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Your weight plays a major role in determining the kinds of health risks that may affect you. Some of the more negative effects include heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, and depression. People may not seek medical help or change certain habits, but those who do often become incredible examples of physical and mental transformation.

The story of Novi, Michigan’s Jesse Shand who was once over 700 pounds has surfaced on the internet again. His journey of taking life back truly began in 2013 and continues to be a timeless source of inspiration and hope for people everywhere.[1]

The Reality of Obesity in America

In a 2014 Journal of American Medicine study, researchers attempted to provide national estimates for obesity in the US.

After analyzing about a decade of obesity trends they found that:

  • 36.5% of American adults battle with obesity [2]
  • 40.2% are forty to fifty-nine years old [3]
  • 37% are sixty or older
  • 32.3% are aged twenty to thirty-nine
  • the prevalence of obesity was higher in women than in men by 4%

The fact that obesity rates grew and declined very minimally over the study’s period, researchers concluded that this area requires ongoing surveillance.[3] In this case, little to no change is not a positive takeaway for the US.

In two other meta-analyses including tens of studies and thousands of people, researchers found that:

  • People with obesity had an increased likelihood of having depression than people with healthier weights.[4]
  • There is a reciprocal link between obesity and depression.[5]

Coupling obesity with rates of depression and seeing no significant changes to nationwide obesity can be saddening. This is why life-changing stories like Jesse Shand’s are worth spreading.

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They reveal a deep, human truth – that we can do amazing things with the help of other people.

Jesse Shand’s Battle with Obesity

We mentioned that Jesse’s journey started in 2013 but that isn’t entirely true. Although that year marked a positive step, he spent years in anger and frustration.

“I spent my days playing video games and trolling the internet…I was just all negativity, all of the time.”[1]

However, it wasn’t until a bodybuilding community that Jesse had been ridiculing asked him to post a photo of himself that he began to think differently. Instead of lashing out against him, bodybuilders and others simply following the dialogue chose to reach out and help Jesse.

He also decided to make his journey public (which you can read in detail here) with food and exercise logs, pictures, and vlogs to create a sort of digital diary. Technology and community enabled people to hold Jesse accountable throughout his journey. And the fact that they wanted to help shows how much they care about him and the well-being of people, their health, and trying to make the most of the physical bodies we have been given.

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“It really showed me that even on the internet, the kindness of strangers can completely change your life,” Jesse shared. “They’re the ones who took me under their wings and believed in me long before I believed in myself.”[1]

From barbells and dumbbells to an outdoor shower and a kiddie pool so that he could bathe for the first time in over a year, the community that Jesse had accidentally found himself in brought comfort and care to a struggling individual.

Tips That Helped Jesse

(You can view these tips in more detail on Bodybuilding.com)

  • Seek out support! Surrounding yourself with like-minded people. It helps hold you accountable, learn new things, and develop good habits.
  • Educate yourself! Learning about the dangers of processed and pre-packaged foods can change your perspective on what you put into your body.
  • Stick to consistent exercise and meal plans!
  • Use supplements (carefully and under the direction of a medical healthcare professional)!

The Challenging Journey

Jesse lost about four-hundred pounds which brought him closer and closer to his goal weight of two-hundred-twenty pounds. However, his weight loss has resulted in excess skin which prevents him from running well or playing sports, and causes painful rashes that can lead to more serious infections. Not to mention that invasive surgery to remove the excess skin would require three operations and about twenty-thousand dollars.[6]

But without fail when it comes to the things that truly matter, kind strangers from all over have contributed to his GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign. In a year and a half, seven-hundred-sixty-seven people have given to Jesse’s cause for a whopping total of $20,500!

Where Jesse Is Now

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On January 15, 2017, Jesse posted his GoFundMe campaign’s second update with a progress report, an injury he suffered, and where he stands now that he has the funds for surgery.

In the spring of 2016, his journey took a turn. Interestingly, Jesse found the process of weight loss easier than the social aspect that came with it. Losing weight had given him some confidence, resulted in a job he loved and still works at, allowed him to try dating and building friendships again.

“My personality just hadn’t adjusted, I had not caught up to my weight loss, my social abilities had not quite matched it,” said Jesse. “So, I wasn’t seeing the results I was hoping for…I wasn’t feeling confident about myself at all…and if I’m not there yet, I’m not going to be.”[7]

This disconnect resulted in negative feelings that led to binge eating heavily the same amount of food he ate when he was seven-hundred pounds, drinking craft beer, and a weight gain of at least one-hundred pounds. Jesse acknowledges the struggles of now having to work long hours and living a more social life, too. He leads a different lifestyle than he did before and since he’s not unemployed, he has less time to exercise.

But Jesse has gotten back on track since then and deeply apologized for letting his supporters down. He also vows to start updating his community more often with Instagram posts of his meals and regular food logs.[7]

Ultimately, Jesse recognizes the value of technology and community, and how “having this kind of support makes it so that [he] can stay away for awhile, but eventually [has] to face it…look [himself] in the mirror…and own up to [his] mistakes.”

So…

Are you someone who needed this story? Do you know someone who could use this inspiration? Share it today to help change a life tomorrow.

[1] http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/350-pounds-and-counting-jesse-shands-incredible-journey.html

[2] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.pdf

[3] http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/1832542

[4] https://web.archive.org/web/20120126062641/http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20462641?dopt=Citation

[5] https://web.archive.org/web/20161009000357/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20194822?dopt=Citation

[6] https://www.gofundme.com/wetty

[7] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9wl7Acmcj0

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