Meet John Jarrett, a 48-year-old stay-at-home dad in Springfield, Oregon. Pictured below with him is his primary project these days: his toddler, Gunner. But John is also an outdoorsman, grillmaster, a former machinist and a “Dr. Who” fanatic — all things that play to his analytical and number-driven mind. But this photo doesn’t reveal the number that really had John obsessed just one year ago: 300. He’s gone north of there on the scale on two separate occasions. This is his story, of beating that number and finding a healthier lifestyle, as told through his Instagram account.
Last March, John weighed in at 305 pounds for the second time in his life. The first time, in 2010, he did an 11-month program that helped him lose the weight and make changes to his lifestyle. But it didn’t take. “I settled down, got married and got lazy being a stay-at-home dad,” he admits. “I knew it was time to start over.”
John knew he had it in him. The first time, he found a good, balanced formula: “Eating clean, exercising properly and no crazy fads.” What he had to put aside was his love of barbecue. He’s professionally trained in the art of the grill and has three enormous Traeger grills on his patio, with beef brisket and pork shoulder in regular rotation. Moderating that wouldn’t be easy.
John had tried a number of different wearables and devices to help him track his food and exercise, but he didn’t like that most were incompatible. On a whim — and inspired by his casual acquaintance with Under Armour athlete Cameron Hanes, a fellow outdoorsman — he bought a pair of UA Geminis and began using the UA Record app. “I liked the way it was laid out in quadrants,” he explains. “It reminded me of the four food groups, and it was easy to understand.”
The next step was changing his diet. He would eat a protein shake in the morning with a scoop of peanut butter powder and a banana on the side. For lunch, three sticks of celery with peanut butter, and more fruit. For dinner, he would eat a chicken salad. It wasn’t easy, but his motivation was simple: He wanted to stay healthy for his family — and be able to chase his son.
Next came exercise. He mapped out a 2.5-mile loop in his neighborhood that was mostly on flat ground and set out to walk every day. It wasn’t easy at first. “When I was 300 pounds, I was probably pushing 16–17 minutes per mile,” he admits.
But it got easier as he kept at it, and his diet improved. He increased his speed to a power walk and started throwing in hard jogs and even some sprints. He even wore out those Geminis. “It’s fun to power walk past a jogger now,” he laughs.
By maintaining his regimen and tracking everything through Record, MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun — his food intake, his steps, his exercise, even his sleep — he saw the pounds start coming off. As late fall rolled around, John was down more than 100 pounds and had gone from a size 3XL shirt to a large.
Key to his success has been moderation — and some incredible discipline. John still grills constantly, but he doesn’t always partake. “I can have [beef]once a month, pulled pork maybe once or twice a month.” he says. “I don’t like the term ‘cheat,’ but you gotta have a little pleasure here and there.”
What John has yet to achieve is his goal weight of 190. He’s been stuck in the 193–198 range since the holidays, and he’s OK with that. “It’s been gray and rainy here, so no matter how hard I push, it’s not changing. If I push hard in cold weather, it’s going to hurt — joints, ligaments and muscles don’t want to work hard in cold weather.”
But he’s sticking with it, and believes “once April rolls around, I’ll hit my 190 in a heartbeat.” In the meantime, he can really enjoy his smaller frame. That includes being able to dress as his favorite “Dr. Who” character — War Doctor — at a local comic convention.
And when it comes down to it, he wants to be a good role model for Gunner. “Some people hate doing the research and just want instant gratification,” he says. “That’s setting you up for failure.” Here’s to your success, John.