Syracuse, NY native Ronnie Brower has managed to lose 425 pounds in just under two years. Not only is this feat amazing for the amount of weight loss, but it is a testament to Brower’s hard work as he lost the weight through old fashioned exercise and eating well. Two years ago, Brower was faced with news that his weight of almost 700 pounds could mean death before reaching the age of 30. Well Brower just celebrated his 30th birthday, and he did so over 400 pounds lighter, reaching his goal of 250 pounds. Along his journey, Brower often cited Taylor Swift’s songs as his inspiration as he continued to put in long hours at the gym.
Brower’s past high school teacher, Joe Bufano, was a big support during Brower’s weight loss journey. Bufano would encourage Brower’s continued hard work by offering him rewards when he hit certain weight goals, one of which was a life dream to see Taylor Swift in concert. Once Brower reached his goal weight of 250 pounds, Bufano promised him a trip to Swift’s concert in Cleveland, OH. Not only had Brower reached his goal and saved his life, but he would get to see Swift who inspired much of his journey. Brower said of Swift’s music, “her music was a huge part of getting me through my workouts.” These workouts involved long hours of intense work and a seven day a week commitment over the past 24 months.
As Brower’s story began being noticed by many online, Bufano took this opportunity to make a video directed to Swift, pleading for her to meet Brower in person at her Cleveland concert. This video and Brower’s story has since gone viral, making national news. What is it in music that can be so inspiring and motivate a man such as Brower to lose 425 pounds?
Music and the Brain
Numerous studies have highlighted a relation between music and happiness, and further research connects happiness with motivation (Morinville, Miranda, & Gaudreau, 2013). Music with the combination of rhythm and lyrics activates emotional parts of the brain. A surge of emotion can fuel a person to take action and push forward toward a goal. The activation of such emotion through music also can help people in states of sadness or depression, often a state of mind that hinders motivation. Music’s power to connect with emotions in the brain gives a lot of influence to popular singers and song writers. Taylor Swift’s songs became a source of meaning for Brower, that meaning activated his sense of motivation during the hardest workouts. There is also something to say for the connection between Swift’s songs and exercising that Brower was able to establish in maintaing a routine in his daily workouts.
Music and Exercise
Not only is music highly associated with emotional responses, music if often studied in association with physical performance in exercise and sports. The rhythmic patterns to music can help people to remain consistent with certain exercise motions, with certain beats encouraging more intensity during exercise. However, it is not just the rhythm that keeps a person moving during exercise, lyrics also lend to inspiration during working out. When a person feels connected to the meaning of lyrics, an emotional responses in the brain triggers a sense of inspiration to work harder with each motion and exercise. Brower associated positive feelings with Swift’s songs, which also has been shown to alter a person’s attitude towards exercise. Research has demonstrated music deemed enjoyable by a person helped to increase their affect while working out, in addition to lending to a positive attitude about the exercising process (Elliot, Carr, & Orme, 2005).
Brower had both meaning and rhythm with Swift’s songs, plus the connection made between those particular songs and the gym ensured his body knew it was time to sweat. As Brower’s story reaches the hearts of many, it has become one of inspiration. The chain of inspiration created through Swift’s songs and Brower’s weight loss has seemed to have a ripple effect as others have posted articles or videos sharing their own weight loss journey. As Brower maintained his determination, Swift seems to have played a vital role along the most difficult days.
As Bufano’s video gets spread around, and Brower’s story is heard, the hope is that Swift will acknowledge Brower’s unbelievable transformation and will power to save his life. However, it seems as though even if Brower does not get to meet Swift, the chain of motivation in Swift’s music motivating Brower’s weight loss will continue to inspire others. Brower shared on social media, “Even if Taylor Swift doesn’t want to meet me I am still inspiring millions of people now!”
Brichs, J. (2015). Man Drops 400 Pounds With the Help of Taylor Swift. Yahoo News. Retrieved from https://www.yahoo.com/health/man-drops-400-pounds-with-the-help-of-taylor-swift-119277183832.html
Elliott, D., Carr, S., & Orme, D. (2005). The effect of motivational music on sub-maximal exercise. European Journal of Sport Science, 5(2), 97-106.
Morinville, A., Miranda, D., & Gaudreau, P. (2013). Music listening motivation is associated with global happiness in Canadian late adolescents. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 7(4), 384.