Apologies in advance if her story makes you cry.
But don’t worry, it’s not the ugly crying from watching Inside Out or Toy Story 3. The inspiring kind of crying that makes you go “there’s hope for humanity yet!”
I met Jaime in person at one of our big events we’ve done in the past, Camp Nerd Fitness, and I remember two things specifically: she was very nice, and very shy 🙂
Little did I know that event would be the “radioactive spider” that bit Jaime and gave her permission to transform herself into a real life superhero.
I’m proud to say that Jaime is a member of our Nerd Fitness Academy, but I guarantee this story is full of information you can start to implement TODAY.
HOW JAIME LOST 135 POUNDS AND CHANGED HER LIFE
STEVE: Jaime! Holy crap you have changed since we met in 2016! We’ll get to all the good stuff shortly, but I want to start by painting the picture of who you were before. Tell me your origin story!
JAIME: I have struggled with my weight my entire life.
I was an overweight kid, enough so I went with my mom to Weight Watchers when I was 10.
If I wasn’t trying to lose weight then I was gaining weight: I’d lose 50 – 80 lbs and then gain it all back.
My highest recorded weight was 330lbs.
I was pre-diabetic, on medication for high blood pressure, had pain in my hips, back and knees and was generally miserably unhappy.
STEVE: Thanks for sharing that with us: it’s amazing how childhood experiences can impact our lives for decades after. For you, it sounded like 3+ decades of struggle – what was a typical day like for you before you changed?
JAIME: I would hit snooze about a million times before getting up at 4:15am so that I could catch the bus into the city.
Usually my only exercise would be walking to and from the train station. I would visit the cafe across the street from my office and get a pretty large breakfast.
At work, anytime I would get up from my desk I would have pain in my hips. If I took the stairs to deliver anything to a coworker my knees would protest.
I was also living off Diet Mountain Dew.
For lunch I would go out to Moe’s Southwest Grill at least three days a week: a burrito bowl with extra meat and a bag of tortilla chips.
I would also snack at work, because they were everywhere: candy, chips or granola bars.
When I got home, I would eat dinner and then just sit on the sofa, playing on my iPad, or scrolling Facebook over and over. Then I’d sneak off to my room with some candy or ice cream.
I’d stay up way too late and then do the same thing the next day.
STEVE: We’re creatures of habit, and it sounds like you managed to find yourself stuck in an unhealthy, but comfortable rut. So what changed?
JAIME: I actually found Nerd Fitness back in 2012; I would read the emails, and I think I tried doing Paleo a few times, and it just didn’t stick for me.
(Steve’s note: it doesn’t stick for most people! Here’s why…)
I remember giving the free workouts a try but honestly at my size (330 lbs), just the warm-up was a workout. I’d be so sore that I would end up skipping the next workout and then give up.
I was still collecting underpants: gathering more and more information without taking action yet.
I eventually joined the NF Academy in January 2014, but didn’t do much with it for close to two years.
But I kept reading. And waiting.
And then I saw the announcement for Camp Nerd Fitness, an in-person long-weekend event taking place just up the road from where I lived! I wanted to go so badly but consistently talked myself out of it. I thought I was probably too big to go, and definitely not fit enough.
So I skipped the first two years, and finally, when it came to the 3rd Camp NF in 2016, I used 20 seconds of courage and signed up.
I knew that motivation was going to be high when I got back from Camp so I went and signed up for a gym membership, trainer and everything.
STEVE: So what happened at Camp NF, and what happened after?
JAIME: I really loved Camp NF.
I consider it the beginning of my transformation.
I spent the majority of my time in the mindset classes, which I knew I needed help with before I could fix my body. I tried yoga and BJJ, but was so sore and tired that I was passed out in my bunk before anyone else.
After returning from Camp, I set out to implement as many of the lessons I had learned.
To start, I got more involved in the private Academy Facebook group and the Camp Nerd Fitness group. I even started checking off some quests in the Academy!
As for my nutrition, I began by trying to eat the same healthy foods I enjoyed eating at camp: veggies, meat, fruit, and healthy carbs. I wasn’t tracking or logging anything to start, because I knew that would overwhelm me.
Next, I addressed my breakfast: I used to go to a little cafe across the street from my office and get breakfast, so I started swapping my old breakfast (eggs, bacon, a big pile of potatoes and a biscuit) for a lower calorie Veggie omelette. I eventually quit going all together and started packing my own breakfast and lunch and healthy snacks!
After I conquered and solidified those changes, I started logging my food so that I had a better grasp on how many calories I was consuming every day. I had logged in the past and always had success with it, and this time, it actually stuck.
As far as training after Camp, I used the Camp motivation to start working with a coach, twice a week. I ran into some issues when pushing myself TOO hard with weight training, so we backed things way off and switched to more of a bodyweight training approach. After that, I incorporated about 30 minutes of cardio on my off days.
STEVE: You told us about what life used to be like…What’s a typical day like for you NOW?
JAIME: I now get up at 3:30am without snoozing (thanks sunrise alarm clock!). I also make my bed to give me some momentum.
I’m at the gym by 4:30AM, which is great because there’s nobody there.
I then head to bus stop and head into work. I bring my breakfast, lunch, and snacks with me so I’m not tempted to buy unhealthy foods.
I’ll try to take a short walk during lunch, weather permitting.
After work, I don’t spend nearly as much time sitting on the couch. I make sure to repack my gym bag for the next day, which takes all of 5 minutes.
Before bed I’ll review how my day went, look at my schedule for the next day, and decide how I want to spend the little bits of free time: it’s usually either reading or studying.
For the most part I am happier. I feel more confident in certain situations. I’m off blood pressure meds, and I’m no longer prediabetic. No more pain in my hips when I get up from my desk…unless I killed my legs at the gym!
STEVE: I love this: building systems, packing your bag the day before, reviewing your day and planning the next one. This is a leveled-up life for sure!
I know you’ve been a moderately active member of our private online communities – it’s how I found out about your success! What do the NF Academy and Camp NF communities mean to you?
JAIME: I think the communities are worth the price of admission on their own, even if you don’t follow the workouts or fully utilize all the Academy has to offer.
They are some of the best places on Facebook.
I’m mostly a lurker, but I’ve always considered both groups a safe place to go for advice and support.
There’s also a “100+ lbs to lose” Academy subgroup which has become very active recently – I’m trying to keep the positive momentum with a July challenge.
STEVE: Thank you for stepping up and leading that charge, Jaime. It’s really great to see and we are lucky to have you in the Rebellion!
Okay, so it’s Outsiders Month here at Nerd Fitness – what sort of things are you doing now that you never would have done in the past?
JAIME: In February 2017, I signed up for a Spartan Race in DC on September 9th with a bunch of other NF Rebels I had met at Camp and in the Academy (including NF’s lead Coach of our 1-on-1 coaching program, Jim Bathurst).
I made the mistake of signing up first and watching YouTube videos after – I was scared but I’m so glad I signed up.
To prepare for that race, I also signed up for the Triple Peach, which is the Peachtree Road race (10K), PNC 10 Miler, and The Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon:
I was able to do each of those races and by the time the Spartan rolled around I was down 120lbs. The Spartan Race was so much fun!!! I was crazy nervous but once I got myself over that first wall, it was on! I did so many things that I never thought I would be able to do.
As far as other activities I’m now able to do…
I can hang from my arms, no pull-ups yet but I’m working on it. I went rafting in a two man kayak, I tried indoor rock climbing, and I was able to easily fit in all the rides at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter…so magical 🙂
STEVE You’ve changed dramatically. I also know this is a lifelong journey, and old mindsets are really tough to overcome. What do you still struggle with?
JAIME: I struggle with letting myself be “done” with losing weight. The excess skin left over from being heavy for so long distorts how I see myself sometimes. It makes me feel “fat” and that voice in my head tells me that maybe I should lose a little more.
I know this is just my mind playing tricks, so I don’t listen to it.
Thanks to the Nerd Fitness article on meditation, I’ve been working on meditation and my mindset since December 2016. Thanks Headspace! The biggest difference is that I feel that much of the internal struggle I used to have with myself over food is gone.
I used to get to a point in every previous weight loss attempt where I just couldn’t fight with myself anymore and that is when the backsliding would start. Now, if a craving pops up it isn’t something that I feel I have to immediately act on, I have some space to make a decision.
The unexpected struggle: who am I as this new, fit, healthy person? I’m 40 and at a healthy weight for the first time in my life. The world treats me differently and I’m trying to learn how to be. I find that I’m still trying to act invisible, head down, no eye contact.
There is also a good bit of fear of gaining it all back. I did start Therapy in February and I do feel more comfortable in my new skin. There is less fear because I know I have the tools I need.
STEVE: Jaime, that’s incredible. Mental health is so important and I know this is a huge step for you, I’m really glad you’re taking the time to work on yourself that way too. So this is amazing.
So inquiring rebels want to know: what’s next for you?
JAIME: I recently got certified as a personal trainer! I haven’t done anything with it yet, but I just feel like I know enough to be dangerous. I just want to keep moving forward and get stronger.
I’m also getting more serious about my powerlifting. I had been squatting for a while but was getting more nervous the more weight I put on my back. I wanted to be sure my form was on point and I hadn’t really had any decent instruction on deadlifts, so I starting training with a powerlifting coach.
I’m about 9 months into it and I really enjoy it. So far my biggest moment was deadlifting 135lbs, which was my total weight loss. I didn’t realize how heavy that was until I was holding it in my hands.
I’m thinking about maybe trying out a powerlifting meet. I haven’t even said it out loud yet….
STEVE: Jaime, I have no doubt that some day in the future I’ll be seeing you share a photo from you at your first powerlifting meet, and maybe even one day hear that you’re training clients yourself!
I’m so proud of you, and I was giddy to be able to share this story with our community. Thank you!
Why Jaime Was Successful: The 5 Keys to Her Changes
I love Jaime’s story so much.
Here is a woman who has been struggling with her weight since she was a little kid, including trips to Weight Watchers with her mom at 10!
3 decades later, after gaining and losing the same 50-80 pounds over, and over, and over…something was different. Jaime is now a COMPLETELY different person, and I couldn’t be happier to have her be such a powerful and supportive member of our community.
I want to draw attention to 6 things specifically that I think are the reasons why this attempt to transform succeeded where every previous attempt had failed:
#1 JAIME KEPT TAKING BABY STEPS
As I heard more of Jaime’s story, I noticed pattern that became more and more prevalent.
She keeps taking very small steps in the right direction.
And it might have been weeks, months, or years between steps…but they are all steps, nonetheless.
She also used 20 Seconds of Courage (a rallying cry for us Rebels) at key moments when she was afraid to try something.
Jaime started reading Nerd Fitness in 2012. She then continued to read the articles but struggled to take action for two years. That’s okay!
She joined the NF Academy in 2014. She started reading the content, she joined the community, and still didn’t go all in for another two years. That’s okay!
In 2016, she decided to attend Camp Nerd Fitness, where she took more baby steps, working on her mindset and trying a few activities that didn’t scare her.
After Camp NF, she took another baby step: making slightly healthier food choices without thinking about anything else.
When it came to her breakfast, she made baby steps there too: from unhealthy paid breakfast, to slightly healthier option, and then she started bringing her own food.
After she built that momentum, she started logging her food and educating herself further.
She slowly leveled up her workouts, and signed up for increasingly challenging races that allowed her to build confidence:
- Signing up for a race can be TERRIFYING.
- Going to camp as a stranger? TERRIFYING.
- Going to your first BJJ class? TERRIFYING.
So in each instance, Jaime mustered up just 20 seconds of courage to sign up for something before she could talk herself out of it!
I have no doubt that within the next few years, I’ll be hearing from Jaime about her coaching clients and how much fun she had at her first powerlifting meet – all because she keeps taking baby steps towards her new goals!
#2: JAIME USED MOTIVATION TO BUILD MOMENTUM
Most people watch an inspiring video, attend a conference, read a book, or listen to a podcast and get all excited about changing their lives, saying “Things are going to be different now!”
So they start exercising, or running every day, or working on a project that’s important to them. And this sticks for a few weeks until life gets busy, and they realize that they have slipped back into old habits and are back at square one.
I call this “The Afterglow”: an increased period of motivation after a life-event where somebody is inspired to change. This afterglow eventually burns out as life returns to normal.
Jaime instead focused on “The Everglow:” she put her efforts into making her changes PERMANENT. By using this period of increased motivation to build systems and habits, she made sure that her progress and momentum became routine.
In other words, the fire that burned after camp is still burning today.
As we know here at Nerd Fitness, motivation is fickle and abandons us when we need it most.
So Jaime built systems and discipline and didn’t rely on motivation:
- She joined a gym and paid for training sessions up front. She knew she’d be more inclined to go if she didn’t want to waste money.
- She picked a gym right next to the bus she takes to work every day.
- She packs her gym bag every night before bed so she doesn’t have to think about it the next morning.
- She pre-plans her work clothes for the week and pre-makes her food so there’s no decision to be made at 3:30AM when she wakes up!
- She signed up and planned for races far in the future so she’d actually go.
By using this period of increased motivation to put safeguards, systems, and processes into her life, Jaime minimized the hurdles between her and continuing to build momentum through action.
Additionally, she ADDED friction between her and the things she wanted to avoid: she started bringing her food from home so she wouldn’t be tempted to eat unhealthy food.
#3: JAIME INVESTED IN HERSELF
Simply put, you value what you put your hard-earned money in, and value much less what you get for free.
I don’t just mean financially either; how you choose to invest your time, and how you choose to invest your attention will tell me a lot about you.
Jaime recognized that by making financial investments into certain activities, she was much more likely to do them:
- She invested in the Nerd Fitness Academy, and invested her attention into the community portion of it. This investment paid itself back to Jaime through inspiration and support tenfold.
- She invested in Camp NF, an event that kickstarted her journey to a leveled up life.
- She invested in a gym membership and a coach, knowing that by paying for all of this up front, she would be more likely to go.
- She invested in multiple races, knowing that by prepaying for all of them, she would HAVE to start training. By committing to a Spartan Race, it gave her a great goal in the future to work towards.
Jaime has chosen to spend her disposable income not on more games or material goods, but rather on things that bring her joy and that reward her back.
I also understand that Jaime might have more disposable income than many reading this email, so I’d also point out that Jaime made an investment that didn’t cost any money.
Instead of wasting her most valuable resource (her attention) on scrolling incessantly through Facebook or playing games on her iPad, she instead invested that resource into improving her life: reading books or studying to improve herself.
What you choose to spend your time and money on shows me what you choose to prioritize in your life. Jaime used to prioritize eating unhealthy food, sleeping in, and mindless wasting time on her ipad.
She now spends that time on bettering herself, supporting other people who want to lose weight, and working towards becoming a trainer herself!
#4: JAIME PUT HER FOCUS ON HABITS
After decades of gaining and losing the same 50-80 lbs, Jaime recognized a universal truth:
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
In other words, if you want to succeed differently, you need to TRY differently!
So Jaime changed her approach this time around: instead of focusing on the number on the scale or how quickly she could reach her weight loss goal (a strategy that had failed her a dozen times in the past), she forgot all of that and instead focused on habits.
In other words, she knew that if she could structure her daily routine the right way, her weight would take care of itself! It’s important to think in terms of “days and years,” not “weeks and months”:
So that’s what she did. She went from letting her routine determine her life, and instead started actively building a routine that worked for her.
Jaime picked small habits at one time and fixed them like a car mechanic restoring an old vehicle:
- She changed her breakfast first by making a healthier choice at the cafe she ate at each morning. Then she started bringing her own lunch.
- She learned that she would skip a workout in the morning if things weren’t perfect, so she packed her gym bag the night before.
- She learned that she was more likely to stick to her food strategies for the week if she pre-logged each of her meals, so she spent time each Sunday planning out her upcoming week.
I asked Jaime specifically which habits were crucial to her.
Habits that got Jaime here:
- Daily Meditation – using the Headspace App to work on this.
- Food logging and planning – she plans and pre-logs a week at a time, then adjusts her logging if she diverts from the plan.
- Meal prepping – she batch cooks all her meals ahead of time.
- Clothes prepping – she preps my work and exercise clothes for the week.
- Exercise – both weight training and cardio.
#5: JAIME SURROUNDED HERSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
The journey to a healthier life can be a lonely one.
This is especially if you are surrounded by people who aren’t trying to better themselves, and don’t care about your successes or struggles.
Jaime had been struggling for decades to lose weight before she found a community that spoke her language and helped her succeed in a way that she understood.
I’m proud to say that Nerd Fitness was that community for Jaime, and I’m thankful she’s chosen to pay that favor forward by being an active member and helping people who are where she used to be.
In addition to joining our online communities, Jaime also joined a running club in her community, she attended a Spartan Race in another state with rebels she met at Camp Nerd Fitness, and has trainers and people at her gym that she sees regularly.
If you’re afraid of trying something new, recruiting allies or a wingman/wingwoman is the best way to muster up the courage to go!
So if you are on a fitness journey, make it a multiplayer game! You don’t have to do this alone, and you are more likely to succeed when you surround yourself with people that pick you up rather than pull you back down.
You’re the average of the 5 people you associate most with. Think about your friends, family, and coworkers: are they actively helping you to be better, and vice versa?
- Join a running club, or start one!
- Sign up for a powerlifting meet.
- Don’t have a real life community? Join our online communities.
Think of it like the Avengers or Justice League: a super group of people that are going to make your superpowers shine.
How to be like Jaime: Start today!
Here’s how Jaime transformed herself into an actual superhero and became an inspiration to an entire community:
- Take baby steps in the right direction. Keep reading. Keep trying. Keep moving. Just make sure you’re making steps in the right direction. Focus on building momentum and you will eventually get to where you want to go.
- Use motivation to build momentum. When you get inspired, don’t just exercise. Use that motivation to schedule your workouts in your calendar, sign up with a coach, pay for a class, pack your gym bag, etc. Make it so the next day you don’t need motivation.
- Invest in yourself. Whether it’s signing up for a race, a course, an event, buying a book or class, or even just investing your time into learning more and figuring things out on your own, choose how you spend your money, time, and attention wisely!
- Focus on habits. Stop worrying about how quickly you can lose weight or reach a goal. Instead, focus on the daily habits that you know will eventually get you where you want to go. It’s all about systems, habits, and discipline, NOT more motivation.
- Surround yourself with people that make you better. Spend more time with people that pick you up, less time with people that drag you down. If you can’t find this in person, join an online community and rely on them!
This should get you started:
- You can build your batcave and focus on habits TODAY.
- You can batch cook your meals for the next few days TODAY.
- You can sign up for a race or course or commit to something TODAY.
- You can surround yourself with better people TODAY.
I want success for you in the way that Jaime found it: with a supportive community at her side.
I want to get an email from you a year from now saying that THIS article was the ‘radioactive spider’ that gave you permission to be different and start changing your life.
After all, you’re under no obligation to be who you were before you read this article. Start to put these words into practice, and your body will start to transform and look the way you feel on the inside.
If you’re in a position to make an investment in yourself, we’d love to have you in the Nerd Fitness Academy, which has helped 50,000 people like Jaime transform.
It has 7 levels of workouts, 10 levels of nutrition, boss battles, quests, and you can actually level up your character as you level up in real life!
We even have a separate subgroup for people that need to lose more than 100 pounds, and Jaime has emerged as a supportive leader of that community.
Thanks for reading this success story, and I can’t wait to hear yours a year (or 5 years!) from now. We’ll still be here, and I can’t wait to share it.
Feel free to leave any questions for Jaime or words of encouragement in the comments below!
PS: Although our Academy is a Do-It-Yourself self-paced course, we know some people want more specific instruction or need more accountability.
Jaime is a member of our Academy but has also been working with a trainer for these exact reasons!
If you’re somebody that wants somebody to check your form, teach you how to exercise correctly, build a workout program that fits YOUR busy schedule, and even helps you make better food choices, we have a really popular Online Coaching Program!
You can schedule a free call with our team on the NF Coaching page to see if we’re a good fit for each other!
PPS: I’m sure we’ll get a million questions about this: we aren’t quite sure yet when we’ll do our next Camp NF or Nerd Fitness event, but we are definitely aware of how powerful this community is when we can all gather in real life.
When we can get back to doing events, we’ll let you know!