How Dwayne Johnson inspired one man to lose 87 pounds: ‘I thought I was destined to be fat my whole life’

Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Jerrod Ackerman is 5’10” tall and currently weighs 198 pounds. In 2018, after struggling with his weight for most of his life and realizing it was causing issues for him at work, he decided to pursue a healthier lifestyle. This is the story of his weight-loss journey, in his own words.

The Turning Point

My weight has always been an issue. Growing up, I was always the fat kid. I remember getting made fun of for being the big kid of the group, even by adults when I was a young kid. I grew up never thinking I was good enough in anything. I always had little to no friends; girls never paid attention to me. I absolutely hated having my picture taken. I never tried at anything (sports, school, extra curricular activities, etc.). I was just all-around depressed about life and I blamed that on my weight.

Obesity has always been a problem in my family. My mom was overweight and had numerous illness because of this, including uncontrolled diabetes, which led to her losing her eyesight, being put on dialysis and losing her leg just below the knee.

After countless tries and failures, I thought I was destined to be fat my whole life. I was at a terrible place in life. I was heartbroken and sleeping on my parents’ floor because I was thrown out by my girlfriend. I had just started a new job so I had very little money at the time, and just had a terrible attitude about everything.

I was working for a private rescue company, sitting on top of a liquid storage tank for standby rescue when a contractor had asked me, “If one of us goes down in there, are you even going to be able to fit in the hole to come get us?” I remember thinking to myself, “Man, these guys are trusting me and my company with their lives and they don’t even have faith that I can save them.” I went home that night and looked at myself in the mirror and said, “It's time for a change, one that you actually put full effort into or you’re going to end up like your mom.”

Jerrod Ackerman before losing weight. (Photo: Jerrod Ackerman)

The Changes

I started with just working out a couple of days a week, seeing very little progress, eating what I thought at the time was a healthy diet. After about a month of seeing little to no progress on the scale, I almost gave up. Lying in bed one night, I felt the depression wave coming back. I screamed at myself, “Not this time! Don’t you dare give up.”

The next day I did research on healthy diets and workout plans. I started with the keto diet, and it worked for a while, but since I worked for a company that required me to travel for work, it was very hard finding keto-friendly food. So eventually, I switched to intermittent fasting and followed the calorie in, calorie out diet.

I also started to work out at least five times a week, even if I had to make up a workout because I wasn’t around a gym while traveling for work. One time, I found an old tire in a field by my hotel and used it for a workout, picking it up and running up and down the parking lot, doing as many pushups with it on my back as I could — anything I could do to get my heart pumping.

After getting into my routine, I felt great. I was almost addicted to working out. If I didn't get some type of workout in, i would feel antsy and like I was being lazy. Seeing the progress of myself and others kept me motivated. I follow a couple fire/rescue pages on Instagram, one specifically being Fittofightfire, and they would always post this one quote: “Would you want you rescuing you and your family?“

Being that was the field I worked in, I took that one to heart and would constantly repeat that in my head daily. Also, the Rock was a giant motivation. He was constantly posting motivational posts and videos, and all I needed to do when I was feeling down was pull up one of his posts.

After seeing my progress and having people tell me how good I looked, I knew there was no way I was ever going to give up. I didn't want to have the health problems I saw my mom going through.

Ackerman before and during his weight loss journey. (Photo: Jerrod Ackerman)

The After

I feel great. I know I still have a little way to go, but I know I’m going to be successful. I am way more confident. Many people have told me that I smile more and I’m always laughing and happy. I feel like I can carry on a conversation with anyone now because of the confidence boost. I was offered more responsibility at work, got a promotion and was selected for our offshore rescue crew (a position that’s reserved for the most proficient and fit people at our company.)

My life took a complete turn. I used to be depressed with life and everything else, and now I have a great outlook on life. I have a new girlfriend I met through the weight loss community, and life just seems to be getting better and better.

Honestly, I was surprised how much I had psyched myself out of weight loss before. In my mind, I made it seem like it was some near-impossible task that would take years and years of extremely hard work to pull off, and now I realize how attainable it is. All I had to do was stick with it and things would change.

Ackerman, pictured during his weight-loss journey, worked out 4-5 days a week, counted calories, and did intermittent fasting. (Photo: Jerrod Ackerman)

The Maintenance

I try to follow the intermittent fasting and still workout around four to five times a week. I try to practice healthy eating habits, portion control and self-control around unhealthy foods.

Seeing where I started and where I'm at now keeps me inspired. I know it’s a little conceited, but I like hearing people tell me how good I look now. It motivates me to continue to practice the habits that have been successful for me.

The Struggles

I struggle sometimes when I am tired after working a long day. It's hard to get that motivation to go to the gym. I just make myself get up and go and am always proud of myself for doing so.

Although I do have some slip ups with my diet, I know it's not the end of the world when I do.

Advice

Stick with it and don't give up. I know it’s hard at first, but it does get better. Make sure you appreciate the small achievements. They make all the difference and add up to those major accomplishments we are all striving for.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!

Wellness Wins is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

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