At the start of 2013 I was 336lbs (24 stone) at 5ft 10" and 18years old, that's pretty bad.... No scratch that... Really really bad! I've always been big, as a child I was bullied mainly because of my weight. Because of this I used to comfort eat and thus gain more weight, Going into high school I still got bullied. I used to have no confidence and used to hide away in the library at break and lunch times. In the last few years I had a group of friends and stopped hiding away from the world I got to know people. Leaving high school I must have been around 16stone if not more. Always wanting to be a tattoo artist I set out to get an apprenticeship. After all the hunting I managed to get one in a local studio. At this time I must have been pushing 17-18 stone (238lbs - 252lbs)
With a Gregg's (pastries galore) and with a job where the most of it I was sat on my backside 90% of the day didn't help. By this time I excepted the fat jokes and and made jokes about myself too.
3 years went by and and I had managed to gain more weight eventually to January 2013 I hit my biggest 336lbs. (24stone). After a new years holiday with a friend, I had seen some photos of me on holiday and I deleted them instantly off my camera. I have had a lot of people say to me "there must have been something that triggered you wanting to lose weight?" and really there wasn't, I think it was lots of little things that all came into one. One of the cases was on the plane unable to fasten the seat belt. I forced that seatbelt to fit as I didn't want to ask for an extension, so I kept it on the whole flight so I didn't have to struggle to get it on again. As I say lots of little things that all just added up.
It was a busy Saturday at the studio and my boss Paul was tattooing a guy called Keith, I knew Keith and his partner Mandy as they owned a martial arts gym that a few of my friends trained at and somehow we got on the the subject of MMA and I said how I thought it was cool, Keith, whilst pulling the most hilarious faces whilst getting his elbow tattooed, said that I should attend his BJJ (brazilian jiu jitsu) class on the Sunday at 6pm... I kinda laughed it off and just carried on with my work. The next day I did my usual Sunday routine, usually involving food and lazing about. And I sat and thought about what Keith said. All day I was trying to find excuses not to go, all day. But in the end I ended up in my car outside the gym. As I walked through the door I saw Keith's face, don't think he was or would ever expect me to walk through the door. Mandy found me a Gi to wear.. Well a Gi jacket anyways that didn't fit. After a light warmup I could hardly breathe. But continued with the class at the end I was worn out.. I sat down on the sofa at the club out of breath.. I was out of breath for just over an hour and a half!! Bad!!
Needless to say I was addicted from then on.. I did the Sunday class for around 3 weeks until Mike, a friend who trained at the gym asked for a training partner in the mornings. I agreed but didn't realize I would be up at half 5 every other morning. Only just able to walk on the running machine for around 10 minutes then that was me done. I did this as well as the BJJ classes on Sundays for around 3 weeks and listened to Mandy about my food, cut out some bad carbs and cola and lost a stone (13lbs) . I was well chuffed!
I hated working out in front of people, just due to confidence as everyone down the gym were all physically fit, and then there was me. Keith mentioned that they did an MMA class on Tuesday's and thursdays as well as a BJJ class on the Thursday too. So for all my sins, I ended up down there on the mats, Tuesday's were rather hard fitness sessions . I remember all the guys (I was the only female at the time) half way through a warm up Keith said, "drop, 20 pushups" so I was there on my knees probably doing the worst pushups anyone had ever seen, i was struggling with them, my arms ached and I was trying to do as many as I could. Everyone was already on their feet and continued to run around the room, I felt like crap, as I said before I hated working out in front of people, now I was holding up everyone else, I remember looking at the floor thinking "they must be looking at me thinking, look at the fat girl trying to do pushups" so I closed my eyes and tried to carry on doing the pushups. All of a sudden I heard one of the guys say, "go on Jode, you can do 'em"... Wow now that for me was amazing as I suddenly realized everyone is there for the same reason. I got a massive burst of energy and finished the pushups. Needles to say, I was knackered after but it was all worth it! I continued to train most days, between 4 and 6 times a week, not to torture myself but out of enjoyment, I had truly found something that I enjoyed, the fact the weight was coming off was a bonus!
Back then, i was pretty shy until you got to know me, well if you ever used the word 'shy' and 'Jodie' now to anyone they would laugh, call you crazy and walk away. I then started to take up kickboxing too, so I was down the gym most nights, Mandy did and still does an amazing job with helping me with my food, and Keith a great job at barking vile words like burpees ! I was weighing myself every week at the gym after training. The pounds soon dropped off, little by little, sometimes just 2lbs and others 5-6lbs . Don't get me wrong, it was lots of blood, sweat and tears but it was and is all worth it, I have made some life long friends down on the mats.
On my journey to weight loss I was sat in the cinema and saw an advert for a 5k race for life, I looked it up later on the Internet and decided to hell with it, I signed up for my closest one. At race day there was a group of ladies from the gym that were going to walk around the 5k, I had my mind set that I was going to jog the whole way.. I have never jogged before so thought I might as well do it. My mum, Keith and Mandy came to support everyone, I was nervous, so I stuck my headphones in and off I went. I jogged the whole way, never stopped , I was pretty surprised as most people who were in the jogging section stopped just as we got around the corner... I was like.. What! Move outa my way. I got to the finish line and my legs were jelly, I felt amazing, my mum, Mandy and Keith we're waiting for me at the finish, i was overwhelmed with the fact I jogged the whole way! Never before had I thought I could do such a thing. This was the fist sort of event that I ran in, and first of many to come. I managed to raise around £400 for cancer research too.
I'll fast forward to around September, now BJJ was and is always my first love. I think about it night and day. There was a no Gi grappling competition coming up and one of my training partners Greg had entered, I was thinking about doing it but I was a Gi girl, I would rather be in the Gi than no Gi , after talking to Greg over Facebook saying I may go and support him, he said that I could still register if I wanted to take part. I laughed and thought nothing of it. It was the eve of late registration date, it closed in around an hour, and I turned around to Keith laughably and told him Greg had said I should register and compete. He turned around and said " do it, you have nothing to lose" I remember instance nerves setting in, as I rushed home to sign up. What had I done! I was going to get eaten alive, I remember going to bed that night having nervous shakes!
After the BJJ class on Sunday i signed up for the competition, I asked if anyone wanted to roll in no Gi so I could get a last bit of practice in, two of my other fellow training partners Mark and Tim agreed to help me after a few rolls I ended up rolling with mark, boom, I landed hard on my shoulder. I lay there in agony. I had no idea what I had done, I just knew it hurt. Great, injured myself 3 days before the competition. I was devastated thinking I had done long term damage to my shoulder not only stopping me from the competition, but from training all together. After a hospital scan the next day I found out nothing was broken, long story short after rest and a physio appointment, I decided to hell with it, I'm competing if it hurts i will tap and that's the end of it. The morning of the comp I was no nervous. Me, Mark, Mandy and my Mum went down and met Greg there, Greg would be fighting first then me at 3pm. Greg's fights were absolutely amazing he missed out on gold on the refs decision I was gutted for him. Getting called up to the mats was strange. I met my opponent and got called onto the mats, slapped tapped and off we went, after being stood up for around 2 minutes my opponent pulled guard, we went to the ground I passed guard to side control got my points, moved to mount and got a tap from an ezekiel choke. I was so relived, my shoulder ached a bit but was fine other than that. The realization that I won gold hadn't sank in, the medals were an impressive size after collecting mine on the podium I was grinning like a Cheshire cat! I couldn't believe after training 7 months I had won a gold medal and am classed as the British No Gi female Heavyweight Champion 2013!
Since then I have competed in the Nottingham BJJ Open with a team of us from the club, 8 of us competed and we came away with 3 golds, Greg and Rob and I, silver for Mark and a bronze for 'Simba' ! Everyone that day fought amazingly, So here I am now lost 105 lbs so far, 10 months down the line, not doing too bad for myself. I have a long way to go to reach my goal weight but i have also come along way. "I can, I will and I'll prove it to you".