So you’re probably wondering where the Jar Head title comes from? I spent eight years in the United States Marine Corps, and although the name Jar Head is considered derogatory, it’s a proud name I’ll wear since so few are Marines. Now, I have nothing against the other services because each one plays a vital role in our countries protection, but I have to say there is a certain respect that is earned when you join the ranks of a Marine. I have never been what you would call a fitness but, but I have always (well, mostly) tried to make better choices about my health and fitness. I do fail at it sometimes, but for me the key to success is to keep moving. You have to play the long game.

I started my twisted journey when I started playing sports in high school. I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a great athlete, but I did give it my best. Once (actually signed up during my senior year after I turned 17) I graduate high school I joined the Marines. Because I joined at the ripe age of 17 my mother wouldn’t sign for me to go active duty. As a result I took the reserve path and decided to go to college. I knew I wanted to go at some point, but this pushed me to go ahead right after high school. Obviously, joining the Marines can produce significant fitness gains and weight loss. My low weight was somewhere around 180 and I stared to see a six pack for he first time ever.  Unfortunately, that didn’t last too long once I came back to civilian life and started school.  I struggled with my weight the whole time I was in the Marines.  I was always able to do the fitness tests ok, but when they weighed us in I typically came close or over the limit.  I played this seesaw game for 8 years until I was discharged.  My weight at that time was around 210 and I was happy with that.  Well, it didn’t take too long for that weight to start creeping up since I had nothing or no one to keep me in check.  After about three-four years my weight ballooned up to about 245.  This was my “tipping” point so to speak.  All of my loose clothes no longer fit, and I knew I had to do something since this was my highest weight ever.  I began going back to the gym at the YMCA because we had a corporate sponsorship where I paid like $6 a paycheck  Stupid cheap for a full gym membership!!  I would workout in the mornings before I went to work, but I did not have an actual routine I followed.  It was more of a do chest and back today, bi’s and tri’s tomorrow, legs the next, abs one day, and then something else.  It was a mediocre attempt to lose the weight.  I did ok for a bit and dropped a few lbs by watching my intake and diet.  It was around 2009-2010 when I discovered My Fitness Pal for logging your food.  This site was the greatest thing I had ever found!  It was run by two guys in an apartment, and it was impressively robust.  I discovered a whole new community of people that I didn’t know existed.  They all wanted the same thing…to be fit and healthy.   To this day nothing else compares to it in my opinion.  Oh, back to the story…

Shortly after I discovered MFP I started noticing some coworkers from my company come to the gym, and one guy I happened to be in the Marines with years ago.  They were starting this new SEAL Fit program, and asked if I wanted to join.  It was agreed upon that we would keep to the plan with the exception of only doing it Monday-Friday due to family and work commitments.  I was hooked.  This program radically changed my life.  The first 8 weeks were just for you to learn the workout movements, and give you some “easy” Workouts Of the Day (WOD’s).   Given how fat and out of shape I was, it literally about killed me.  I had sore muscles that I didn’t know existed!  It was painful and very exciting.  Once we finished the 8-week starter program we hit the full program wide open.  By this time I had managed to increase my endurance and work capacity quite a bit, and my strength was starting to grow as well.  The following 8-weeks were nothing short of an eternity in hell.  Seriously.  I had never experienced any kind of workout like it in my life.  It was a mixture of CrossFit workouts and military training with the intensity of special operations training.  It was an amazing hell on earth to say the least.  Once we completed this training we quickly moved into CrossFit style WOD’s that we made up on our own each morning.  Oh, somewhere in the middle of hell we managed to gain a fourth member, and we were able to do team workouts at this point.  We did the CrossFit style workouts for over almost two years and my weight dropped from 245 lbs down to 199 lbs.  My body fat dropped down to an amazing 16-17%!!  I was lean, fit, and incredibly confident in myself.  Shortly after I reached my low weight CrossFit boxes started popping up in my small East Tennessee area, and my company sponsored us for a brief time to join these gyms.  We even had fitness club competitions.  Unfortunately, because the cost of memberships to these CF boxes were so expensive I was unable to pay the monthly dues.  I had a family with two kids that I could not take away from, especially when I could only pay $6 for the YMCA!!  The other three guys were able to continue their memberships, and two guys became instructors resulting in free memberships.  At this point I continued to do my own WOD’s by myself at the YMCA, and was ok with that.  Wasn’t as much fun though.  After a few months of doing these workouts by myself the gym started becoming overwhelmed with security guards from my work coming in after their night shift to workout.  This wasn’t much of an issue except they would monopolize the equipment, and then sit around and talk over it.  I finally was fed up and took to a running campaign to train for a half marathon.  This was a great time for me to do this since I was already in such great shape!  I could run six miles with no problems, and I figured I could gain another six miles pretty easily!  It wasn’t too much of a stretch for me to train for this, but it was time consuming since I needed to get my legs conditioned for the long miles ahead.  I did this for many months training for a company sponsored half marathon.  The most I ran during training was 11 miles, but come race day I became very sick with a bad stomach bug.  Discouraged I never sought another race.  I continued to run until I lost interest.  The time commitment was just too overwhelming for me.  Since then (around 2014) I have not really accomplished much in the way of fitness, and  have gained weight back up to 225-230.  I typically fluctuate between this range.  Now I am at a new employer that has a full gym on site, I have started a new account on MFP (closed my other), and I joined a premium online plan that gives me workout plans to follow.  I fear I am too old to do the CF stuff now, but I am focusing on gaining strength and losing body fat!  As part of my journey to keep it together I have started this blog as a way to force my hand, and to tell my story along the way for anyone that I can inspire!  Lets do this together!

 

Brandon