Jim Meister managed to turn the tragedy of losing his sister into motivation to transform himself into the healthy, strong, and motivating man that he is today.
I was always a “big boned” kid as my grandmother would say. Even as a young child I was embarrassed by my size. Clothes shopping was torture. Normal clothes never fit. I always ended up with the Toughskin Husky jeans while all the cool kids were wearing designer jeans.
My First Transformation
I tried to fit in as best as I could. At 14 I was taught by my stepmom how to control my eating. I enrolled at the local YMCA and found a love for fitness. I played everything. I went from 4’11” to 5’8” and from 172 lbs to 140 lbs in a year. I started using the Nautilus machines, played racquetball, swam, played baseball and pick up basketball.
My freshman year in high school I found my love for football. I was a decent player on an amazing team. Needless to say, I didn’t see much playing time throughout high school. Mostly in mop up time. I threw the javelin and discus as well. This, I was much better at and excelled.
After high school I wandered. I had no real goals. I ended up partying most of the time and got myself in trouble with alcohol and drugs. It wasn’t until I met my future wife that I settled down. While my life was turning around, my health wasn’t. I fell back into old habits of poor eating and no exercise.
Transforming Again (for the Worse)
I ended up behind a desk for the next 17 years. This led to more poor eating. When my first child was born, my wife gained 40 lbs and so did I. She lost it. I didn’t. When our second child was born, my wife gained 35 pounds. Again, so did I. Again she lost it and again I didn’t. So here I am, 29 years old and weighing 290lbs. I tried many diets after that but could never keep the weight off. This kept going for the next decade.
At the age of 39 tragedy struck. My best friend, my sister Stacey died in her sleep from a major cardiac episode. I wanted my life to have ended instead of hers. Depression hit me hard. I would no longer go out or even get out of bed for anything but work. I quickly put on another 100lbs. I just didn’t care anymore.
The Final Straw
At the age of 41, I had an epiphany. My daughters asked me why I didn’t go out anymore. I realized that now I couldn’t go out. I was 400lbs and had trouble walking for more than a few minutes at a time. I got scared. It was just before i was about to turn 42 myself when I realized that I didn’t want to leave my girls like my sister left her son and us. I wanted to live! I consulted with my doctor and he referred me to a weight loss surgeon.
I weighed in at 397lbs. On a 5’8” frame I was considered extremely morbidly obese.
In February of 2014, I had my first appointment with my surgeon. I weighed in at 397lbs. On a 5’8” frame I was considered extremely morbidly obese. This was the day my life changed. I had to lose 20lbs prior to the surgery. I had my reason, but why now! My children! By the April 2014 surgery date, I lost 50lbs by changing my diet and walking. The surgery was an unmitigated success. I had no complications and was walking within a couple hours of recovery. I have never looked back.
When I returned home, I started walking 6 minutes in the morning and 6 minutes at night. I made a promise to myself to progress every day. The next day it was 7 minutes at a time. This kept up for 3 months. By that time, I was walking for an hour each session.
Three months post op, I was given permission to start lifting weights. I signed up at the local Workout World the next day. It was so intimidating. I was still a heavy man and embarrassed to be there, but day after day I went back.
I would do circuit training on the machines. All the old knowledge from my teenage years was put to use. I didn’t realize how little I actually knew. I would split my workouts between the machines and the treadmill. By February of 2015, I was banging out 10 miles on the treadmill. Not walking but jogging. The machines were getting very boring.
I had eclipsed the 200lb loss goal that I had set for myself. The gym was losing all of its allure for me. That is until I saw a guy doing some of the most incredible balances I had ever seen. He was a lot younger than me but I knew I had to ask him for help because I really wanted to try them. I was shocked when he offered to start helping me every day. He said he wanted to “pay it forward with fitness.”
Pat Hoy became my mentor then my friend. Soon I was doing handstands against a wall, but it wasn’t enough. I started studying how to build all the muscles needed to do handstands correctly. This led to a renewed passion in the gym. It also led me to learn how to workout again.
This time fitness was not just for bulk like it was in the 1980’s. I soon found that I really loved all bodyweight calisthenics. My favorite was core and ab work. I started to finally see the six pack that I never had. It became my goal to have the strongest core possible.
Time to Pay It Forward
It progressed so far that in June 2015, I started holding 6am bodyweight calisthenics classes at my home five days a week. I loved it. I decided then and there that I wanted to be a certified personal trainer and help others that were in the same place I had once been. It was my turn to pay it forward with fitness.
This led me to start helping others in my gym. I didn’t charge anyone I helped, I just wanted to give them the start that was given to me. Just recently, I obtained my first certifications. I was given the opportunity to demo some of the different strength and cardio classes that I have put together over the past year. Each place I have done the demo has hired me to instruct classes. I was also asked to join the training crew at the gym that I have called home since I started my fitness and weight loss journey. It’s funny because I have people coming in and asking for me to train them now. Even a complete stranger that I happened to speak with in line at the supermarket.
The opportunity to help others has not stopped at the gym. I am extremely active on social media as well. I strive to inspire others that are enduring the struggle through the power of positivity and of course my transformation photos. I truly believe that if I could do it, you can too. My goal is to get you to believe it.
I receive many questions and requests for advice on a daily basis. I make sure that I answer each and every one. You never know who’s life you are going to change with an answer or even a simple inspiring word.
While my inspiration was tragic, I honestly do not think I would have changed if my sister didn’t pass away at such a young age. I know I have put in the hard work but I also have to believe that she has been there all along pushing me to keep going. Thank you Stacey! My will to live won out. And I am finally LIVING!
Remember, IT CAN BE DONE! Go out and do it!
Follow Jim Meister on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/4eyesdown/
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