Photo from aug 29, 2012 —

A Year Ago Today, I Turned My Health and Life Around

It wasn’t easy, but damn it was worth it!

Jason Zook
Aug 29, 2013 · 4 min read

Exactly one year ago today I completed a self imposed 90-day challenge to turn my health and life around. Roughly 90 days before the completion day, I had just turned 30 years old, and when I looked in the mirror, I hated the person I’d become.

Being an entrepreneur - or more accurately, being self-employed - has a lot of benefits, but it also creates a lot of opportunities to sacrifice your health and your lifestyle for the sake of your business.

Who is that person on the far left??

I was a collegiate athlete. After I graduated college, I was a gym rat. In my early 20's, I was completely comfortable in my own skin. So what happened? Well, when I left my corporate job to strike out on my own, I moved away from the structure and security of the 9-5 workplace. I lost the daily regimen of doing things at certain times. Hell, most days I woke up and went straight from my bed to my laptop. This “schedule” went on for months, maybe even years.

After four years of working for myself, my lifestyle finally hit rock bottom. I certainly wasn’t obese by any means, but my clothes didn’t fit me anymore. I slept terribly. I got winded going up stairs. I found myself always sucking in my gut in public, and I generally felt like I had zero energy and zero mental focus.

I made my 90-day challenge public, because I knew I couldn’t do it myself. During the course of those four previous years, I had tried going to the gym and going on a few diets. I tried a lot of things in an attempt to get my health and personal appearance back on track, but none of it worked. I thought that if I made my challenge public, maybe people would rally around me and keep me motivated (and more importantly, accountable).

And they did.

During those 90 days, I posted a weekly video update, and people cheered me on, emailed me with words of encouragement, and let me know I had inspired them to do something similar. Many incredibly fit people I knew (like my buddy Web) told me to kick the challenge’s ass, but to think of it more like a lifestyle change. That was huge for me.

“It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet.”

Yeah, I wanted to make a difference in 90 days, but I also didn’t want to balloon back up immediately after the challenge and lose all the hard work I had put in. He and many others were right. This couldn’t be a Band-Aid.This had to be a lifestyle change. I’m not 21 anymore, with a raging metabolism and the ability to digest three meals of Chick-Fil-a a day without gaining a single pound of fat. (Don’t I wish I could, though.)

So I finished my 90-day challenge. Excuse me... I kicked the SH!T out of my 90-day challenge! In the interest of transparency, I admit I put in a little extra work in the gym and in my nutrition plan the last few weeks in order to look as good as possible for the before/after photos. (C’mon, you have to make those look great.) And I can honestly say my lifestyle has completely changed. I’ve found a happy medium between eating healthy foods and treating myself to some delicious treats (read: chocolate covered popcorn.) Over the past year I’ve sustained much higher energy levels, I sleep much better, my clothes fit like they should, and I honestly just feel so much better about myself.

One of the craziest realizations looking back at my 90-day challenge is that in just 90 days I was able to get rid of four years of bad habits. 90 days of hard work to erase 1,460 days of crap? I’ll take that any day.

As of this morning, I weigh 234 pounds and am probably around 15% body fat.The great thing about the hard work I put in last year is that if I want to lose a few pounds, I can tweak a couple things in our weekly grocery list, make a couple extra trips to the gym, and slim right back down. (The spray tan, however, I think I’m okay to never do that again.)

I also want to give credit to my buddy David Siteman Garland. His transformation gave me the final piece of motivation to take the plunge and make my challenge public. I also want to thank Tyler and Mimi Ford who supported my challenge with a unique sponsorship. And of course, my loving girlfriend Caroline, who dealt with the emotional roller coaster I went through, kept me from derailing my nutrition plan, and has done the most important thing of all by embracing this new lifestyle together.

If you’re like I was last year when I turned 30, now’s the time to take a stand, and change your lifestyle. Don’t put it off. Start now and don’t look back.

This Happened to Me

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    Jason Zook

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    This Happened to Me

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