Johnathan Williams is a 25 year old young man, who lives just north of Reno, Nevada. Upon first glance, he is a nice, polite and also unassuming gentleman. If you were to get to know him better, you would learn that he, like many of us, is a high school graduate, is a manager at a Papa Murphy’s and has great family values. He spends much of his free time reading but also aspiring for a bigger future.
Not that there is anything wrong, or “lesser” about his current lifestyle. He has a job, pays his bills, helps his family and friends at the drop of a hat and would give the shirt off his back to any one he knew needed and deserved it. When we first met, January 13th of this year (2016), he had a goal for himself, and I applaud the bravery he has in having asked for help and for what the goal is. He asked me to get him ready to serve his country as a Marine.
As a prior Marine myself (for lack of a better term, there are no “former” Marines), I was ecstatic to hear of his goals and could not wait to begin working with him. After a lengthy assessment, I saw where his mobility lacked, where strength and stability needed to be worked on, what his physical limitations were and weighed him in at 327.4lbs, and I’ll never forget a second of it.
I knew immediately that we had a lot of work ahead of us. As John is 6’1”, his weight maximum to enlist is 201lbs. He has to be able to do a minimum of 3 strict pull ups, 45 Marine Corps Crunches in 2 minutes and run a 28min 3 mile. With minimal mobility, and a great lack of purpose based physical activity since his high school years, to many other people, the work load would have been daunting and discouraging. To John however, he looked forward to the challenge, and that’s why I know he’ll make a great Marine, if having known nothing else about him.
From day one, he wrote down nearly everything I said in a journal. We put him on a strict nutrition plan, and he agreed with zero complaint. He was required to do nutrition research and mobility homework, and he agreed without complaint. When he was ready, we started to give him ideas of what he could do to add to what we were doing on his days off and he soon requested to up the amount of sessions we were doing every week because we felt he was ready. John asked as many questions as he could about everything we discussed about sleep, movement, nutrition, programming, Marine Corps indoctrination, etc. If something was effecting him, he told me without hesitation and we resolved the issue. Quite simply, he was never afraid of the task or how hard it would be or to ask questions. He knew it would hurt sometimes, he knew there would be days he wouldn’t feel up to it and he knew he had to be his own best motivator, keeping his eye on his first set of goals.
After coming to me twice a week for 6 months and 3 times a week for another 4, he has consistently lost 10lbs a month with zero risk to his health by more extreme and unconventional methods. He is close to his first pull up, can easily do strict push ups from the ground where he could not before, is chopping down on his run times and is improving everywhere else at an exponential rate. All of that I could supervise, but he has been the most accountable for himself on his own time, having only had 2 cheat meals the ENTIRE 10 months. Once, when I told him he had earned it after losing his first 100lbs, where he took 30 minutes to eat a cookie to savor it’s sweetness, and of course on thanksgiving of this year.
He has tirelessly worked for what is important to him and has had the courage to educate himself through his resources and not rely solely on just “being present” or “showing up” to make his dreams come true. We still have quite a ways to go, but the day he gets to his first set of goals is drawing nearer and nearer, and I cannot wait till the day I get to walk him into the recruiting stations for him to learn of his options, because I could not already be prouder of what he has accomplished. Here’s to you John, and may these first steps of your journey aid those to emulate the example you have set for them.