I did all the work to do it and then lost my job and insurance. It took me years to find a job whose Insurance would pay for it. In that time, I’d gone from 350 pounds to over 450 pounds. I honestly thought that I was basically dead. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I made my peace that I was unsavable. Every statistic told me that even with weight loss surgery, I’d fail. Or have excess skin. Despite that, I chose the surgery.

My surgery did not go as planned and I ended up spending 3 days in the ICU. But I left determined to succeed. I then spent 6 weeks in bed, unable to even drink water (much less eat) without throwing up. I lost 50 pounds, but everyone still thought I would fail.

I’m a natural born contrarian who loves nothing more than proving people wrong, so when my family and best friends baulked at how serious I was about weight loss, it just pushed me further. I went on thumbtack and searched for a personal trainer…and I found Jason.

I had never worked out in a gym before because I always felt incredibly uncomfortable and like everyone was laughing at me, much less sought out a trainer. It went against every instinct, but I still did it.

Jason arranged a meeting time and I brought my best friend (who later ended up training with Jason) because I was so nervous. Still weighing 400 pounds, I got winded just walking in from the parking lot. But that didn’t put off Jason. He honestly talked to me and made me feel so comfortable with him that I decided he was the right fit for me on the spot. I bought a package then and there.

Over the next few months, he worked with my work schedule so we could meet twice a week. He pushed me but never beyond what I could do. He used his humor and personality to connect with me as a person and make me feel like he was my friend. After a few months, he slowly started setting rules. “You can’t sit down for the whole session”, “You have to do five sets before you take a break”, “You can’t talk unless you’re doing this part of the work out”, “Don’t tell me you can’t do something you’re already doing”. All of which I was capable, and all of which I did.

The weight started sliding off me…400 pounds….350 pounds….300 pounds. And Jason was my cheerleader every second of the journey. He made going there fun and something to which I looked forward. On my journey, I’ve had several emotional breakdowns and outburst and Jason has listened to every single one of them and advised me.

In 2011, the Norwegian/Swahili Singer Stella Mwangi called “Haba, Haba”. It’s a super amazing dancey/pop song (which Jason dislikes), but which has become my mantra. The chorus is “Haba, haba hujazi kibaba”. It’s a Swahili proverb that literally means “little by little fills up the measure”. It’s the equivalent to the story of the Tortoise and the Hare…slow and steady wins the race.

It means that consistency, although progress may be slow, is more beneficial than being hasty to get something done. That’s Jason. He’s not gonna give you 8 Minute Abs. He’s not gonna get you “Hot for Summer” when you start in April. He’s also gonna explain to you why and work with you to get stronger, lose weight and reach real, long lasting goals. If you put in the work, he puts in the work.

He believes that consistency, although progress may be slow, is more beneficial than being hasty to get something done.

When I got a new job and had to change my work out times… Haba haba hujazi kibaba.

When I had to change my payment method and arrangement… Haba haba hujazi kibaba.

At this moment, I weigh 209 pounds. I’ve lost over 240 pounds and have zero excess skin. And as much as everyone would like to chalk up losing that amount of weight to my surgery, it’s totally untrue. My surgery gave me an easy way to lose the first 50 pounds. Working with Jason has given me all the rest.

I haven’t just lost weight, I’ve gained muscle and strength. Before this, I literally couldn’t unload my dishwasher. Now I routinely climb 5 flights of stairs to my apartment not because of the exercise, but to remind me that I can.

Jason isn’t just a trainer. He’s a therapist, a cheerleader and a friend. He truly cares about every single one of his clients and supports them every step of the way. He makes people like me, who were terrified of gyms and working out, feel comfortable and actually look forward to it. He’s also so honest with his clients and doesn’t give unrealistic expectations.

The best thing about Jason is that he has an incredible sense of integrity. He won’t make a promise he can’t keep. His biggest problem is that he cares too much. He literally just wants to haba haba people into being their best selves.

I cannot talk enough about how amazing and important he is and has been to me. It would be so easy to attribute my weight loss to my surgery, but it has honestly been 10% surgery and 90% Jason.

In a world full of people who expected me to fail and be fat forever, he saw me and believed that I could succeed…and he has made all the difference.

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