"Thus far, I don't have any goals other than to give my all and push myself far beyond my comfort zone."
Seven months ago, Jeremy Jouette weighed 340 pounds and while he could wear a smile in a room full of people, in private it was a different story.
“I was always depressed, never in a very good mood and just [had] a genuinely piss poor attitude,” he says.
This month, Jouette will be one of the thousands of CrossFitters competing in the Open.
His physical and emotional transformation in such a short period of time is nothing short of extraordinary and a testament to both his iron will and the efficacy of lifestyle changes involving diet and exercise.
Growing up in Louisiana, Jouette wasn’t the most active kid. Because of his weight, he failed to make it through football tryouts in middle school. He was a member of the parish baseball team one summer while he was in high school, but by his own admission he was “the fat kid that couldn’t hit, couldn’t catch or couldn’t throw but somehow ended up on the team with all of the all-stars.”
Fast forward a few years to June 2011. Jouette was 29 years old, working as a technician for a local phone company, and ready to make changes to his life. He walked into CrossFit Virtus in Gonzales, La., a “nervous wreck.” Over the next hour and a half, owner and head coach Cecil Piazza introduced him to the basic CrossFit movements using a PVC pipe. Then Jouette did a foundations workout as a baseline.
“Within that hour or two he made me feel much more comfortable about the program and I was very excited to get started,” Jouette says. “After that, I attended their open box session that following Saturday and officially joined on July 1st.”
Jouette soon began to see results. Before CrossFit, he could run no farther than 100 yards before having to stop. Now, he runs a sub 10-minute mile. He is close to getting his first handstand push-up with full range of motion, and has also experienced significant gains in strength.
A commitment to the paleo diet – “I’m 100 percent paleo, 90 percent of the time” – has led to Jouette losing 110 pounds in seven months.
“The transformation has been much quicker than I anticipated, which I think is a testament to the effectiveness of the programming that goes on at CrossFit Virtus, as well as the paleo diet,” he says.
Jouette is slimmer, stronger and more self-confident. Given his new approach to life — one which embraces challenges — it’s not surprising at all that he signed up to compete in the CrossFit Games Open.
“First and foremost, I can use the Open to gauge where my performance stands amongst a much broader spectrum of athletes,” he says. “While I have no expectations of being able to perform all of the WODs as prescribed, I will give 110 percent of myself to these workouts.”
Jouette also views the Open as a good excuse to get another workout under his belt. “I’m almost at the point of being addicted to working out. I look forward to an excuse to get in another WOD, so [the Open] just provides additional motivation to do so.”
To prepare, he’s added to his CrossFit regimen a running program called C25K, which has already brought improvements in terms of cardiovascular endurance.
“Don’t get me wrong. I still don’t like it [running], but I’m getting to the point where I look forward to getting a good ‘coward practice’ session in to push myself just that much further,” Jouette says.
In one sense, the Open should prove a low-key experience, as he hasn’t set any concrete or specific goals. But that’s not the same thing as saying he doesn’t have any expectations for himself.
“Thus far I don’t really have any set goals other than to give my all and push myself far beyond my comfort zone,” he says. “I would love to complete as many of the WODs prescribed as possible, but at this point in my fitness, I am still struggling with gymnastics movements so it’s very likely that I will have to scale some things.”
Jouette believes he’s about 60 pounds away from making real progress with the gymnastics movements.
He’s looking forward to seeing the workouts and giving it all he’s got. But he concedes it’s hard to gauge whether he’s “nervous, excited, indifferent, or a combination of all three.”
Similarly, he’s not sure he would go so far as to call himself an athlete. “I’m certainly more athletic than I envisioned that I’d be at this point in time. I can run farther, harder, and faster and lift more in different ways than I thought I’d be able to,” he says.
He may hesitate to call himself an athlete, but thanks to CrossFit, Jouette says he feels like an athlete.
In the end, maybe this metric — how you feel about yourself — is the only one that really matters.