What sacrifices are you willing to make to become the best version of yourself? Today’s guest, Dylan Farris, answered that question clearly and courageously when he decided to put his health first and lost over 100 pounds in one year.
Dylan Farris is a fitness instructor and self-proclaimed theater nerd that grew up always overweight. Upon graduating high school, he decided that though he had always been a “behind-the-scenes” kind of person, that wasn’t who was he meant to be. That decision led him to transform his life and from there, he went on to lose 100 pounds in one year.
Now, Dylan teaches fitness classes to support others in putting themselves first and sharing his journey of health, self-love, and discovery, and how to find your identity beyond physical appearances.
Visionaries, if you’re committed to any sort of transformation, whether in business, health or finances, this episode is for you.
Podcast of Episode
Video of Interview with Dylan Farris
Transcript of Episode
Leah Gervais: Okay visionaries. Welcome back. Welcome to your biggest vision. I’m your host, Leah. And we’re very lucky to have Mr. Dylan Farris with us today. Hi, Dylan.
Dylan Farris: Hello. Coming to us from California. So, Dylan and I actually met because he’s a teacher at Equinox where I work out here in New York. Although he left me to go to California, as you can see, but he was and still is the best teacher I’ve ever had for any workout class. I can still hear you at six in the morning, you’re drunk, you’re hungover. I don’t care, workout.
Dylan Farris: I’m not drunk or hungover, but like if everyone else is like, that’s totally fine. You guys like you live your best life.
Leah Gervais: Well, you were the best and I still refuse to go to another 6:00 am, because I know they won’t fill your shoes.
Dylan Farris: Oh, thank you. Yeah, so we’re very lucky to have him. I’m going to read a little bit about him but just for everyone listening, the reason I wanted to have done on the show is because this show is all about transformation and living your life within the highest vision of yourself and constantly pushing yourself to what is possible for you and questioning the norm, questioning the status quo, questioning how you were brought up, and really living in alignment with yourself. I often interview entrepreneurs here. I love entrepreneurs. I’m an entrepreneur, as you all know. And there is so much vision behind building a business. And there’s other types of transformation that can be actually just just as hard, if not harder. And so Dylan, do you want to talk a little bit about the transformation you’re going to share with us today? Yeah, sure. So I grew up a nice, hefty child. And when I graduated high school, I actually weighed about like, 287 pounds and I realized like, that wasn’t who I was or who I wanted to be. So over the course of like a year, I lost about 106 pounds.
Leah Gervais: A year?
Dylan Farris: Yeah, so the first like six months I lost like 75 and then the next six I lost another like 30-ish. So I got like, really skinny and I was like okay like maybe too skinny so I like started like building myself back up kind of from the ground up. But yeah in total is 106 was like the biggest deficit.
Leah Gervais: Wow. So Dylan’s going to talk to us about realizing that he has something better in store for his life, for his health, and then obviously you guys at the end of the story how he came in was teaching at Equinox and was the best teacher I’ve ever had. So, congratulations on this huge transformation.
Dylan Farris: Thank you, it’s been absolutely crazy.
Leah Gervais: So tell us a bit more about like your childhood and growing up and what you kind of thought about health or if you even thought about it back then. And just before you get into that I just want to pause for the listeners. I don’t talk about health that much just because there’s only so many things that we can talk about. But if I had to pick one reason I was able to build my business to what it is around my nine to five job it is because I’ve worked out every day and I could not have done it without this. I fully, fully believe that. So I’m really excited to have you here to talk about how important health is to every aspect of your life.
Dylan Farris: Oh, yes, absolutely. So growing up, I was actually like a theater boy. So I grew up my whole life do musical theater was doing all that. And I was kind of always like, on the sidelines or in the back and things like that. And I realized I’m not a background person. And I knew I had so much more potential inside of myself. And my biggest obstacle was myself. And so by the time I graduated high school, I was like looking at these high school graduation pictures. I was like, who is that beached whale, walking in a cap and gown accepting his diploma? Like it was rough. And so that summer, I was living in Colorado at the time. And so as soon as they move back to California to start college, I sequestered myself for a year. Kind of like pushed friends aside and I was like, No, my first year of college I want to fix myself first before I can, invest in everyone else and really invest in my future.
Dylan Farris: So every day I woke up just like you, at like 6am, I would work out for two hours straight. And I for that first six month period is the exact same thing every single day, never strayed, my family hated me for it. Because we would go to restaurants and I would have my little Ziploc full of shrimp and salad, and I would just ask for like, an empty plate, and they’re like, you don’t want any kind of food and I was like, nope, I got my shrimp. Yeah. So, you know, you go to like Fleming’s, or you go to like Ruth’s Chris and you just asked for an empty play. I got a lot of side eye and a lot of slack from it. I think one of the biggest motivators you know, everyone kind of grows up from that early 20s of their life like Ruth was talking about in your last episode, she sent an early 20’s a lot of people just kind of doubted her, everyone was like you’re never going to do this. So when I first you know, came out and said, hey, I really want to lose all this weight, I want to focus on myself. A lot of people kind of shrugged it off and they just said, like, okay, Dylan. Like, good luck with that. So that was really the driving motivator, you know, I had so many people to prove wrong at that point. So every morning, I just kind of woke up and was like, do this for you, and do this for the people who said you could have and so now we’re here.
Leah Gervais: Yes, absolutely. Amazing. Wow. Okay, so, so many great things about what you just shared that I want to pull out. So first of all, where in Colorado did you grow up? I’m from Colorado.
Dylan Farris: Evergreen, so little, little teeny tiny mountain town, like tucked into the foothills population of like, 6,000, you know.
Leah Gervais: I’m from Southwest Colorado, so not close. So okay, amazing. So yeah, your transformation is very amazing. First of all, congratulations. You know, there’s principles here that I think are valuable for everyone so when you… walk us through when you make the decision. Like I’m going to lose 100 pounds. I mean, it must mean that you change everything about your life, your social life, eating, exercising, as you said, you really repelled people. What was sort of the tipping point? And how did you really promise yourself that you weren’t gonna mess this up?
Dylan Farris: It’s actually a day, funnily enough, it’s patriots day. Which, it’s in late September every year, and I was performing with my choir, funnily enough, and right after that we all went out for pizza. I remember sitting there being so ashamed to eat in front of people. All these new people, because I don’t know people just look at you differently when you weigh a lot more. And so it’s like pizza and so all I thought was judgment no matter if I was eating salad, if I was eating pizza, ice cream, anything that I consumed in front of people. I just had a fear of doing it. I realized it was such a debilitating thing because it was such a social aspect. You know, we center so many things around food. It’s like you want to have an interview, you want to have a meeting, you hang out with friends, you go to dinner, you go to drinks, so do all this stuff. And there was this whole life, I’d never lead that I always wanted to. So that night, it was a Friday night and I drove home, and I was like, I cannot be held back anymore. And so I just told myself, I wanted to change. I had no idea it would hit 100, I had no idea. I just wanted to get like under 200 pounds at some point in my life and I would have been happy because I was in the 200 and since like, I think freshman year, maybe like eighth grade. Yes, I was like huge, even from the get go.
I went home that Friday night and just kind of told myself two hours a day, you’re just going to work out you’re going to do all this stuff. I had a friend who was like, if you want to come over, I’ll work out with you do all this stuff and that’s basically just kind of how it started. And I really didn’t understand the repercussions you would have until it was going through you know, bringing my own things to dinner and realizing that, you know, I still kind of had to sequester myself still, if I want to say regimented. Yeah that’s kind of how it all led to be. And the first like, 75 it came off like this first six months and so I weighed under 200 pounds right before the new year. Which was insane. And so by the time the new year started, I was like, Okay, what is this year going to entail for me? Like, what is 2012 going to do for me that 2011 didn’t. I told myself just to keep going. I was like, I seen so many crazy results and funnily enough like the tipping point was after I hit that 100 mark. I kind of looked at myself in the mirror and I took a picture like a before and after like we always do. I realized I had gone overboard like I had done way too much to kind of overcorrect myself. You know, I became obsessed. You know, before I was obsessed with eating everything, and then I became obsessed with eating nothing. So it’s like, I kind of like withered away a little bit. And I’m still myself. But then I was almost just too much of an empty shell of myself.
So after that, I kind of started getting into dancing more. And so you know, it’s like you’re picking up girls and you’re doing all this stuff. And it’s like, I started building that muscle back up. And so I finally kind of, you know, I took away everything I used to be was a little too hollow, and then I kind of started pumping myself back up with who I wanted to be. And so I was working out for myself, I was dancing I was doing all this stuff and it’s like that, you know, all kind of came to fruition in 2013 was when I finally realized who I could be, which funnily enough, 2013 was the year I came out. So yeah.
Leah Gervais: Wow. That was so beautifully told. You know, it’s so amazing how, with eating and with exercising, but with so many things we put our identity into just like our daily habits and then all the sudden you’re the person that’s dieting and it’s like well, no, I’m more than a person. That’s dieting like who am I really? Wow, that’s great that and then it brought you to come out which is amazing. So do you think that it when you first you had that day, you had that night, you were coming home from pizza and you wanted to change you would have said to yourself I’m going to lose 100 pounds in a year it would have been like way too much and maybe would have made you break down? Do you think there was some benefit to having it open ended?
Dylan Farris: Absolutely. Well, I you know, and I’ve studied nutrition, I’ve studied weight loss management now. I became so infatuated with health and fitness and doing it the proper way that I wanted to learn everything I could about it. And, you know, it’s that understanding of if you set this giant goal for yourself, it’s daunting. But, if you just tell yourself, I’m going to make these lifestyle changes and just kind of let it be what it might be. Boom, that’s how it happened. So I told myself Dylan, you’re gonna lose 100 pounds by that day next year, I don’t think it would have happened. And I wouldn’t be here.
Leah Gervais: Yeah, that’s such great advice. And I think it really, you know what something I teach my clients a lot is it is the baby steps. And it can be frustrating when you are big visionary or big dreamer, whatever, you know, getting from, one weight down 100 pounds or getting from like, one income goal to a huge, a huge next one. No matter what way it’s going to take small steps. So you might as well look at it in the bite sized steps that are going to be necessary anyway. Otherwise, if you’re just looking for that huge jump, it’s going to feel daunting and you’re not going to move forward. So, that’s really insightful. And then do you think that one of my favorite things that you said was that when you were looking sort of at your yearbook and you were graduating and you said I’ve always been behind the scenes I’m not a behind the scenes kind of person like that’s gives me chills just thinking about that. But, where did you pull from or what kind of courage or maybe people or resources, where you found the confidence that like you, not only do you know you’re not going to be behind the scenes person, you actually are going to make it happen right now that you’re no longer behind the scenes? It does take courage.
Dylan Farris: Yeah I truthfully I feel like I found it in myself. And I guess it was just because, you know, moving from Colorado back to Southern California, I was kind of on my own, like starting a new college career, starting a new life. And I realized this might be my one opportunity to truly like, wipe my slate clean and become who I was always meant to be. You know, when I first started it, like I said, people doubted it, people questioned it, and I just kind of had to shut people out and actually listened to myself for the first time versus constantly listening to every single other person in my life and letting them kind of dictate a manifest who I was going to be and I said, nope, Thank you, Next, I’m going to do it myself.
Leah Gervais: Do you think that that mentality is something you’ve carried over into the rest of your life and just really realizing that you need to live for yourself and not for anyone else? Are you better at it now?
Dylan Farris: I am much better now. Still a work in progress every day, you know, going to therapy, still doing everything I can to still take care of myself. You know, I teach 19 classes a week, but I still do my own type of workouts away from everything just to honestly, like, take care of myself and still care for my body. Because self care is sexy, dude, like it if you don’t take care of yourself, like who else is going to want to take care of you? Lucky me like I have a partner who I love and he’ll always take care of me. But that’s still because I’m taking care of myself too.
Right. People follow by example, and you don’t have to be the first one to do it. So what advice do you have for people, whether it is about weight loss or whether it is about you know, really anything, whether it’s parenting, whether it’s starting business, anything where they might in some way be making their decisions based on what they think other people might think they should do, or what other people who might even have the best of intentions are telling them to do. And how do you really listen to your own gut? It’s hard.
Dylan Farris: It’s incredibly hard. And, you know, it’s about trusting yourself. I’ve had trust issues for my whole life. And so trusting yourself is, I think the hardest thing because you get so used to putting so many pieces of yourself and other people, you kind of lose how many pieces of yourself you have left? Yeah, so if I’m dividing myself up between 40 different people, that’s 40 different pieces of 40 different puzzles. So when it comes together, the pictures screwed up. It’s not what it’s supposed to be. But if you ask yourself, what pieces can I put together to make this image clear? That’s where you’re going to get your answer and you’re not going to find your pieces every day. I found my pieces in you know, I’ve started in 2011 and I’m still finding pieces to myself. You know the this puzzle, it doesn’t have edges, it doesn’t have corners. So you kind of just keep checking on the picture gets bigger and bigger, you know. And it’s beautiful once you finally get to see what picture it’s making.
Leah Gervais: Yeah, when you see the masterpiece of your life coming together for you, yeah. Now, what’s so important to remember is those 40 people that have little parts of you with them, don’t have to live with the regret that you will if you don’t do things the way that you want to. So it’s worth the pain to go through. If in the long run, it means that you’re doing things within your own alignment, I think.
Dylan Farris: Exactly.
Leah Gervais: Amazing. Amazing. Well, what a story and then my final question for you about your story because I think everyone can relate to it. You know, he listened to this podcast and I asked her the same thing. Now when people can look at you and think I’m sure you’ve inspired so many people to take their health more seriously, to take their weight more seriously, to take their you know, energy more seriously. There’s so many things that come with what you’ve done. But when you’re when you’re in those, I mean, it sounds like things happen relatively quickly for you, but it was still a huge lifestyle change. So when you’re in those first couple weeks, or months where you’re in the gym for two hours and it sucks, and you’re tired, and everyone is looking at you like when you don’t have the sexy finish yet, how do you keep going? What did you do and what advice you have for other people when they’re at that beginning messy part?
Dylan Farris: I celebrated the small victories. You know, I still tell my classes, every single day like I taught a class two hours ago at 5:30 and, you know, 45 minutes spin class at the very end, you know, everyone’s exhausted and they have all their stats in front of them. It’s like concrete evidence of everything they just did in class. Maybe someone broke a record, maybe someone did it terribly. I tell them as soon as the class ends. I’m like you guys, the only thing you should celebrate is that it is 5:30. You dragged yourself here before the sun came up. You got into a room full of sweaty strangers, you were yelled at by a very sweaty, homosexual for 45 minutes. All of those things, are things to celebrate because you did it and if you came in here and you’re just like coasted for 45 minutes. That’s better than the person who didn’t do anything, right? So, I celebrate the small victories. If I didn’t lose as much weight as I expected to in a week, I said, at least I’m still doing it and I still have the capacity to do it. And if one thing knocks me back, that just means I have two more steps. I get to jump through and celebrate when I do get to that point. Because there comes a point in my life, which is so funny that we met at Equinox when I was a trainer because when I was living in New York, I didn’t think I was going to make it and I was at a point I had just left this awful like turbulent relationship. It was abusive, it was terrible. I was right in the middle of training for Equinox and training for another spin studio. And I was homeless at the time.
Leah Gervais: Oh my god.
Dylan Farris: Yeah. This is maybe like six months before I met you. And so I you know, was at this point where I thought I might not make it. Like, I might not have what it takes to make it in the city or, you know, make it as an instructor. And my dad called me and he was like, hey, how’s it going? I was like, everything’s fine. But like weeping, you know, as we all do for our parents. Snd I told him all these doubts and all these fears, and he’s like, dude, life is just a bunch of waves, all right, like some you’re going to ride to the shore, some are going to knock you the hell out. You have to celebrate both of them because both of them are going to make you stronger for different reasons. And so once I got equinox, once I got the other spin studio, once I started settling myself back on my feet. I actually got a wave tattoo. Oh, and so you know, just like every day to remind me that like every day is a wave. So some are going to knock you out some you’re going to ride and coast and both of them are going to make you stronger for different reasons. So celebrate every little wave.
Leah Gervais: Absolutely beautiful. I mean, that’s the number one advice I give my clients is to celebrate every single one and I just want to speak to how powerful it is that you have that mentality. Because so for everyone listening, Dylan would teach this class called net-con at equinox, which is a very, it’s very hard. It was at six in the morning. It’s like my favorite class, but it is not for the faint of heart. And usually the way the class ends is there’s three sets of 20 exercises you need to do to basically run the battery on empty before you leave the class. In case you’re not already like, exhausted. I remember Dylan, you would have us instead, like, you would just not do that. You would have us lay down and like thank ourselves for coming to workout, thank ourselves for getting up at six in the morning, thank ourselves for being strong. And I think I might have told you this, but I’m not sure. But when I met you right after or I think relatively quickly after, my Dad had just passed away very suddenly, he was skiing, it was completely out of the blue, and your class was the first exercise class I did. And when you had us lay there, I was like sobbing.
Dylan Farris: Yep. I remember.
Leah Gervais: It was emotional, but like you changed my whole day and you gave me a lot of courage to keep working out because for the first couple weeks I could barely get out of bed. Then when I went and did that and you know I felt proud after I worked out but you really made me reflect on how how strong it was just that I even got out of bed, that is what helped me continue exercising, what helped me continue staying in shape, so I hope this story is a lesson to everyone listening that you never know who you’re impacting by, you know celebrating things, by encouraging other people, by living within your truth, and you really can like change someone else’s life just by doing simple thing like that like you did for me.
Dylan Farris: I love that. I absolutely love that. I remember that day literally you came up to see me right afterwards and you’re like hi and I was like how you doing and like you just had to cry and believe me, I’m a cancer, I cry constantly. So that was just beautiful because like you know, you did what you needed to do. You celebrated the fact that you came. Who knows if that was your strongest workout, if it absolutely sucked and you were miserable for 45 minutes. You did it. So, celebrate it, and like, tuck it away and be like, what’s going on next?
Leah Gervais: Yeah, yeah and you helped me reflect on that. Because during that time, and I think any obstacle, it’s so easy to look at how we’re falling short. So, if you help people and help yourself, you realize the accomplishments that you have had. It really does keep you going. So that’s amazing that you’ve done that in your own life. And so thank you for sharing your I mean, amazing, amazing story with us and really great takeaways. I have a couple of biggest vision questions for you. Are you ready?
Dylan Farris: Oh, my gosh. I’m ready. Okay. Get some ice coffee. We’re ready.
Leah Gervais: All right. Some you have answered a little bit. But, I ask everyone here. Yeah. How do you consistently fight for your vision when the odds are working against you? When there’s pizza, when there’s no time, when people don’t get it, whatever it is?
Dylan Farris: I fight for my ambition. I look at all the good stuff that’s happening in my life. And that kind of fuels me so if I am having a terrible day, if I feel like I wasn’t a good instructor in a day, and anything like that, anything I feel that might be like kind of harrowing or holding me down. Think of all the amazing things in my life. I am living in Southern California. I have a roof over my head. I have a partner who is incredible and I love. I have jobs that I love and don’t feel like jobs. So there are days maybe I don’t feel 100%. I still know that I have so many tools to get back to 100% that all allow myself to kind of wallow for five minutes, shake it off, because I know there’s so much more to like, celebrate. And I’ll just push on.
Leah Gervais: Beautiful, beautiful. So focus on the good you get. We all get to choose what we focus on. It’s a beautiful thing.
Dylan Farris: It takes much less energy to focus on the good things then the bad. If I, you know, just and wallowed that’s draining. But if I do it for five minutes because you don’t want to suppress it. You don’t want to like try and not think about it. You allow yourself to think about it. You breathe it in. You do what you need to do and then you say there’s so many other beautiful things to be worried about right now. And just Thank you, Next. As Ariana Grande is playing at Starbucks right now.
Leah Gervais: Oh perfect. What are you most proud of so far?
Dylan Farris: Funnily enough proud of moving to New York, I moved there by myself I, you know, didn’t really know what I was anticipating to do. A lot of people again said, that’s a big city like you’ve lived with your family your whole life. I don’t know if you could live by yourself. And then I spent two years there and made enough for myself to move back here comfortably. And then I’m proud of the fact that I could move and not really bat an eye, you know. I can move and yeah, I have a car, and I already have a job, and you know everything. I think I’m just proud of the life that I ended up making for myself. It wasn’t what I thought I would do you know, eight years ago. When I started all of this, I thought I was going to be like on Broadway and a musical theatre star and dancer boy and everything like that. And I realized what I loved about theatre was inspiring people. I wondered how I could inspire people in a much smaller, intimate setting while still kind of performing. I mean, you’ve taken my classes, you know, it was a 45 minute Dylan performance, I would dance around, I would twerk in front of people, you know, because working out sucks sometimes. And if I’m boring, like, you’re going to be bored. So, you know, I get to perform, but you’re a perfect example of I get to perform but also still inspire people or help motivate them through whatever they might be going through. Whether it’s a loss, whether it’s home problems, relationship problems, things like that. People come to the gym to kind of be selfish and shut the world out or work through it. And that’s what I’m really happy I get to do so.
Leah Gervais: Yeah, hell yeah. I mean, I’m sure you inspire people every day and helping people put themselves first is like the gift that will always keep on giving. So and also just any day that you survive in New York City is a day you should be proud of.
Dylan Farris: Honestly I spent a cute like 783 days there and that is 783 celebrations. 100%.
Leah Gervais: Do you have a book or podcasts that you recommend to keep you motivated?
Dylan Farris: Oh, I love playing like podcasts. But they’re not motivating. Cheryl Strayed. Oh my gosh. I’m trying to remember the name of the book. It is an Advice book. I want to say it’s called like Tiny Little Everything’s or Tiny Little Something’s. I know it’s three words. But it’s basically a book. She was an advice columnist and basically people were reaching out to her and you know, she just kind of gave advice to people and told them you know, this is what you should be doing. You know, people gave her real life problems. And she gave real world answers. There wasn’t like, you should just believe in yourself and really touch your aura and your spirit. Like, she was just, like, cold and hard. And she was like, this is what you’re going through. I know, it sucks, but this is what you can do to fix it and move on. And so many of those stories, you know, they’re very specific. But they can kind of still reverberate in a more of a general setting. And you can plug yourself in as so many of them. You know, there’s a whole like love section, there’s a work section, there’s a family section, and almost every single one of them. I was like, wow, I could have written this letter. So yeah, so like, I would definitely 100% recommend that.
Leah Gervais: I’ll find the book and I’ll put it in the show notes of this episode. Yes. Cool. All right.
Dylan Farris: Tiny Beautiful Things. Yes.
Leah Gervais: Okay. Great. Awesome. All right. Final question, Where can people find you, follow you, work out with you? People can follow me on Instagram @DylanFerris. And then I also run a weight loss blog called The Fat Kid Diaries. So if you just look that up, you’ll see me.
Leah Gervais: That’s so great. Okay, cool. Cool. Thanks so much Dylan. Thanks for sharing your story. This was very inspirational. And I think that the takeaways from it are applicable to anyone wanting to make a variety of changes in their life. I hope that it continues to serve you in doing anything.
Dylan Farris: You’re the absolute best. Thank you so much for having me.
Leah Gervais: My absolute pleasure. All right. I’ll talk to you soon.
Dylan Farris: Bye, girl.
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