One of my favorite aspects of fitness blogging is the privilege of interacting with inspirational people. A few weeks ago I ran across the video/story of Jon Calvo. As far as I’m concerned, this guy is simply in a class all by himself as far as transformations go. I was blown away when I watched his video (posted below). At 5’5″ and weighing over 340 lb., Jon’s body fat was over 50%.
Read this interview, watch his video (posted below), and prepare to be inspired!
Kevin: Jon, I’d first like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Why don’t you first tell us a little bit about yourself (work, life, where you live, etc.)?
Jon: Thank you very much for this opportunity, Kevin. I’m currently living in Wichita, Kansas at the moment, but I never stay in one place for too long. I grew up as an army brat, so I’m accustomed to moving around every two years or so. Most of my teenage and adult life was spent living overseas in Seoul, Korea. I recently moved back to the United States after graduating with a bachelor’s in criminal justice last December in Korea.
Kevin: You say in the video that you’ve been overweight ever since you were a “little kid.” What was it like to growing up with a weight problem?
Jon: Growing up with a weight problem was a challenge. I recall not knowing exactly why my metabolism was so different than my brother’s even though we ate the same food. There are also a lot of emotional issues that individuals that are obese have to deal with on a regular basis. I’ve always been someone who is against bullying and stands up for others. As a child, I never allowed myself, or others, to be bullied. The real challenge, though, didn’t begin until I was older. As an adult, I found myself being ridiculed by people for the first time.
Kevin: You mentioned trying to lose weight “dozens of times” and failing. Why do you think you were previously unsuccessful?
Jon: This is a question that I get asked a lot, but I still have yet to find a definitive answer to it. There are many things that come to mind when I think of why I was previously unsuccessful, but the thing that sticks out the most is mindset. My mindset this time around was much different than previous times. Instead of trying to lose weight, I was going to lose weight no matter what I faced along the way. I started seeing it as a long-term journey rather than a short term burst of “success.” There is a quote by Yoda from Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back that says, “Do… or do not. There is no try.” There is a lot of truth in that quote.
Kevin: One thing I noticed is even in your “before” video you have a certain look of determination in your eyes. You do a 360 for the camera as if you know the “after” is going to be a drastic change. What was it that “clicked” for you? What was it that made you say, “this is it—I’m doing this”?
Jon: Back then, I had the determination to succeed, but I never imagined the changes to be as drastic as they are now. The thing that really helped make it “click” for me was when I started being ridiculed on a consistent basis. I was living in Korea back in 2007-2009 at the time, and during that time, both Koreans and Americans would say some pretty hurtful things to my face. As I mentioned before, I have always been someone to stand up for others and myself. Before I began my weight loss journey in 2010, however, I felt so helpless, weak, and dehumanized. There was something within myself that wanted to feel empowered as I once did so long ago. I did say, “this is it—I’m doing this,” when I first began, but I said it in fear. I knew that there was no turning back; no matter what I was to face along the way.
Kevin: Your transformation has taken around 2 ½ years. Did you ever get impatient? What do you think kept you going this long?
Jon: I became impatient many times, as I’m thinking many people would have. I had so much weight to lose, and I knew it wasn’t going to be quick. Despite knowing that fact, the multiple weight loss plateaus I faced along the way caused me to become impatient.
Kevin: Did you experience any serious setbacks (injuries, etc.)?
Jon: When I was 11, I had a spiral fracture that broke my right femur in 3-pieces. That setback right there caused me to gain even more weight, and prevented me from doing any kind of physical activity for a few years. That injury is no longer a problem for me, and I haven’t experienced any others since then.
Kevin: Did you ever have weight loss plateaus? How did you overcome them?
Jon: I had two primary weight loss plateaus, and I overcame both of them through switching my methods up. My first weight loss plateau was when I was 290. I had been following a low-fat, high-protein, and high-carbohydrate diet to lose the previous 50 pounds, but I finally reached that point where weight loss slowed to a halt. Around the beginning of the plateau, my brother introduced me to the Paleo diet while visiting me in Korea. It took me a while to become convinced, but once I did, the Paleo diet was something that I followed religiously for the next year or two. I ended up going from 290 to 208, but around August of 2011, I hit my second plateau. This weight loss plateau would last an entire year, and would even see me gaining back up to 235. Despite how long and grueling the plateau was, however, it didn’t break my spirit.
Kevin: I know you practice intermittent fasting. Why did you decide to go with this particular approach?
Jon: Yes, I’m a dedicated practitioner of intermittent fasting, but I didn’t start off with this method. It was something I initially heard about during my yearlong plateau, and it was something I definitely considered at the time. Even though I considered it, my loyalty to the Paleo diet prevented me from trying it. The idea of eating carbohydrates, for one thing, after believing them to be the vilest of enemies for so long was what held me back. It wasn’t until five months after hearing about intermittent fasting, stepping on a scale, and seeing how much weight I really gained, that I decided to give it a try.
Kevin: Let’s say you are talking face-to-face with someone who is about to go on a long weight loss journey like yours. What would you say?
Jon: I would tell them to know that there are times when you will fail, but that failure is one with your success. A weight loss journey is like riding horseback for a thousand miles. If you fall, do not revert back to where you started by turning your horse around. Instead, get back up and continue moving forward. Your conviction, perseverance, and self-discipline are your greatest allies. All the motivation and willpower that you could ever seek is within you. As cliché as that sounds, it really is as simple as that. If you examine yourself, you will find it. When you find it, you will realize it. When you realize it, you will know that nothing can stop you; not even yourself.
Kevin: What’s next for you?
Jon: I’m currently finalizing my weight loss at the moment. I’ve reached 7% body fat, and am now moving towards the 6% range. I plan to begin a slow-bulk caloric split of -10%/+40% on my rest and workout days. A lot of people have been wondering how I feel about my excess skin, but it really isn’t something that bothers me at all. I initially had plans to pursue surgery for my excess skin, but after careful consideration on top of plans not working out due to a couple of monetary issues, I’ll be holding off on it. I’ve tried nearly every natural trick in the book to aid improving excess skin except for one. If you’ve heard of it, I’ve more than likely tried it. There is one more thing, however, that I’m about to be trying in the coming weeks and months. It’s a nutritional method that utilizes all 90 essential nutrients along with a few other supplements for bone and joint health. If it works, it’ll take about 3 months to see results.
Kevin: Thanks again, Jon. Your transformation is incredible and I know your story will be a great inspiration to many.
Jon: Thanks again for this opportunity, Kevin.
Here’s Jon’s Youtube video: