The Authentic Guy - Dan Reilly
My name is Dan Reilly. I’m a financial professional, fitness & nutrition fanatic, a survivor, and an aspiring NASM Health and Wellness Coach. My purpose is sharing my own transformational story with others to inspire them to take positive steps in achieving wellness. My mission is focused on coaching people who are “feeling stuck” and want to make positive changes to improve or optimize their own health. I specialize in working with busy adults to set and attain goals to lose weight, lower risk of heart disease, increase energy levels and improve their overall quality of life. I also promote environmental health through volunteering and partnering with several local non-profit organizations focused on restoration and conservation.
Top Gear Coach - Tell me about someone who had a big impact on you as a young man.
Dan - I was born in New Jersey to a hard-working Irish-American father and an Italian-American mother. When I was only 6 months old, I lost my mom due to an illness. She was 22 years old. My father and family members played an important role, giving me a sense of love I needed growing up. My mother’s father, Mickey, a WW II veteran was a real-life hero who was the unbreakable foundation that kept our family together through so many trials. What I learned from him was, resiliency, patience, giving, and strength. I had the honor of caregiving for my grandfather for 5 years before he quietly passed in 2012. I have been fortunate to have several great mentors, teachers, coaches, and loved ones that have been impactful throughout my life.
Top Gear Coach - Tell me about a major setback you had in life and how you rebounded from it.
Dan - I experienced a number of serious setbacks in my 40’s that happened close together. It was a trying and challenging time for me. I experienced the death of loved ones, divorce, unemployment, financial loss, and diagnosis of several chronic diseases that were adversely affecting my health and well-being.
Life has taught me three important lessons about myself through these setbacks.
I am strong - I experienced huge stress and lost plenty of sleep, but none of it killed me.
I own my life - I learned to accept responsibility where I could. It was hard but gratifying.
I have the power to change – My focus shifted to looking inward and understanding, I can only control myself. I learned to let go of everything else and make my health and wellness a priority.
Top Gear Coach - Tell me something about yourself or an experience you had that most people are not aware of but would likely be useful or interesting to others?
Dan - My personal story of transformation began with the goal to lose weight, and ultimately led me on a journey of self-discovery and restoration to wellness. I was morbidly obese and diagnosed with COPD. I learned this after passing out at the dinner table one night and landing in the hospital. This was my big wake up call to make changes. In the past, if I exercised, I was only focused on a physical fitness goal. That mindset made it too easy to quit in the early days when I wasn’t seeing results immediately. Bit-by-bit I had given up on myself without noticing.
My quest for physical fitness has given me something more. Physical training allowed me to try new things and fail – safely. Not only was I building up my physical strength, I was developing my capacity to handle life. I realized what I really wanted was to be the best version of myself and help others do the same. Physical fitness made me fall in love with life again. It gave me a starting point to overcome the most challenging obstacle of all – loving myself. It gave me a starting point to help others overcome the same challenges.
I have lost 70 pounds on this journey and am in the best shape ever. Most importantly, I have more energy for life. The positive shift in my mind set and spirit has been remarkable. I rediscovered what it was like to live and embrace life with a true sense of purpose and joy.
Top Gear Coach - If you had to choose just one word to describe yourself, what would it be? Why?
Dan - The ancient Greeks had a word that represented the very essence of “happiness” or “the pursuit of excellence” – the word is ARETE. It’s a concept thought to be of the highest quality of everything you do. It’s about living up to one’s full potential. It’s about continuously evolving in mind, body, and spirit. ARETE kept me going when I wanted to give up. It still does. It means being the best person you can become. It is your ultimate self. The Army has a similar saying. “Be All you Can Be”.
After I went through my own trials, I decided to pursue a better version of myself than I had been before and because of that, I am now a better father, a better friend, a better spouse, and a better listener. Now, everything I do, no matter how small – whether planning a meal or spending time with loved ones – I do with a commitment to excellence.