This past week, I brought in a wonderful coach and friend, Steve Tramack, to add another set of ears to one of my ensembles, The Harbourtown Sound. Steve has become a great inspiration to us as a chorus, but also me as an individual. You see, not only is Steve a wonderful coach, but he has also lost a whopping 135 pounds in a year....no gimmicks, just healthy eating! Below is a short interview I did with Steve about his weight-loss journey and how it has affected him as a coach, director, and singer.
Jordan: Hi Steve, and thanks for sharing your personal stories about weight loss with all of us.
Steve: It's not a problem at all.
Jordan: So let's cut right to the chase. You have lost an amazing amount of weight in a year. What was the catalyst for this journey?
Steve: I was feeling tired, lethargic and in pain. It was a lot of work just to be me! I had to sit during quartet and chorus rehearsals and found it very difficult to stand and sing or direct an entire evening. Teaching at Harmony University was really tough, I couldn't stay up with friends and I felt exhausted all the time just from basic tasks, like walking around the campus. In fact, I would skip the social times in the evening because I needed to rest. I knew if I didn’t want to miss out on these things, something had to change.
Jordan: So that's when you started your journey?
Steve: That's right, August (right after Harmony University) 2012.
Jordan: That's amazing, 135 pounds in just over a year! I am sure many readers would be interested in what changes you actually made.
Steve: Around the same time I wanted to make a change, we found out that my daughter had some dietary issues and was diagnosed with celiac disease. The way I was eating was making me fat. Paleo was the answer for her and so I made the change as well. I also made some other decisions in how I would eat...no meals through a car window, no meals in the car and no snacks in between meals. My lifestyle is now a modified paleo plan. I also weigh myself every morning to keep me on track and use a Fitbit to monitor how many steps I take in a day. [Steve showed me the Fitbit and explained that when you tap it, each small light that comes on tells you that you have walked 1 mile. Once 5 miles are achieved, the lights almost dance in celebration. At this point, he said that he dances with the lights in a "happy dance" kind of way. He even gave me a demonstration of his "happy dance".]
Jordan: Obviously you have had numerous milestones getting to where you are now. Is there a moment over this last year that stands out amongst them?
Steve: Definitely! I went to a doctor last November [3.5 months after making the dietary change] to get some blood work done. A day or two later I started getting these weird calls from Chicago. Thinking it was telemarketers, I didn't answer. The persistence and amount of the calls made me pick up eventually and I found out it was a lab. They said my glucose levels were very high and I should speak to my doctor. My doctor took me in right away and re-did my blood work. Numbers may be different in Canada, but here in the United States, a normal range is between 20-100. My score was 360. The doctor informed me that if it was 400 I would have been sent to the hospital immediately. Still, I received a "congratulations, you have Type 2 Diabetes". I did explain that I had lost 25 pounds....they said that was great, keep going! That's when I went into overdrive with how strict I was with what I ate. Saying all of that, now a year later, I hover around 90-105, the high range of normal. My goal, through healthy eating and losing weight (45 pounds more to go), is that I will reverse the effects of Type 2 Diabetes.
Jordan: That is truly amazing Steve, congratulations! Now for all of our singing friends reading this BLOG, how have these changes affected your singing, coaching, and directing?
Steve: I have always struggled with clarity of tone, or point in the tone and since losing weight, I find it much easier to achieve. Maybe it's because I can support my tone better. In addition, I have gained a full step on the top of my range. I used to be able to sing an F# pretty full, but as I gained more weight, an F was hard. Now I'm hitting G's and Ab's. There was just a lot less stress on my body. I feel I have changed in 3 ways; physically, psychologically, but also chemically. These changes have dramatically improved my voice, confidence, and therefore, my abilities to be a more effective coach and musical director.
Jordan: Steve, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You are truly an inspiration to us all. All the best as you continue on your journey. Thanks again!
Next week will be my first personal update since the initial BLOG article, Confessions of a Fat Voice Teacher. In the meantime, join me (and The Beatles) in celebration about being a loser...of weight that is!