After struggling with his health as a teen, a soldier is sharing lifestyle changes that led him to shed 80 pounds.
Virginia Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Roger Jackson is assigned to the 183rd Regional Regiment, Training Institute. He said he was surprised when friends started spontaneously congratulating him. Fellow soldiers sent him screenshots of people saying how they’re inspired by his weight loss story that was posted on the Instagram account for the National Guard.
Jackson does not maintain a social media presence, so he had no idea that his story was making such an impact on others. The shy staff sergeant even gets a little choked up from the attention because, for him, this was a solo journey of self-motivation that meant not being limited by anyone else’s expectations.
He remembers being a happy kid. At 17, he weighed around 250 pounds. Specialists recommended dieting, but he didn’t worry about what the scale said. But after being bullied and told what he couldn’t do, he says his mindset changed.
“There was one point where my dad tried to set me up with a little league team, but because I was not the size of the other kids, I was not able to actually take that opportunity,” he said.
Jackson didn’t want his weight to keep him from sports so he joined the track team as a thrower, where the focus wasn’t on his weight. It was on not allowing a number to hold him back from engaging in what he wanted. And when Jackson set his sights on making the team, the work he put in caused the weight to shed and slowly become less of a roadblock for him.
“Once you make that decision internally, you just kind of go for it,” he says, and he gave all he had to it.
Later on, Jackson decided to join the cross-country team, where he pushed himself even further and started, “seeing the weight falling off.” He cut soda from his diet, started making healthier food choices, and lost a total of 80 pounds. By the time he enlisted in the Army National Guard he had an avid workout routine that he still maintains.
A recent report showed 19% of U.S. adults ages 18-24 would not meet standards for accession to the U.S. military due to obesity, according to the Congressional Research Service. Findings go on to reveal that those with high weight and body fat in military occupation specialties cost the DOD “$1.2 billion annually in higher healthcare spending and lower productivity.”
Jackson’s journey has been a source of hope and encouragement for people who want to join the military and are working to get their weight down. The Instagram post that shared his story garnered comments of admiration and similar stories.
“Inspiration for those of us battling a fitness challenge.”
“I have lost 60 pounds but I’m still working on more to join.”
“Very inspirational. 100 more lbs to go for me. Halfway there.”
While he had no idea how his story would affect others, Jackson says he is honored to hold the place of being a motivator to many. Up next on his goal list is to attend the U.S. Army Master Fitness Course because he says, “My overall purpose is really just to help people.”
His workout of choice is cardio. His love for running and hiking gives him a chance to feel challenged and finishing is only the beginning because he’s always looking to push himself further.
“Start your journey for yourself. And once you reach your goal, don’t settle there. Never give up on your goal or yourself,” he added.Read comments