Township man survives heart attack after months of weight loss

by Conner Howard | reporter Published:

TWINSBURG TOWNSHIP -- At 40 years old in spring 2012, Scott Justice weighed 258 pounds and was feeling the impacts of obesity. Staircases left him winded and he could barely keep up with his young daughter. A five-month transformation left him in a condition to withstand a heart attack that may have otherwise taken his life.

"My weight had become an issue both psychologically and emotionally and quite frankly, with my health," Justice said. "My doctor and some friends of mine had been after me to lose some weight."

While taking his daughter out for a haircut at Hudson's First and Main shopping district, Justice noticed the nearby Fitness Together facility and decided to give them a call, eventually joining the gym March 19.

"I don't know, something about the place, something about the brochure … I kind of liked how they planned things out," Justice said. "I had not been actively looking, but it had been in the back of my mind for a while that I needed to do something."

Michael Hall, co-owner and trainer at Fitness Together of Hudson, said Justice showed the kind of drive and work ethic needed to make a significant life change.

"We ramped him up pretty quick," Hall said. "We hit the ground running with him and [Justice] was a dream client. He did everything we told him to do. He just became a fat-burning machine and the transformation was incredible."

Justice said Hall and the Fitness Together team made him feel right at home with a welcoming and helpful attitude.

"They seemed to be a team that was dedicated to helping me achieve my weight loss goal," Justice said. "I know that sounds kind of cliched, but that's the truth. They didn't judge me. I really left there thinking that these people really wanted to help me achieve a weight loss goal."

Results were soon to follow, when Justice reached his target weight of 195 pounds in August. After five months of exercising both at Fitness Together and on his own time, Justice weighed 187 pounds, down from his original 258. Justice and his trainers were shocked when these results were followed by a coronary episode.

The episode took place over the course of three days in late August, at first mistaken by Justice as simple chest pain or heartburn. The team at Fitness Together advised him to see a doctor, which led to the diagnosis of a minor heart attack. Justice said he was appalled that such a thing could happen when he was getting into the best shape of his life.

"It's hard to put it into words," Justice said. "About the time that I started to reach those goals and was actually starting to feel pretty good about myself, I had a heart attack. The doctors were quite amazed at how well my heart stood up to the attacks. There was some damage done, but it stood up pretty well. They credited the weight loss and the conditioning that I had received. If I hadn't lost that weight, it could have been a much worse situation."

Justice received a stint surgery for his heart and was placed on physical therapy in the fall 2012. However, it was only a matter of weeks before he was back at Fitness Together, completing his physical therapy and returning to his exercise regimen.

"I was out for a few weeks, maybe two or three weeks," Justice said. "We started cardio rehab and shortly thereafter I went back to Fitness Together and started strength training again. To be honest, I think I'm in better cardiovascular shape now than I was before my heart attack."

"This guy was back at it," Hall said of Justice's recovery. Doctors "gave us a couple of weeks to monitor a few things and then they gave us the green light. He's back on track."

With more than 60 pounds shed and a cardiac episode behind him, Justice said he now enjoys running in his free time and hopes to take part in the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon in May 2013. Justice credits the Hudson Fitness Together team for his success.

"Those guys really came together to help me," Justice said. "They did more than just give me fitness advice. They were my friends. If it hadn't been for their encouragement, I'm not sure I would have been able to be as successful as I have been."

"It's cool for us … we feel like we actually took part in saving this guy's life," Hall said. "That's one of the reasons why we got into this [business]."

Justice said his outlook on life has changed for the better following his intense transformation. By defeating self doubt and years of unhealthy habits, he said both his fitness and mood have improved dramatically.

"I feel tons better," Justice said. "I have more energy, I have a lot more confidence in myself. It gives me a sense of pride, because honestly, I didn't think I could do it."

Email: choward@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9423

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