
Dan, 53, and Holly Collison, 54, have lost a combined 201 pounds. Holly dropped 176 pounds, going from weighing 410 pounds to her current weight of 234 pounds, while Dan lost 25 pounds, going from 235 to 210 pounds.
Holly told Fox News Digital that the catalyst for her own fitness journey happened around December 2019, after she went through what she called a “health crisis.”
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Holly said she was experiencing fatigue and hot flashes and even struggled to get off the couch. After she saw a doctor and got a blood test, she was ultimately diagnosed with diabetes.
“I had undiagnosed diabetes for however long it was,” Holly told Fox. “I sat in the car and I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to die this way. I’m not going to live like this anymore.’”
Holly said that was the moment she decided to change her lifestyle and shared her plan with her husband, Dan.
Holly described her husband of 31 years as someone who’s “always been typically weighted and athletic.” Dan commutes to work on his bicycle and regularly works out.
“But that didn’t hinder our relationship,” Holly said. “We’ve had a very active, happy, productive, professionally successful life.”
Around the same time that Holly was diagnosed with diabetes, Dan told Fox News he realized he had gained about 25 pounds after a few “very stressful years,” so he decided to join Holly on her fitness journey.
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Their journey started with a plant-based, whole food diet. Holly said that within two months, she had lost 30 pounds and by February 2020, she “decided I needed to be physically moving.”
Her exercise started small, first with short walks to the stop sign at the end of their street and back. In early March, Holly and Dan joined their local Life Time fitness club, which had recently opened, in Minneapolis.
“This parallel journey that Holly ignited and I followed and then Life Time fitness and the opening of the Edina location became really important for us to do some of it together,” Dan said.
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Soon after they joined the club, it was shut down temporarily – along with most of the rest of the country – because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, when the gym reopened a few months later, the Collisons came back, too.
Now the gym – and exercise in general – is an important part of their personal routines and their relationship as a couple. Holly said she and Dan both go to the gym on their own at least three to four times a week.
At least once a week, the couple also go to the gym together. Though they do their own workouts, they’ll grab a coffee or a snack together beforehand and make a date of it.
“The whole experience…is relaxing, it’s energizing, it’s together,” Dan said. “We’re processing life and it sort of revolves around this incredible experience.”
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After Holly lost 100 pounds, she said she got a bicycle and now, she and Dan have started cycling together, too.
Since she started her fitness journey in December 2019, Holly said she’s had a change in how she feels about exercise.
“It’s not just what I do, it’s become who I am,” Holly said. “In two years now, I actually want to get up and do it.”
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Holly also said it’s been essential to have Dan’s unconditional love and support at every step of the way.
“I don’t know how it would work if you had a partner that was like, ‘I love you less when you are struggling, or when you’re not ideal,’” Holly said.
“Dan has always loved me,” she added. “And always treasured every part of me, including my body.”
Having that foundation with Dan is something that Holly said has helped her when she’s experienced discouragement or less motivation, including when she sees her weight loss plateau, which is a normal part of many people’s weight loss journeys, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“In order to get through that, I’ve had a lot of process time with Dan to just keep trusting that just by being healthy, my body will respond eventually,” Holly said. “It’s not about how many pounds I’ve lost, it’s about a healthy lifestyle.”
“And Dan… when I was at my heaviest, celebrated my beauty even then – in a time when I even couldn’t – it makes all the difference,” Holly added.
As Holly’s spouse, Dan said it’s been important for him to offer Holly a “foundation of love, of body acceptance,” rather than shame or guilt in her fitness journey.
Though he said he has worried about Holly’s health struggles in the past, Dan said it’s important for him not to pressure or coerce her into anything.
“To me, it is a sad reality that most partners… the partner wants to shame or guilt the partner into being a healthier version of themselves,” Dan said. “And you know, Holly has had a few times in her life where she’s made incredible runs at health. And this one feels the most holistic and the most sustainable. But in every case, it was always her call. It was always framed within a relationship of love and support and never shame-based and never, ‘get your crap together.’”
“More about compassion, more about hoping, more about trying to lead alongside, rather than push and shove and guilt and shame,” he added. “I just believe in that. The most effective life change in this space is when the person decides for themselves.”