This post was written for the No Bull Blog by a friend of mine by the name of Matthew McClung. I met Matt training Brazillian Jiu Jitsu at No Limit Jiu Jitsu in Starkville. He has his own blog called Panda Bear Jiu Jitsu which follows his fitness journey, so y’all be sure to go check it out.
I was 420 pounds in January 2015, I had been living in Starkville 6 months, and I had just gotten a new job as a web designer. With this new found money, I wanted to go sign up to do something physical. I had always been off and on doing weight loss stuff, I knew there was an issue but I never set in and did anything for too long. I decided martial arts would be a cool way to lose weight and get tough. I had these ideas of becoming an old grizzled martial artists who could channel their power into one punch or some shit like that. At the same time, I believed these traditional martial artists were superior to the guys you see in the UFC, because the UFC has rules. So, I happen to tell some close friends online that I was looking for somewhere to train. They mentioned a friend of theirs who ran a school here. I’m like “AWESOME!” , I can keep a connection to my friends back home. I go there and at the time there was the Instructor Jae and Jessica. He kinda went over what they did and when he said they didn’t do forms, I was relieved. I don’t know much about martial arts, but it seemed to be a general consensus that forms are borderline useless for actual combat.
So I start training the next week. Honestly, my first day I lied about my weight, because I thought I would be excluded for it, if I dig the text up I could probably find it, I think I told Jae via text I weighed 370 pounds? He totally didn’t care, and I came in and boy did it freakin suck. I have never had to try to be that athletic or move like that and I felt like butter was coming out of my skin. I left there and everything hurt. Let me tell you, I’m nothing if not a big fuckin quitter. When life gets tough I get going, I was always like that. But somehow, and I’m not even sure myself how, I stuck to it. I wish I could pinpoint one thing that kept me around, but I honestly can’t. The people were great and encouraging, maybe that was it? Anyway, as time went on, I eventually got my first tap of someone….6 months after I had started. Huge moment for me. I was kinda known by the end of my first year as being smashy, which I mean yea I got the size I use it.
Fast forward to like a year and a half later. I had my blue belt for awhile, and without knowing it, I had somehow become more agile and flexible. I get compliments on how quick I react and move, and I’m not sure when that happened either. I found out too why exercise, your general cardio and weightlifting had been so hard for me and so easy to quit. Because I honestly didn’t give a shit. Its much easier to stick to a work out plan where the goal isn’t to lose weight. Now mind you my goal wasn’t to be healthy either, my goal was to be faster and stronger so I could break my opponents easier.
Heres the final fast forward, to today. I’m a purple belt, just got it. I know stuff and I teach the kids how to do fundamental things. I’m happy with how things are going. To meet my weightloss goals, I’m currently trying to conquer the unhealthy cravings, as well as moving my diet to healthier foods in general. This gym has become like my family, and I guess this is a good place to just let this out. I have never really been close to my family, not in the slightest, I’m not sure what the mental block on it is, or if its because of the distance. I mean my family outside brothers and sisters and parents by the way. We have always been the black sheep, I think because we were raised poor, and I only felt a closeness to a few relatives beyond that. I also wasn’t the greatest with making friends, only having a few throughout my life, and developing most of my close ones in my mid-20s when I moved to a new house in Cleveland with these guys.
Jiu Jitsu gave me this family I needed. These people train with me and everything I do is to help them get better. There is a joke I say, “I don’t remember your name until you’ve been here about 3 months”, and that’s true because our ‘family’ is an exclusive club. Jiu Jitsu is hard, but it doesn’t require innate skill it requires perseverance. I tell the kids I train that, I tell them that I’m training them as a team, and we cheer for our teammates, because when they win we win. To me, my weight loss has become something that will happen eventually, as long as I stay active.
Final thoughts I guess, mainly on what it takes to lose weight. First off talk to your doctors. Too many people now like to say that doctors shame them for being overweight. Fuck that and fuck them, a doctor is the main person who can help you lose weight and I see one regularly. I also see a dietician if I feel stuck, mostly to confirm that my diet choices are reasonable. These people are professionals, and by god from what I have seen, 90% of the time they want to help you, I mean you are paying them after all. You aren’t stuck where you are at, even when you feel like you are, even if you need help along the way. Shit, show me one person who hasn’t gotten some help along the way. By the way, for those wondering, my current weight is 280.