January 2014. Jacob weighs nearly 450 pounds.
In 2007 he had a seizure. Medical complications forced him to retire. From 2010-2013 he worked minimum wage jobs to make ends meet. There were dark moments. He felt things would never change. He feared he would never become a contributing member of society.
“I used a little bit of tribulation to come up with a lot of excuses. As the weight packed on the excuses got easier and easier to use”.
In 2014, with his weight reaching its highest point, his life was about to change. “I was blessed to meet an amazing doctor. He was upfront and real without driving me away. The doctor said he had two things to tell me and I could take or leave em’. First, keep coming up with excuses and you won’t live to be forty-five. Second, put this APP on your phone and call me back in a month”. The APP was MyFitness Pal.
For two weeks Jacob logged everything that went into his body. He was eating 9,000-10,000 calories a day. He called the doctor (before a full month had lapsed) and committed to making the necessary changes. “He told me he didn’t want me to change anything at first… I was startled… I trusted him though. The first thing we did was set a calorie goal. No more than 8,000 a day. No exercises at this point because it could result in joint damage at my current weight.” By 2015 Jacob was down to 350 pounds. He could eat whatever he wanted as long as he did not exceed his calorie goal. At this point the doctor added light swimming to the mix and had him continue to follow the calorie goals.
I was curious if there were any dark moments. He said, “Once I started – NO. Dark moments before? YES. I was convinced I would die fat. I think if I had tried to change all at once I would have quit. The obstacle (weight or whatever you may be facing) probably didn’t show up over night. So you can’t go into the battle thinking that it will be short. If it took you 2-3 years to put the weight on (create the obstacle) it will take you 4-5 years to take the weight off (break through the obstacle).”
2016. Jacob weighs in at 275. He discovers fat bikes. Life in his words “is about to get kicked into overdrive.” Initially he was worried people would laugh at and tease him but he found cyclists to be different. “I found a sport that encourages all to be included. I found a group to ride with and continue to ride with to this day. They encouraged me, pushed me. I was never left behind and reached goals I never new I could.”
There was a point at 250 pounds – he considered it might be good enough. But his wife and support system encouraged him to keep going. So he #DTHT and stayed focused on his goal weight of 170 pounds.
In 2013 Jacob was offered a job working with special needs kids. He took it. “I think this was one of the things that helped me change my attitude. I knew I needed to be a better example to the teens I was working with.”
Jacob weighs 170 pounds today. He’s happy. Once standoffish he now has the confidence to talk to anyone. Four years ago Jacob couldn’t walk around the block without having to rest. Earlier this month he completed the 42-mile Polar Roll in just over nine hours. In 2017 he completed his first century, and driven by his newfound confidence, plans to reach more new heights in 2018.
“I think the biggest lesson I learned was that I am capable of more than I thought I was and I can do much more than I gave myself credit for… and that with the right friends you will never be left behind. You’ll reach goals you never knew you had.” – Jacob
As Jacob wrote to me and shared his experience one line stood out.
“I used a little bit of tribulation to come up with a lot of excuses.”
Here’s a guy who had a seizure, medical complications, had to retire and who’s weight was approaching 450 pounds… and he calls it a “little bit of tribulation”. That was all I had to read in order to understand why/how he succeeded in doing something so incredibly hard. He did not place blame. He did not feel bad for himself. He identified his excuses. He found people who could help him and who would support him. I mean… really… Jacob just sounds to me like a dude who finally said “This is enough. Here is what has to happen. No one can do it for me. I have to do it for myself.”
He held himself accountable. He took himself and his mortality seriously.
I wanted to share this story because I know weight is a struggle we all deal with. It is daunting. You move through phases of caring and not caring. It’s hard. Jacob’s story shows with the proper motivation, will, grit and support you can do JUST ABOUT ANYTHING.
We can cripple ourselves by looking for an easy way. Sometimes we look at the options, determine none of them to be desirable, and defer action to the future. The truth is, and Jacob figured it out, all of the options are hard. There is no easy way. There is a just THE WAY. Delaying action prolongs suffering. I hope his story inspires someone. Just one.
Reaching people. One at a time.
Jacob…. thanks for sharing your story.