BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — It's a new year. Plenty of folks have their resolutions, and many have already dropped them. If that rings a bell, well this story might fire you right back up.
Al Sagapolutele weighed 485 pounds by 30 years old. He tried diets. He tried a trainer. But he was stuck.
“There's so many ailments that come with being obese, and the most severe one for me was the heart attack at 39,” said Sagapolutele. “I was terrified.”
He said the worst part about it was he didn’t realize he had a heart attack until a doctor visit one week later, which suddenly turned into an ambulance ride to the hospital for stent surgery.
After the heart attack, he tried to lose weight, but bad eating habits and drinking alcohol crept back into his routine.
The bottom, he says, was when he suffered daily from a herniated disk, a narrowing of his spinal cord, knee pain and a CPAP machine just to sleep.
“I saw something about CrossFit. I walked in and saw a trainer and his words were ‘I want to help you, but you got to show up and do the work.’ And I went home and thought about it and thought this might be my last chance,” said Sagapolutele.
He showed up to an Atlanta CrossFit gym and was asked to start stepping up and down on a foot-tall box.
He didn’t make it ten steps before his leg buckled, and he collapsed to the floor.
“I was embarrassed, and I thought I'm not coming back and this isn't for me. But I went home and thought about it and the man said show up and do the work,” he said.
Sagapolutele stuck with it, one rep, one day, one meal at a time.
In three years, he’s lost more than 240 pounds.
During the process, he moved to the Twin Cities and quickly found a new home at CrossFit 952 in Bloomington.
“With Al, all he was doing is showing up and moving,” said Patrick Tait, Al’s trainer. “He wasn't doing anything crazy. Most people that come here aren't doing anything crazy. They are doing a progression, just get better and moving that needle a tiny bit.”
Sagapolutele is now a trainer at his new CrossFit gym, hoping to inspire others with his story.
“Whoever is struggling with their weight, this is possible. This is absolutely possible. You just have to take it one day at a time and find people that can help you,” said Sagapolutele.