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After years of struggling with his weight, 57-year-old Brad Jones decided he needed a complete reset. Here’s how he did it.

I’ve struggled with my weight most of my adult life, having tried several diets and just about every gym chain in existence. Being paralyzed and using a wheelchair for mobility can make being active a challenge.

I’m blessed that I have had jobs that I absolutely loved, but that only exacerbated the inactivity because I would work 12 to 16 hours a day at a desk, six or seven days a week. I made no time for exercise or activity; I was absorbed in my work.

 

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And then, as I sat there working, I’d eat. And not nutritious meals. I would go to Wendy’s and get the same burger, fries, and drink every day. The guy at the drive-through window would say, “See you tomorrow!” as I left. I know he was being nice, but I hated hearing it, because I knew I wasn’t eating healthy, and just packing on more weight. And every time I had some success losing it, I yo-yo’d back. At over 300 pounds, it was really taking a toll on my shoulders and elbows every time I got in and out of my chair.

I knew I had a real problem. I needed to find a healthy lifestyle that I could stick with.

My life changed on June 1, 2022, when I “rolled” into Life Time. During a gym tour, I met Sarah Winchester, a trainer who’s worked with wounded warriors, some with limited mobility similar to mine.

I came in looking for a hand cycle and a pool with a lift so I could get in and out. If I did cardio three or four times a week and swam two or three times a week, and had a good diet, I figured I could keep losing weight.

The Most Fun Thing I’d Done in 33 Years

Sarah showed me that I had so many more options. She started me using resistance bands, battle ropes, and light kettlebells. I’d sprint in the chair as fast as I could while she pulled back on resistance bands. She recognized that years of lifting myself in and out of the chair had narrowed my range of motion, and sitting so much had left me with a weak core and severe back pain. So I’d rotate a kettlebell around my head to expand my range of motion again. We did Pilates and played pickleball, literally the most fun thing I’d done in 33 years in the wheelchair. Sarah showed me how many new and fun ways I could exercise—it didn’t always have to be the pool or the handcycle.

Then, when I started the Life Time 60-Day Challenge, it really changed things for me. I just felt like I had so much support, from everyone in the gym, trainers and members alike. Every day I had people right there with me, cheering me on and holding me accountable.

During the 60-Day Challenge, Sarah gave me one crucial adjustment to my diet. I was eating well overall, but I was consuming too much sodium. Once I made that change, the weight just started falling off. [Brad was one of two Men’s Winners in the Fall 60-Day Challenge.]

Staying In The Game

The weight loss has been a process; having lost 70 pounds, I’m down to my lowest weight since September 2001. I now wake up each day able to move a little easier. I still have aches and pains because of all the years of hauling excess weight, but if I hadn’t lost those 70 pounds, I would likely be bedridden. Life Time and Sarah, for me, have been life-changing, even saving. I know what my life would be like without all of them.

I’m not finished. I’m going to lose another 40 pounds in 2023 by sticking with a routine of exercise and mindful, healthful eating. I want to be under 200 pounds. I’ll be doing another 60-Day Challenge for motivation, and I hope to motivate others the same way they have for me. And Sarah and I are going to enter a pickleball tournament in the spring. I hope to see more people with limited mobility try it—it’ll help everyone get out and move more, and just plain have fun.

My strongest advice to people is: Don’t wait. I wish I’d learned years ago how many different, fun exercises I could do before I put my body through so much stress. Everyone can find a way, even if it’s just starting with walking out of your house to the street and back. There’s so much more we can do to be active and live healthily, so seize those opportunities!

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