Calendar Body Transformation for Firefighter

Firefighter Dan Messenger was always active throughout his life – soccer, rugby, golf, basketball, and everything in-between. He joined the Calgary Fire Department in 2010 and since then, he’s worked in busy fire stations seeing amazing and wonderful things along the way, but also witnessing the awful things too.

In 2019, Dan was diagnosed with work-related PTSD, and after battling for a year to get his mental health in check (along with a whole list of medications to treat it), he’d gained around 40lbs.

Dan’s Motivation

His coach, Nadine Moxon, was a family friend and encouraged him to do a food sensitivity test. In November 2020, Dan removed close to 40 foods from his diet, foods that were deemed detrimental to his gut health – this included dairy, nuts, gluten, and ‘what seemed like anything that I tended to eat on a regular basis.’ Two months later, he dropped 15lbs of inflammatory weight while training infrequently, but after 60 days he fell off the wagon and started eating all those foods again.

Finally, in March 2021, Nadine customized a plan for Dan and he got to work.

“My initial goal was to simply feel better, but as time went on, I started to naturally feel better and came off my anti-depressant medication,” he says.

“I dropped the weight quickly and started to add other goals to my training; bench pressing 225lbs for 10 reps was achieved in 3 months, and then bench pressing 315lbs for 3 reps…well, I nailed that inside the 6-month mark”.

“But in May that year, I lost one of my closest friends to suicide caused by PTSD from his career in the fire service. Derek was the same age as me at 35, and Mr. Fit. He’d been involved with the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society Calendar for several years and had always been on my case to do the calendar too. I’d always refused to do it, but when Derek passed away, it felt like the natural, and right, thing to do to honor his memory.”

“So, I set about the goal of trying out for the Calgary Firefighter Burn Treatment Society Hotstuff Calendar in 2022 – this became my focal point from June 2021 onwards.”

Bodybuilding And Nutrition

Dan began noticing changes to his physique and training but was dealing with a bucket load of injuries, so after getting in touch with a sports therapist, his path led him to begin bodybuilding – which has now gone full throttle into the competitive world.

“I reluctantly agreed to explore the idea of competitive bodybuilding (through a series of circumstances) and have continued my training to this point today,” Dan explains.

“I’ve been training anywhere from 4 to 5 days per week out of King’s Fitness in Calgary, a 24hr club geared towards bodybuilding, powerlifting, and functional training. I focus on various body parts throughout the week and over the course of the last 3 months, I’ve added LISS cardio into the mix to get ready for my initial goal of the calendar photoshoot.”

“Nutrition-wise, I avoided foods that were essentially toxic to my body according to my FST list and worked hard to keep my protein intake as high as possible. I continually keep my protein around the 300-350g per day range, fats in the 50-75g range and carbs were around 200g per day for the majority of the last year.”

Evolt Scanning for Dan

Dan did his first body scan with coach Nadine in March 2020 while he was off work with PTSD. When he returned to work in the fall of 2020, he had a routine medical conducted where he learned his body fat percentage was at 31.3% with a weight of 234lbs.

“I was appalled, to see the body fat percentage as high as it was, I was in the worst shape of my life,” he says.

“In the 19 months since then, I went from 31.3% to 9.5%. The initial scan at the CFD medical clinic was not on an Evolt therefore I don’t have the results to share on that, but my first Evolt 360 scan shows a body fat percentage of 27% and a body weight of 228.2lbs. I have lost a substantial amount of fat and gained a healthy amount of lean tissue in this time.”

“I like the Evolt 360 scan for the fact that it breaks down everything from the intracellular fluid and extracellular fluid to a segmental analysis of your body’s composition. At 35 years old, I had a biological age of 38 and I didn’t like that. Now I’m 36 and have a bio age of 31. I like how the app version of the software stores previous scans and you can view it all on your cell phone.”

“I found it extremely beneficial to use the Evolt scanner to track my progress. When I was training so hard for so long, it helped my motivation levels to be able to see the numbers increasing and decreasing accordingly when I wasn’t seeing much physical change. It’s easy to feel happy with results if you’re building visible muscle or losing pant sizes, but when the changes are slowing down, it’s the numbers that really kept me motivated to continue.”

Body Transformation for Firefighter

Dan Speaks Candidly

Dan’s personal experience with body image and health has seen him gain full insight, and he is now confident to provide his own advice to those thinking of making a change.

“I was always self-conscious at the gym and always wore baggy/oversized clothing to hide my belly,” he reveals.

“I would never remove my shirt in the yard or at the beach – until this year. Now I have confidence that I’m in the best shape of my life and I feel like a new person. My energy is improved, my self-confidence is improved, my sex drive is back to normal and most importantly my sleep patterns have improved allowing my mind to rest and recharge for the next day”.

“The best advice I can give someone is to find a professional coach and interview them. Find out about their passion for health and fitness and find a coach that is educated and has values that best align with your own”.

“The reason I’m pursuing bodybuilding right now is to promote the link between a healthy mind and a healthy body – one cannot exist without the other”.

“This is especially important in the first responder world where mental health issues are prevalent and are increasing in numbers. My hope is to spread awareness and to set an example of how to positively overcome the obstacles faced through on-the-job trauma.”

“I hope to make myself, my family, and my colleagues proud of my accomplishments and I hope to be a source of light in their darkness.”

*If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24/7 crisis support.

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