Meet Jasper, a 30-year-old sports teacher (and basketball coach) living in the Netherlands. At the start of Jasper’s hero’s journey, he found himself in a place many Rebels can relate to:
Jasper wasn’t hundreds of pounds overweight, but he certainly wouldn’t describe himself as active or in shape.
He was just sort of… stuck. Stuck with a bad back from ignoring a problem for several years. Stuck avoiding everyday activities, and constantly making excuses. Stuck feeling lazy and never really knowing where to get the motivation or a plan to make a change.
And the most relatable part? He let one setback, one barrier in his life slowly become an excuse to live a sedentary existence. For Jasper, that was his back.
Everybody knew I had ‘a bad back’. I was in bad shape, because of my back. Coach, you want to play? Hmm… I’d better not. Carrying groceries? Careful! Run up the stairs? Better not! My best friend jokingly referred to me as an “old man.”
But enough was enough – after doing some research Jasper found the Nerd Fitness Academy, and was thrown into a pre-designed plan. He built momentum, found workouts he loved, and all of a sudden what seemed like an endless climb to the top of a mountain felt different. Instead he had the momentum he needed and found his groove, his path to a leveled up life.
Let’s hear from Jasper about how exactly he did it.
Steve: Thanks for being an inspiration for the Rebellion brother! So, let’s start from the beginning: tell me about the old you.
A typical day started with me taking a hot shower to help with the stiffness in my back after waking up. Maybe a painkiller, maybe not. Breakfast? Meh. Coffee and sugar. Then, off to work to teach some classes, making sure I move carefully to not strain my back and also not sit too long to have it stiff up again. I taught basketball at nights, and then came home. In the evenings I would fix up some food and play some video games until my wife came home from practice (she played professional basketball), and then we’d play a board game or watch a movie before bed. No exercise or intention to eat healthy – I didn’t even participate in my classes!
Steve: So, tell me about the moment you decided to make a change.
It just got to be too much. I was too much out of shape to take myself seriously as a role model for the kids I worked with. Just a few too many jokes from friends about my back, my weight or ‘what could have been.’ Too many conversations had “And how’s your back?” in them. Too many “you shouldn’t do this with your back and all.” Most of all, I was fed up. I did not like the version of myself I saw in the mirror.
I was casually surfing the web to see what this “crossfit hype” was about when I stumbled onto Nerdfitness.com. Steve’s story resonated so much with me, that I instantly signed up for the NF Academy and decided then and there that this was it: time for change.
Steve: Awesome man, glad we were a part of your journey back to the light side. So, tell me about your exercise strategy.
Smaaaall steps. I jumped into the Academy’s pre-built workouts and progression scheme right away. First, I remember the Academy’s “Recruit Workout” kicked my ass. Then, I started at Bodyweight Brigade level 1 and did a LOT of home workouts. I tried to keep them challenging and adding/scaling things myself. I was committed to 3x a week.
Steve: What about after the NF Academy? Where has your journey taken you today?
When I got out of my comfort zone and asked a friend to teach me how to do some proper weightlifting, I did one heavy workout at the gym and two NF home workouts each week. Then, I joined a local unofficial crossfit gym and went there 3,4 times a week.
Since August of 2015, my wife and I are working out at Crossfit Ninja’s (The Hague) anywhere between 3 and 6 times a week, where 3 times is the minimum. It’s crazy fun and very motivating, and I love crushing PR’s left and right.
Oh, and did I mention? No back pain!!
Steve: That’s awesome! As one with back issues myself, I know it can be tremendously rewarding to slay a dragon you thought would haunt you forever. So what about your diet – did you follow the Academy philosophy there too?
I started at step 1 in the Academy’s nutrition module and decided to see it through. I just gave it a chance and I am very, very happy I did.
The whole “nutrition is 90% of the equation” is just 100% true. The “Never twice in a row” and “no cheat days but conscious decisions” are habits for us now. We did research the whole Paleo philosophy (Rebellion rule: we question everything!), and while we didn’t adopt it fully, we did incorporate some major aspects of the lifestyle: No sugar, low carbs, all real foods. It’s like you reinvent eating for yourself and I love it.
Steve: It sounds like you really get it – once we accept that we need to change just a few things, everything seems to fall effortlessly into place. So, how did you track your progress? How often did you weigh yourself? Did you take any other measurements?
I started late October and decided to give this ‘program’ a real shot until my 30th birthday (March). I planned to measure and weigh myself at Christmas as a checkpoint. With the Academy community (Battle Log and the great responses I got there), I couldn’t help weighing in earlier and measuring sooner. So eventually, every month I did the measurements and pictures, for three months.
All the support we had going on in the NF community groups were a great platform to vent. The incredible results and the community did all the motivating I needed to keep going.
Steve: It’s so true that when you surround yourself with people who push you forward, you slowly become the average of your awesome friends. Was there a mindset shift that really helped you succeed?
Deciding I wasn’t going to be a victim anymore. I really feel that mental switch got me in the direction I wanted to go. From then on, all I had to do was keep going.
Steve: Sounds like my realization that we need to take personal responsibility, no matter how bad of a hand life seemed to have dealt us. So, other than the community, did you have any other support system in place?
Well, first: my wife. I consider myself very blessed to have her in my life. Me actively becoming the fittest version of myself did great things for our relationship. As far as the Academy, we started a Whatsapp group, a 24/7 accountability group in a chat application on your phone. That was great fun. Other than that, it was all a matter of putting in the effort yourself. If you took the time and effort to support fellow rebels and be an active member; you’d be surprised at the support you receive. Hell, one conversation through the Academy actually lead to a fellow Rebel flying in to visit us! (This was John from Scotland; he and I are very good friends now!)
Steve: That’s awesome. I know thousands of people across the world have found friends in our remote corner of the internet – friends who help push us forward and keep us going. So, what made this time different? Had you tried getting healthy before?
Many, many times. And many, many times did I fail. I’d stick with working out or playing basketball again until it hurt. Then, the conclusion was always the same: I just can’t. Not with my back. Biggest difference: nutrition and small steps.
Steve: Give some advice to all those reading your story right now – what’s one thing you would tell someone who has failed but thinks they are ready to try again?
Give it a real chance: give it one year. Give it three months. Hell, give it ten weeks. Pick a time frame and stick to it. If someone has advice, thank them for it and then keep doing what you’re doing. Also: share! Share what you are doing. You’ll find there are two types of people: supporting people (“good for you!”) and motivating people (“you’ll never make it”).
Steve: I love the idea of thinking of haters as motivating people. Turning what seems to be a negative into a force that only makes you stronger. That’s some superhero stuff right there. So, what’s next for you?
My wife and I just got our visa approved to move to the United States. We’ve started a company called Freestyle Sports in Austin, Texas. We teach soccer and basketball to kids through creativity and fun. It’s a longtime dream of ours and we’re working hard to make it happen. Plus… both of us have entered The CrossFit Games Open for the first time. Yikes!
Steve: It sounds like you guys are on an upward spiral to awesome. Does life feel different now?
Totally – living an active life and not worrying about my physical capabilities anymore has been transformative. One year ago I would really hurt myself if I ran up a set of stairs. Last month, I deadlifted 330 lbs! Being able to just move freely is very exciting. Getting stronger every single day is absolutely amazing.
I feel like I took control of my life, physically. When I’m working with the kids, I feel like a superhero.
Steve: Okay, on to the all-important nerd cred: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
lt’s a tough one, but I have to say Lord of the Rings. Just because I prefer fantasy over science fiction.
Steve: Jason Bourne or James Bond?
Jason Bourne. I feel like James Bond has no issues whatsoever. That gets old fast.
Steve: Favorite video game of all time?
NBA 2k. No, Hearthstone! Or maybe Super Mario World! How about Mass Effect? Ooh, Skyrim! Ugh… Next!
Steve: Do you have any nerdy passions or pursuits?
I am fascinated by the concept of “play”, be it in games or sports. I play tons of board games, yet it was only recently that fellow rebel John showed me Dungeons & Dragons and I am loving that very much at the moment.
Steve: Tell us something interesting about you!
I’m a two-time National Champion in Freestyle Basketball. Basically, I do basketball tricks. In my clinics, I mix my love of basketball with motivational speaking, music, humour and show. I would love to do a basketball clinic at Camp Nerd Fitness someday!
Why Jasper Was Successful
Jasper could have spent the next 30+ years of his life consumed by an excuse – his back. Many of us find ourselves in these situations every day: We can’t workout or adopt a better diet – impossible! We have kids, an injury, or are just too busy.
The difference is Jasper said enough is enough, and put a real plan in place to make sure he succeeded this time.
Success requires the motivation to make a change, and smart systems to make sure you actually follow through. Without the motivation you never get started, and without the systems you fail and fail again. Let’s take a look at how Jasper finally broke through and cracked the code:
He called himself on his own BS, and cut off the source of his apathy: Without this key step, Jasper never decides he needs to learn more about getting healthy, he never finds the NF Academy or learns about his love of Crossfit. When we buy into their power, excuses don’t feel like excuses – they feel like legitimate reasons we can’t do something. But once we look at them more closely and really call ourselves out on our own BS, excuses transform into obstacles to overcome, no longer a jail to hold us in for our whole lives.
Small changes: Jasper says small changes were the key to his success – not trying to transform his diet overnight or jump into crazy workouts. Instead, he adopted the NF Academy mindset of slowly transforming the person you are. When Jasper made a change, it wasn’t a part of a two-week diet or six-week workout plan. He was making changes that were permanent – changes that were just “who he was now.” When we approach our quest of getting healthy like this, instead of like a temporary fix, a huge burden comes off our shoulders. We no longer look and long for the finish line, but just go about getting sh*$ done. It becomes an automatic part of who we are, not a constant, daily struggle of eating better and forcing ourselves to be active.
Jasper found something he loved: Jasper used the Academy workouts to introduce him to strength training, sort of like leveling up before choosing your specialty class. Once he discovered he loved barbell and high intensity workouts, he learned more about Crossfit and discovered he loved it! Workouts no longer became a thing to be avoided, but something to look forward to!
This allowed him to turn momentum to his side. By just doing what he found fun and natural, he was improving himself every week and making small progress towards his goals. If you think exercise sounds miserable, it’s time to find something you enjoy doing. Not sure where to look? Here are some ideas.
Diet, diet, diet: If you’ve been reading Nerd Fitness for a while, it may feel like we’re beating a dead horse by now, but we have to say it every time because it’s TRUE every time: Jasper made sure to put an emphasis on his diet. Yep – just like every other success story, you HAVE to be aware what you are putting in your body and make intentional changes. Working out more while ignoring how you fuel your body just doesn’t work.
If you’ve tried this strategy in the past, try something different. Start with one small change, like dropping one soda from your week or removing one candy indulgence. It doesn’t have to be huge, but you do need to start thinking about your diet instead of ignoring it because it feels like too much work.
Support and community: Simply put, Jasper had cheerleaders all around him. In the Academy he found a group of friends who he not only shared his progress with on a regular basis, but they even created a separate group to keep each other accountable 24/7. At home his wife not only supported him on his own path, but was walking a similar path of her own!
When you have people who are pulling you up instead of holding you down, it can feel like your character goes from having weights around his feet to being armed with the best armor in the realm. Suddenly, everything is a little bit easier, and when you find yourself stuck or unmotivated, you aren’t alone.
Life is a multiplayer game, and when we don’t realize how the people around us affect us, we can find ourselves being pulled back to status quo without realizing it. If you don’t have anyone in your life who can help you on this path, don’t fret! We have a community of tens of thousands of people from all backgrounds who are in need of a team just like you.
Be Like Jasper
Jasper transformed himself from a sedentary, out of shape dude to a ripped hero at the center of his own story. What’s more, these diet and exercise changes often can be the catalyst we need to make other changes our lives: Jasper and his wife are moving to the U.S. to start a business, Freestyle Sports, checking off epic quest item.
Whether you have 200 lbs to lose or 20, making the first step and figuring out how to break out of your static life can feel like an impossible quest. Millions upon millions of people across the country and world are struggling to figure out how to get started and how to actually follow through.
Jasper’s story shows us that if we can summon a moment of inspiration and put the right systems in place, getting healthy doesn’t have to be the awful, painful, every-day struggle that we have imagined in our heads.
Instead, it can be a process of triumph over challenges and of built-in inspiration and progress.
Jasper used the Academy to make sure he was on a path that took him where he needed to go. We have workouts and a nutrition plan that take you through, step by step, how to make changes that last.
But if you’re not ready for a commitment like that, there are all sorts of free resources right here on NerdFitness.com – check out our beginner bodyweight workout, our guide to eating healthy, and learn how to build habits that stick.
Whether you use the Academy to get healthy or use our free resources, thanks for being here. We’re all in this journey for a leveled up life together.
What questions do you have for Jasper?
Stop by the comments section and leave a note of congrats!