Jon McLernon’s heart was racing.
“Go to the hospital,” a voice screamed inside his head. “You’re dying.”
But he wasn’t dying, and he knew it. Years of career changes, international moves, extreme diet and exercise plans, injuries, and trauma from a violent incident overseas were all taking their toll.
He was having yet another panic attack.
He longed for comfort. But it was the middle of the night. His wife was asleep, and he didn’t want to wake her.
Plus, he didn’t want her to know.
He was a man, after all. He was supposed to be strong, right?
That’s why she called him the tin man.
The then-35-year-old quietly shuffled to the couch.
It seemed like the attacks were striking all the time now, despite the medication he took to treat them. Jon, who lives in Red Deer, Alberta, was suffering from so many panic attacks that he stopped going to the public places that triggered them, including the gym.
Instead, he squashed his uncomfortable emotions—guilt, shame, anger—with a familiar friend: food. The emotional eating combined with little to no exercise caused his weight to climb. At the beginning of 2017, he reached 290 pounds.
And he felt like a failure. He’d struggled with his weight since his early 20s, when he’d been sidelined from sports by a motorcycle accident. Since then, 6-foot-1 Jon longed to get back to his old athletic self.
“I looked back at who I was, and who I had become, and I felt so discouraged.”
Over the years, Jon had lost and regained a lot of weight. He’d tried so many diets and exercise strategies: keto, kettlebells, macro counting, HIIT workouts—you name it.
He tended to look for a quick, extreme fix. “I kept thinking, ‘I’ve just got to do this for 12 weeks, and then I’m done.’”
But because he was always all-or-nothing with his efforts, life had a tendency to get in the way, and his weight would balloon back up.
Jon knew he needed to do something before he landed back at his all-time high: 328 pounds. So he figured he’d just do what he’d always done: “white knuckle” through another extreme diet and exercise plan.
“I’ll just keep powerlifting two hours a day. Sleeping five hours a night. Working 14 hours a day. I’ll just beat myself harder, and my body will respond.”
A nutrition coach who helped run a supplement store, Jon knew a lot about health. But despite everything he knew about exercise and nutrition, his tactics weren’t working.
“I thought, ‘How can I know all this stuff and still not succeed?’”
Jon even tried working with two nutrition coaches. But he couldn’t stick to the rigid meal plans they were assigning him, which just made him feel worse: “That really made me almost self-destruct,” he says.
By the summer of 2017, Jon was exhausted and miserable. Luckily, during one of his many nutrition research sessions, he stumbled across Precision Nutrition.
“Maybe they can help me…”
With PN, he immediately realized the approach would be different: Less focus on extreme diets and exercise programs, and more focus on sustainable changes. “They were speaking to me differently than I was used to,” he says.
So he took a leap of faith and signed up for Precision Nutrition Coaching.
Jon was surprised to discover that Scott Quick, his PN Coach, was nothing like his previous nutrition coaches who’d berated him for failing to count and track his macros.
“There was nothing judgmental about his approach. He didn’t talk to me like I was a failure. He didn’t talk to me with this expectation that I was going to let him down.”
Coach Scott met Jon’s efforts with compassion. And Jon wasn’t sure how to handle it. “Even then, I didn’t accept it with open arms,” Jon remembers.
But all that was about to change.
One day, Coach Scott asked Jon to make a list of everything that was important to him.
Then, Coach Scott followed up with a key question: “How far down the list do I have to go before I find Jon?”
The question hit Jon hard. “I was like, ‘Holy crap. Why don’t I love myself?’”
“I sat there and I actually cried,” he says.
Despite everything he’d tried—all the diets, exercise routines, supplement regimens—Jon realized he’d been missing a crucial piece. Until now, he never considered what he needed.
After years of keeping his emotions in a locked box, Jon finally allowed himself to feel. And Coach Scott was there to support him.
“He said, ‘It’s okay to feel these things.’ And that was a foreign message to me,” Jon says.
Jon even decided to tell his wife that he was having panic attacks. “Of course, she didn’t respond at all like I thought she would. She responded with compassion and care and concern.”
Now, Jon was ready to start working smarter instead of harder.
Previously, Jon would have scoffed at simple nutrition strategies like these. But he was committed to letting go of his all-or-nothing approach.
He agreed to follow Coach Scott’s advice and start small, by practicing tiny daily actions consistently—instead of trying to overhaul his whole life at once. “Over time, it started to pay off,” Jon recalls.
His self-awareness grew. He recognized his pattern of emotional eating and sought out other, healthier outlets for his anxiety, like doing a few minutes of meditation each day.
Most of all, Jon started to prioritize himself and his own well-being. No more beating himself up, physically or emotionally.
“I’m not putting excessive demands on myself now,” he says. “Instead of trying to punish my body into health, I’m celebrating what I can do.”
Today, Jon is down 60 pounds since starting with PN.
While Jon’s certainly proud of his weight loss, he’s even happier with his inner transformation.
Jon’s wife no longer refers to him as a “tin man.” The intense and unsustainable diets? Gone. So are the nightly panic attacks.
“I got my life back,” he says. “And my wife got her husband back.”
Even better, Jon has taken what he learned during his PN Coaching experience and applied it with his own clients. He’s now a Precision Nutrition Level 2 Master Coach with a thriving business, Freedom Nutrition Coaching.
“It’s given me the sense of fulfillment I was always looking for—of being a part of something bigger than myself.”
Thriving mentally, physically, and emotionally, Jon has discovered deep health. Not just for twelve weeks, but for life.
Try It Now
One of the most powerful tactics Jon used to lose weight successfully: prioritizing his needs so he could consistently make time for himself.
We’re all busy, and we’re all surrounded by distractions (hello smart phone) along with people and situations that grab our attention. On top of this, many of us want to please and help others, which can make us feel guilty when we take time for ourselves.
Problem is: If we don’t make time for ourselves, we won’t consistently find time to do what’s needed—plan meals, shop for healthy foods, exercise—to reach our goals.
That’s why listing what’s most important to you is such a powerful tactic, says Coach Scott. “It gets very real, very fast,” he says. “It can be humbling, mind-blowing, and mind-opening.”
To try it for yourself, do the following:
- Grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.
- Make a list of every person, activity, and thing you love, value, and hold dear.
- Take a look at your list. Where do you fall on it? Do you make the cut?
For some people, this ultra-simple exercise is an immediate game-changer. Other people, however, struggle with their new revelations, wondering, “Yeah I realize I should move myself up the list, but…how?”
If the latter describes you, Coach Scott recommends yet another set of questions: Why do you feel this is a struggle? Why are you hesitating? What’s holding you back?
If you worry about competing priorities (for example, spending time with your kids) or letting others down, consider how you might say “Me, Too” instead of “Me, First,” says Coach Scott. In other words, how do you prioritize yourself and the people you love rather than choosing just one or the other?
For example, perhaps you could:
- Include your family in your nutrition and fitness activities. For example, during a family celebration, could you say, “I’d like to go for a quick walk. Would anyone like to join me?”
- Communicate your goals with coworkers and family members so they understand, for example, why you want to make time to prep food or go to sleep 30 minutes earlier than usual.
- Ask for help. Imagine your daily routine. How might you move yourself—and especially your health and fitness goals—up your priority list while at home, at work, while traveling? What obstacles stand in your way? What small actions might family, coworkers, and friends take to help you overcome those obstacles?
And keep in mind: Yes, this is hard work. Change is uncomfortable. But so is stagnation, says Coach Scott. “It takes courage and discomfort to move yourself up the list,” he says. “But it’s okay to struggle because struggling means it’s important to you.”
Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?
Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.
That’s why we work closely with Precision Nutrition Coaching clients to help them lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health… no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.
It’s also why we work with health, fitness and wellness professionals (through our Level 1 and Level 2 Certification programs) to teach them how to coach their own clients through the same challenges.
Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list; you’ll save up to 54% and secure a spot 24 hours early.
We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Wednesday, January 13th, 2021.
If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, we encourage you to join our presale list below. Being on the list gives you two special advantages.
- You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
- You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.
If you’re ready to become the fittest, strongest, healthiest version of yourself with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.
[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].