The Weight is Over: Erin Lundgren -‘I don’t want to ever feel like I did 10 months ago’

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Erin Lundgren mug

Erin Lundgren has lost almost 110 pounds in 10 months, and he’s not done.

Q: Erin Lundgren, welcome to A News I’m delighted to talk with you about your health and fitness journey. I already know a little bit about you because you and I work out at Align Private Training during the same Wednesday-morning time slot. That’s how I know you hate the air bike (Satan’s bicycle) as much as I do, but I also learned recently that you broke some kind of rowing machine record at Align, which is actually written on the window. Impressive!

But for those who don’t know you, can you tell a little about yourself, please?

Lundgren family

Erin Lundgren and his family.

In 1978 I moved from the Bay Area to Lakehead. I’m 42, and married to Shelley Lundren. We have two boys, Jesse and Jace Lundgren.

I am 6-feet 6-inches tall. I have always been bigger than everyone I know. That being said, I am louder and always cracking funny jokes.

Q: I can attest to your humor. You keep us laughing.

Seriously, though,  you’re the first man I’ve approached for this feature. I think I was nervous, because being a woman, I can relate to what so many women go through, especially struggling with weight issues. But I didn’t know if guys had the same issues. I guess we’re about to find out.

Let’s start with an overview of your history of challenges with your weight.

I was 438 pounds. I have always had a weight issue. I tried everything known to mankind to lose it; always unsuccessfully.

Q: But at some point, you decided you wanted to lose weight. Why?

I could see how my unhealthy lifestyle was affecting my wife and children. But I guess what really made me want to lose my weight was when my doctor told me I had type-2 diabetes. That was really the flick of the switch.

Q: So what did you do to lose weight?

 I started this diet that I made up myself consisting of just tortillas and hot sauce. I did this diet for about three or four months. During this diet I started walking the river trail with my sister about three times a week. I lost about 20 pounds. We would also walk up and down the big hill on Hilltop. I hated it.  I had to push myself to continue.

Q: I still can’t believe you survived on tortillas and hot sauce all that time. Man, that’s extreme.

How did you end up at Align?

One day my sons and I were walking down Pine Street and I saw a sign on a door that said “Align Fitness” – so I took a picture of it. I was interested in this place because it was a private trainer, and that appealed to me because people of my size know what it’s like to work out around people who are already in shape at gyms. It sucks.

It took me about two months to work up the courage to call this Align Fitness place, but I eventually did.

Erin Lundgren and trainer Matthew Lister getting in some walking time on the river trail.

Erin Lundgren and trainer Matthew Lister getting in some walking time on the river trail.

Q: Erin, I can relate to your story completely. And I know how it feels to gather the courage to try this one last thing. But you did it!

I know you’re still heading for a goal, but can you give a before-and-after description of where you were at your most unhealthy, and where you are, now, health and fitness-wise?

I was constantly in pain with my back and my knees. I couldn’t sleep at night because of the pain and sleep apnea. Getting out of bed was horrible. Taking a shower was sometimes exhausting. The only time I felt good was when I was sitting around on my butt watching TV.

Not all clothes would fit me. Seat belts didn’t fit me. Size 5 xlt (extra long/tall) T-shirts didn’t fit me, and 50-inch-waist shorts were getting tight.  I would run out of breath really easily doing just about anything.

The after (now): Oh my God. Night and day difference. I’m wearing 3xl shrits, 40-inch waist pants, and am getting new clothes. I have new energy, a new outlook, no more diabetes and no more sleep apnea.

I went from 438 pounds to where I am now; 330 pounds.

I can run around with my wife and kids now. No more back pain, no knee pain. I can do things now that I haven’t been able to do since high school.

Life is awesome right now.

Q: That’s great Erin, and you know what? It shows that you feel life is awesome.

Now, you and I share our hatred of the air bike (Satan’s bicycle) but what are some of the other biggest challenges for you?

My biggest challenges, well, I guess it would be having to stay focused. Once you start this process there’s no turning back. I can’t and I don’t want to ever feel like I did 10 months ago.

Q: I see how hard you work. It’s impressive. What do you tell yourself to keep motivated?

You can’t be lazy. You can’t sit in front of the TV. You can’t eat all day. You have to exercise three or four times a week for at least an hour. You have to pay attention to what you eat and drink, and surround yourself with people who do the same.

You will fall sometimes, but you just have to keep picking yourself back up, and never quit!

Q: Erin, it’s obvious you have resolve, and I have no doubt you’ll achieve your goal, and you’ll never go back.

Finally, a lighter question. When you’re not working, or working out, what do you do for fun?

Erin, Shelley and son

I really haven’t had the chance to do one certain thing I really want to do.

My wife and kids and I have not stopped moving since I started this journey.

I am really looking forward to hunting, fishing, hiking, golfing, walking with my wife, and just doing other fun things.

Maybe in the future do a mud run.

My kids are getting older, but any time I get to do anything fun with them I take advantage of it.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

My wife is my heart, and my boys are the blood that it pumps. Without them I would be nothing. I could never thank my wife enough for giving me the opportunity to restart my life with her.

Lastly, Matthew Lister is one of the best things that ever happened to me. He showed me a new life that I have been wanting for a very long time. Without him I would probably be dead. I truly consider him a brother, and would do anything for him. He is light years beyond any fitness trainer. I wish everyone who is going through what I went through would meet him. Your life will change forever.

Thank you, Twisted Lister!

Oh, and thank you, Doni. This is one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me!

Q: You are very welcome, but I thank you, Erin. You are an inspiration to me, and I know you will be to others, too. I’m honored that you entrusted me with your story.

See you Wednesday!

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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14 Responses

  1. Wow — that is an incredible story. Enjoy your New Life, Erin! Thank you for sharing your journey – wishing you continued success.

  2. A. Jacoby A. Jacoby says:

    GO ERIN!!!!

    We cross paths two mornings a week. Erin is usually leaving as I’m arriving . . . . soon enough to get  in on his parting shots. They are always fun, upbeat and, yes, funny! My kind of people!!!!!! There happens to be a lot of “my kind of people” at Align. Hmmmm . . . . could it be because Matthew exudes such an air of confidence in our success that none of us could ever conceive of letting him down? Whatever the psychology/physiology happening there, IT’S WORKING for many of us that have sailed for a large portion of our lives on the sea of despair. What a relief to finally find the port of positive outcomes. Sorry . . . i tend to wax a bit poetic when it comes to Matthew and Align!!

  3. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    May I tell a what-might-have-been story?  My brother-in-law could have been your “before” story.  He was 6′ 5″ and weighed 400 pounds.  He was extremely artistic and creative and a craftsman par excellence.  His very painful back and knees kept him in his chair in front of the television or computer.  He would go on ludicrous diets, lose 50 pounds, tire of the egg-and-grapefruit diet he thought was healthful, and the scale would leap back up.  Unlike you, he didn’t find a Twisted Lister because, tough guy that he was, he’d succeed by himself, by golly.  That wasn’t to be, and my sister found his body in their front yard one evening when she came home from work.  It was the first time he had been dressed and out of the house in months, and we’re guessing he threw a clot and died.  The EMT’s had a very difficult time moving his body, and a further insult was that she had to be charged extra to have him cremated because an oversize furnace was required.  So Erin, this could have been you.  Instead, your “after” story is one of success, good nutrition, and healthy and healthful exercise.  My best to you.

    • Oh my gosh, Eastern, the story of your brother is a heart-breaker, and one of the most sobering cautionary tales I’ve ever heard.

      He sounded like an artistic soul, and it’s truly a tragedy his life was cut short because of his weight.

      I am so sorry for the way his life turned out, and for your loss.

      I think you hit the nail on the head, and that’s that your brother thought he could succeed on his own. Sometimes, I think guys are conditioned to think it’s not manly to get help, which is why men are often the minority in Weight Watchers meetings.

      But I think it’s the greatest show of strength to admit there’s a problem, and we can’t solve it alone.

      I thank you for sharing this painful, personal story to illustrate such a sad, unhealthy trajectory that ended with his death.


  4. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    The tortilla and hot sauce diet, LOL.

  5. Avatar Ginny says:

    Bless you for changing your life!  ;o)


  6. Avatar DeeDee Mercurio says:

    Great story and so thankful I found Matthew too! He truly is an inspiration to us all!

  7. Avatar Cynthia Turbin says:

    Hi Erin.  I’m so glad that some of our exercise time slots coincide.  You are an inspiration to me.  You are so dedicated to your goal and you work so hard.  It makes me want to work harder too.  We may not always hear how we might affect others, but your dedication affects many people.  Keep up the good work.

  8. Avatar Matthew R Lister says:

    Hahaha. All of my favorite people in the world in one place! I love this! Hahaha. Love you all so much and can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together. This is a team effort baby. I love it.

  9. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:

    I am so impressed by this interview Doni and Erin, and the responses of anewscafe readers.  I applaud you Erin for deciding to get help in this journey…I’m one of those “I can do it on my own” people who is starting to lose faith with this notion of mine after reading this interview.  Excellent article.


    • I am one of those do-it-on-my-own people, too, with the exception of this particular area of my life (well, and a few others). There’s no shame in getting help, whether it’s for weight loss, fitness or anything else.


  10. Avatar Dina says:

    Way to go Erin!! I think about you once in a while and I am sooooo glad you are doing well. Keep it up!