Random online match helps man lose nearly 400 pounds

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Story highlights

Brian Flemming weighed 625 pounds

A new friend inspired him to stop drinking

Within two years, he dropped nearly 400 pounds

"She saved my life," he said

CNN  — 

Inspiration can come from unlikely places. Brian Flemming found the will to change his life in a drawing game.

Flemming was addicted to alcohol, severely morbidly obese and full of self-pity when he met Jackie Eastham through a random match on Draw Something, the Pictionary-like mobile game. It was the spring of 2012. Most nights Flemming drank around a fifth of vodka mixed with a liter of soda while he zoned out in front of the TV.

The last time he had been weighed, on a special scale at the hospital, he was 625 pounds.

Eastham lived in England and was 20 years Flemming’s senior. At first, the players shared casual banter between rounds. Their friendship eventually moved to Facebook, where they began to confide in each other.

Flemming was at a low point. Besides being an alcoholic and morbidly obese, he was pre-diabetic and had a recurring cellulitis infection.

Eastham was the first person he was totally honest with – no one in his life knew about the drinking. He expected sympathy.

But she wasn’t having it.

“She said there were people struggling for their lives and then there’s you – you have all these opportunities and you’re throwing it all away,” said Flemming, 32, now a business relations representative and part-time music teacher in Canton, Michigan.

It was personal for Eastham, who lives with myotonic dystrophy, an inherited type of muscular dystrophy that causes progressive muscle weakness and can affect various systems and organs. Her symptoms have been relatively mild so far, but she never takes her health for granted.

“I just thought bloody hell, you’re a guy who’s 30 … and you’re wasting your life,” she said, remembering how she felt as the recipient of his drunken, maudlin messages. “My future is a lot gloomier. I’m trying to make the brightest future I can, and … you’re dragging yourself down.”

It was the wake-up call Flemming needed. He’d show her he could change. That day – October 13, 2012 – he vowed to quit drinking cold turkey.