Jason shares with Men’s Health how he found the motivation to keep pursuing his health and fitness goals, even after several serious injuries.
At my heaviest, I weighed 317 pounds. The biggest contributing factor to my weight was working a stressful full-time job, as well as having a part-time job on top of that. I was frequently on the go for work, eating fast food or carryout for breakfast and lunch more days than not. I also drank limited water. During the day it was coffee and Diet Coke, then every evening when I got home it was nothing but beer until I fell asleep. I got complacent with my life, and at my size, I did not do much of any activity.
During the years of 2015 and 2016, my resting pulse was always at or over 100. I remember being so scared one time, I was just standing at work and my heart was pounding, like it could not pump fast enough. I went to the ER from work and my heart rate was out of control. That’s when I also found out I had high blood pressure and was put on medication. Because of this I had to start seeing a cardiologist too. This was all in my mid-thirties. During that time period there were three trips total to the ER and at least one to urgent care for EKGs because of the same issue. I knew I had to make changes, and I would get serious when I had a health scare.
I did all the right things—limited alcohol and ate right—but it was all short lived. I would go back to my old habits after about a week or two, and it would take months to get back on track. Food and beer just seemed to take priority in life until I would have another health scare, and the cycle continued until I joined WW for New Years in 2017.
When I joined WW I specifically changed my diet. I began doing all the grocery shopping and preparing all meals for my family, even if I had to prepare myself something separate. I would track everything that I ate to ensure it was accounted for on my app. I lost about 70 pounds on WW just by tracking my food intake.
I then began exercising in September of 2018. I didn’t tell anyone I joined the gym, because I joined gyms before and never used the membership. I started with just cardio, building onto the workouts each month. I told myself I needed to go three times a week at least, and I followed through with that goal and bumped that up to five times a week. I just got to the point where I felt better if I was exercising and moving.
I lost a total of 114 pounds. Then, in 2019, I broke my neck and ended up wearing a brace, unable to exercise, for several months. During this time, I was so scared to gain weight among a million other things. Fortunately, I did not gain weight during this time. I tracked everything, every bite, every ounce, every sip to ensure I stayed within my points. After being cleared to return to the gym, I slowly started to incorporate cardio and strength training once again. Once I started the strength training again my shoulder began hurting. I would push through the pain, but later found out that I had an AC separation. This was just all prior to the pandemic starting. I did a few months of physical therapy, and when gyms re-opened, I joined a private personal training studio to continue with strength training but with direction to avoid further injuries.
My family was a huge motivating factor in my journey. I work so hard professionally to ensure my family is provided for, and losing weight was necessary because I did not want to leave my wife a widow and my children without a father. I would ask myself what their life would be like if I were dead, especially because of health issues. I didn’t like those thoughts. I did not want to leave my family sad because of my inability to change my habits. I knew I needed to set an example, especially as my children got older.
Those injuries could have left me dead or paralyzed but I am here working out, running, trying to enjoy life. Those injuries keep me going because this is my second chance and I don’t want to blow it. My life could have been very different, so I owe it to myself to stay active and healthy.
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues.
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