85 pounds later: DuQuette continues making progress

April 25, 2017

Last week, Dana DuQuette stepped on the scale for his weekly weigh-in and realized he had finally reached his ultimate goal. He had lost a total of 85 pounds. Dana’s fitness journey wasn’t easy. It started two years ago when he entered my Schell Brothers Corporate Fitness Challenge and lost 50 pounds, but he wasn’t satisfied, so he took what he learned and made it part of his everyday lifestyle. The result has been nothing short of amazing. I knew it would be inspirational to others to hear his thoughts on what made him so successful and allowed him to continue getting in better shape.

Why did you originally enter my program?

When I started the program, I was at the heaviest weight I had ever been (236.4 pounds), and I was frustrated, had low self-esteem, and hated looking at my body in the mirror. By chance, it was at the same time that the annual Schell Brothers Biggest Loser contest was about to begin. I had never been a big fan of exercise; however, I was so unhappy with my appearance I decided I had nothing to lose except the weight!

What motivated you to continue on your own for the last two years?

My motivation has ebbed and flowed. In the beginning I was motivated by the encouragement I received from trainers and the positive feedback from people in my life who were noticing the changes. Once the contest came to an end and I had lost my first 48 pounds, I did kind of fall off track for a few months. I tried to rationalize it as me deserving a break. However, as soon as I stopped following directions and started relapsing into my old bad habits, I just didn't feel as good as I had. I realized that if I did not resume my regimen and utilize all I had learned, I was inevitably going to be the overweight, unhappy person I had been before.  

How do you feel now that you reached your goal?

I still occasionally look at the original before picture as a simple reminder of what I never want to look like again.  As with anything, it is so easy to become complacent and forget, or simply take it for granted and not realize where you were and where you are now. Therefore I made a commitment to myself to stay the course and not forget, ever.

What lifestyle changes were the most helpful in reaching your goal? 

The gym is no longer optional. It is a regularly scheduled appointment on my calendar at least four days a week. I do not alter that schedule. Also, I still weigh in every Thursday morning after my shower, without fail and only on Thursday. I do not get on the scale at all during the rest of the week. I found that when I did and my body weight would fluctuate, I would become discouraged. One time a week regularly is all I do.

What did you learn in my program that became part of your life?

Ultimately, I learned how my body functions. I learned how carbs and proteins affect the body, and that monitoring the intake is important. I have to watch what I eat, and it's simply my reality now. I also learned that if I follow directions, I get results. 

How often do you work out to maintain your shape?

I am in the gym a minimum of four days a week. Now that I have achieved my goal weight, I know I have to begin working on the toning aspects. I chuckle when I tell you I now do a minimum of 60 minutes (3.5 miles) on the treadmill and some days will do 90 minutes (5.0 miles) with intense intervals. I find this funny because I vividly recall the first time you put me on the treadmill two years ago, I had to stop after 5 minutes at 2.3 speed and 0 incline because I couldn't catch my breath. I recall that memory regularly when I have any moments of doubt.

What was the most difficult part of your journey to get in shape?

Most difficult for me was being patient. I wanted to see results fast. However, once I realized this was not a temporary fix but a permanent lifestyle change, the need for immediate results became less important. That's honestly when it became easier. I simply allowed the process to work. It was a complete shift in my perspective.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to get in shape but is afraid to try? 

Afraid to try? I get it! I was scared to death. Scared of being in the gym and what others might think of me, scared that I wouldn't be able to exercise the right way, but most of all, scared of failure and that I was never going to lose the weight. My advice is dig deep and force yourself. The first day is the worst, but keep in mind, once that first day is over you never have to experience that feeling again. Each day gets a little bit easier.

What advice would you offer someone who has reached their goal and is trying to maintain?

Eating healthy and regular exercise are not optional. Treat the gym like a regular scheduled appointment and penalize yourself for no-shows and when you want to overindulge. I always equate it to how many more minutes/miles or workouts I will have to do to pay for it. Most of the time, that pint of Ben and Jerry's just doesn't seem so appealing any longer. 

Dana is a great example of what can be accomplished if you put your mind to it, and he is an inspiration to others who are thinking about making the choice to get in shape and change their lives. Congratulations, Dana, and keep up the good work!

  • Chris Antonio is a personal trainer and former world-class weightlifter. He has been lifting for more than 20 years and has trained a wide variety of clients ranging from All-American athletes to the average person trying to get into shape. To send a question to the Ask the Trainer column, email Chris at or check out

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter