A firefighter battles beyond the blaze

August 11, 2016

A firefighter battles beyond the blaze

I know "the bear" very well. You see all of my life I've had the bear chasing me. You'll see from the attached photo's that i used to be a fairly large person. In fact all of my life i was the little chubby fat kid. I wore husky size pants, took the least amount of PE required in school and always stayed within my own crowd of other chubby people. I became the class clown to try and over shadow my very low self esteem.

When i was 27 i started my dream job of being a firefighter. I was 218 lbs when i got hired. I pushed myself hard because i refused to be the slowest guy in the class.
When your heavy, you see people looking at you like they are sizing you up thinking how is the fat guy gonna help me? I still felt like I was that chubby boy from all those years ago. But yet i pushed hard every day and performed my job to the best of my ability. At recruit graduation i was assigned to one of the busiest stations in town. I knew i had to work hard. But yet i was still faced with much teasing and scutiny from my peers.
I never let my size hold me back, i went through several rigorous training evolutions including high angle rescue that included rappeling over a 16 story building to the ground. Once during confined space training, we were required to tunnel through a concrete pipe that was about 36" in diameter. During the evolution, a firefighter would enter the pipe from opposite ends and you was required to "pass" each other inside the pipe wearing full turn out gear. Of course no one wanted to be that guy that had to be paired with me. Well needless to say we both laughed after we made it through, to everyone's surpise they thought we would give up. The bear tried hard that day to eat me but i refused to let him.

Fast forward 30 years, yes you read that right, to age 47 and I had reached my highest weight at 310lbs. A month after my 47th birthday, something in my brain just clicked. I was tired of looking in the mirror and seeing a reflection that wasn't the man i knew i could be.

I began a very rigorous diet change and exercise plan. I started jogging on my street. Being so heavy it was difficult. After a month i decided to do what i never thought i would do, and that was join a gym. The best decision i ever made. It was literally difficult to walk inside that gym at first because i thought everyone there was going to be the perfect model of fitness, which i discovered there were others like me, but yes those that were fit. I went 3 times a day of my days off. I jogged on the treadmill until it hurt and then I'd move to the elliptical.

Within about 3 months i had dropped 60 lbs. To which i would not recommend to anyone because it's not safe! I was dropping too much too quick. I finally started having black outs. The bear again was after me.

This was because i was eating nearly 0 carbs which i now know was wrong. But it worked for me. I also received advice from a trainer at the gym and started watching fitness videos and joined Instagram and started following people that i felt were giving good information and doing the right way.

I lost pretty much all of my weight within 1 years time. Most of it being within the first 6 months. I had finally reached my goal weight of 185 to which i hadn't weighed since high school. I had achieved losing 125lbs! Most people when they saw me didn't even realize who i was. I went from wearing 2XL shirts to a medium and 46 waist to 32(which i had never worn in my entire life).

I have to give credit to one of the most influencial people thanks to instagram, and that is Dean Fazzolari. ( Honestly I'm not sucking up here evidenced by the attached pic when i finally got to meet him) His instagram page gave me many exercises to do and if i had a question he would answer me! Something to which most internet sensations hardly ever do.

Now at the age of 52, being retired from my 25 year career with the fire department, I'm in the best shape of my life. Did i ever think it was possible... To be honest...no! I had no idea what i was capable of doing once i put my mind body and soul to it.
I'm current around 194lbs with weight training nearly every day.
The bear still chases after me every single day and yes some days he is more successful than others. But I'm still "eating the bear" and winning!

Scott Johnson
Jacksonville, Fl

Age: 52

Instagram: scottj_504

Snapchat: fire4072