My name is Joel. I lost 210 lbs.
Everyone knew me as Big Joel, the token “big guy.” I accepted I was always going to be that way, and health and fitness were the furthest things from my mind. I was living a completely sedentary lifestyle with a deplorable diet. I was self-conscious and ashamed about my body. I had zero confidence and my self-esteem was at an all-time low.
A doctor told me my only hope at dropping the weight was to undergo weight loss surgery. That was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. My doctor was considering putting me on blood pressure medication at the age of 28 and my knees began to hurt all the time. I knew I had to make a change. On Feb. 7, 2014, my mom got me a membership to her gym, CoxHealth Fitness Center at Cox North, and access to her meal replacement shakes.
I was tipping the scales at close to 400 lbs.
I was super morbidly obese, didn’t fit in most chairs, and broke a tremendous amount of furniture over the years. I never considered shopping at the mall or any other retail store, because I knew I was at least three or four sizes above the largest size available. I had to special order my clothes. Seatbelts did not fit so I never buckled up. Now it’s, "Oh yeah, those things fit now.”
I couldn’t enjoy the outdoor activities I love because of my size. I’d have to take rest breaks while fishing because I was just too overwhelmed by my mass.
Walking up stairs or steep hills would absolutely wear me out. I felt incredibly embarrassed walking around the hilly campus of the University of Arkansas, where I attended college and was winded ALL the time.
While collecting fossils, hiking or especially caving I would have to be very cognizant of the energy I was expending because getting around started to be really hard for me. My body weight was too much to safely ride jet skis so I had to completely write off most watercraft activities. I also had to give up snow skiing because it wreaked havoc on my knees. I remember going to the top of my first run on a ski trip, taking my skis off and walking down the mountain in ski boots because my knees hurt so bad.
I finally overcame it all after I decided to make some serious changes in my life and work towards a healthy lifestyle.
My biggest struggle was completely changing my eating habits, especially in the first weeks. I was eating whatever and whenever I wanted. Incorporating an extremely healthy diet into my lifestyle shift was absolutely crucial in my transformation. I also struggled with my extremely heavy body weight in the gym at first, but as I began to see amazing results on the scale I stayed motivated to stick with my plan.
I followed diet and exercise advice from my trainers at the Cox North Fitness Center, and the results speak for themselves. I never hesitated to ask the trainers their advice on diet and exercise and they were always super encouraging and happy to help in anyway. I also began to do yoga classes there which aided in my flexibility and agility. This, along with the tremendous facilities made me look forward to working out every day.
My weight loss results after joining Cox North Fitness and changing my diet are truly remarkable. As the fat started to melt off, people began to notice my results and were completely blown away. Staff and members at the gym were very kind and encouraging along the way which aided in keeping me on track with my fitness goals. I’m extremely proud that I was able to finally buckle down and shed over 200 pounds of body fat – and keep it off.
I feel like someone hit the reset button on my life.
I can work on my feet all day long now and I can actually fish a lot more standing up which is crucial in the type fishing that I do. I have so much energy and I'm realizing things all the time that I can now do that I never could before like ride a bike, jog, hike, dance and so much more. I enjoy my new found confidence and self-esteem SO much! Turns out there was a handsome guy hiding under all that fat.
I’ve had people reach out to me after hearing my story, and I always encourage them to simply stick to their goals. There’s nothing more motivating than seeing positive results, whether it be on the scale or in the way your clothes fit. I tell people, “If Big Joel can do it, anyone can.” Hard work and determination WILL pay off in the end and these habits can add so much not only to your health, but to a better life in general.