Man Who Lost His Uncle in the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Tragedy Finds New Purpose in Fitness | Men's Health
Jordan Withers, a.k.a. Jordan Withers, successfully completed a remarkable ultra-marathon of 100 miles (approximately 161 kilometers) just the other day. Currently 31 years old (as of August 2023), Withers' progress is truly impressive, considering that just a year and a half ago, he couldn't even complete a 5-kilometer distance.
Not only did he finish the ultra-marathon held under harsh conditions with a temperature of 30 degrees, but he also achieved an astonishing 12th place at the finish line. "It was sweltering. If I were running along the coast of Ibiza Island, it might still be pleasant... But it was a course full of hills, with poor road conditions and lots of dust. It may have been a foolish challenge," reflects Withers.
There is no doubt that Withers' ultra-marathon result is commendable. Moreover, this is just one of the many feats accomplished by Withers after undergoing a year and a half of physical transformation.
Not only did he rise from a lawyer's assistant to a lawyer, but he also purchased his own home. According to Withers' calculations, this achievement was made possible by the confidence gained from successfully losing approximately 31 kilograms, which is equivalent to "30,000 ping pong balls, one queen-sized mattress, two car tires, four bowling balls, one bear cub, or 96,000 tea bags" in weight.
Through an interview with the Wizards, a realization was made that there is indeed a moment of significant change that determines one's subsequent fate in life. Now, I laugh and say, "I'm called Jordan Wizards 2.0 by my friends." The Wizards before the transformation were a completely different person... Furthermore, my beloved uncle Glen Thomas, who is no longer with us, was aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), which was shot down in 2014. That tragedy also had a profound impact on the Wizards' life.
※ Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Shoot-Down Incident... On July 17, 2014, a regular passenger flight of Malaysia Airlines was shot down over eastern Ukraine, resulting in the death of all 283 passengers and 15 crew members.
Before losing his uncle, the Wizards was just an ordinary young man living in the town of Blackpool in the northwest of England. At the age of 21, he had just graduated from university and, like other young people of his age, was searching for his place in the world. The Wizards had been familiar with fitness since childhood, but it was evident that overeating pizza and indulging in a beer-filled college life had a negative impact on his physical well-being.
After graduating from university, the Wizards began to live with his uncle Thomas, who resided in Switzerland. Thomas was a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO). Then, one day, tragedy struck. "My uncle flew from Geneva to Amsterdam, and then transferred to the MH17 flight departing from Amsterdam, heading towards Malaysia. Unfortunately, he was on that flight. It was the plane shot down by a Buk missile (9K37 Buk - a medium-to-low altitude air defense missile system developed in the Soviet Union) fired by separatists supported by Russia (separatism refers to the pursuit of ethnic, religious, or racial minorities seeking independence or separation from the central government)," the Wizards shakes his head.
"As that incident became a thing of the past, I was in a terrible state physically and mentally."
Wizards, who lost his uncle in the shooting incident, found himself suddenly thrust into the spotlight as a kind of spokesperson for the victims' families. He not only gave interviews to the media, but also appeared multiple times on the BBC documentary program. However, as the news became a thing of the past, even the newspapers about the shooting incident became nothing more than fish and chips wrapping paper... At that time, Wizards completely neglected his own care and lost sight of the purpose of his life, and he was in a pretty bad state both physically and mentally.
"I was already overweight, but from there, I rapidly gained even more weight, approaching 120 kilos. My diet was in complete disarray, and I also distanced myself from sports I used to love, such as soccer, tennis, and golf," Wizards recalls. "I felt depressed and couldn't exercise, and the lack of exercise made me even more depressed. It was a vicious cycle. I just kept on eating, it was the worst."
"It took a whopping 8 years for me to recover from the shock of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shooting incident," Wizards says. During that time, Wizards relied on various therapies. He also says he underwent quite expensive therapies. However, in his depressed and shrunk psychological state, even the interactive therapies were of no help. One day, Wizards broke down in tears in front of his mother. Unable to bear seeing him like that, his mother suggested trying the personal trainer program "Lifestyle Lean," which his sister had recently joined.
Everything was overwhelming and I couldn't handle it anymore, so I ended up crying," says Mr. Wizards. "I thought things were going downhill. I was in a terrible state of mind and nothing seemed to go right. I finally mustered up the courage to call Mr. Mark Ross, the founder of Lifestyle Lean, and during that phone call, I broke down in tears again. I was asked about my goals, but I didn't even know what I wanted. They asked if I wanted six-pack abs. I replied, 'Sure, that sounds good.' They encouraged me to focus on my true desires. Looking back, that conversation with Mark motivated me," recalls Mr. Wizards.
"He must have known that I was crying on the phone not because I wanted six-pack abs. Mark is not a psychiatrist, but based on his experience of supporting numerous body transformations, he realized that this wasn't just a weight issue. He has great insight," he adds.
"Despite this, everything wasn't smooth sailing until version 2.0, a year and a half after that phone call. When I first started my body transformation journey, I had doubts about whether I should rely on an outgoing and confident personal trainer," he admits.
However, even after that phone call until version 2.0, everything wasn't going well. When Mr. Wizards first began his body transformation journey, he had doubts about whether he should rely on an outgoing and confident personal trainer.
"When I opened Instagram, I saw confident people proudly showing off their six-pack abs, which actually made me feel inferior," he recalls. Nevertheless, he somehow managed to take part in his first session. But at that point, he still didn't even know what he was trying to do. "I went about a week without eating anything and then was suddenly criticized," reflects Mr. Wizards. "I wondered what the point of losing weight was... you know?
First, I started with a program of going to the gym three times a week, running twice a week, and walking 10,000 steps every day. I also made a change in my diet, shifting to a focus on balance and cutting out pizza and takeout. I received advice to prioritize protein intake, such as lean beef, turkey mince, chicken, and salmon. The training for "Lifestyle Lean" is done remotely. I joined the community introduced by Mr. Ross and started learning every day, not only about what my goals are but also why I have them.
It wasn't all smooth sailing, as mentioned above.
Once I achieved a 15-kilogram weight loss, Mr. Withers says, "I fell into the trap of Instagram." As my physical changes became noticeable to people. "I thought, 'I'm fine now. I've completely regained my perfect shape,'" he says. Once you fall into that trap, it's quite difficult to get out of it," he says. The reason Mr. Withers was able to continue his training was solely because of Mr. Ross' presence and the responsibility he had there. In the end, after a year and a half of training, he finally achieved his long-awaited six-pack. Now, it's finally time for the photoshoot preparation.
To imprint the image of his former self and what he had accomplished in his memory, Mr. Withers brought a printed "Before" photo in A5 size to the studio.
"Even when I went anywhere in Manchester, I carried that photo with me. I have no idea what everyone thought of me. I wrote the dates when I started and completed my physical transformation on the big photo of myself when I was overweight, and added 'Jordan 1.0' and 'Jordan 2.0'. It felt like I had completely transformed into a different person. I was finally able to regain the lost eight years... but back then, I never imagined that I would transform through fitness," he said.
"I didn't understand the relationship between the body and mind until then," Mr. Withers continued. "I believed that if my mind was in order, my body would follow suit. I thought that once my mental state returned to normal, my mind would clear up and my eating habits would also become healthier... but in reality, it was the opposite."
After achieving his goals, Mr. Withers has participated in various sports, such as ultramarathons, Hyrox (cutting-edge fitness race), and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, experiencing the joy of sports. He has also made significant progress in his career. He even considers entering the fitness industry in the future.
However, the most significant thing is perhaps the ability to feel happy again. "My parents are also delighted, saying that I've returned to my teenage self. Thanks to that, my self-esteem has also increased," he concluded with a smile.
Source / Men's Health UK
Translation / Kazuki Kimura※ This translation is an excerpt.
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