Although he’s only 23 years old, Maryland resident Jackson Desjardins has spent a sizable portion of his life in a dark place. And it was finding the light in himself that not only helped him lose weight, but also transform his life.
He started out as a self-described “chunky kid,” and that was linked, in part, to genetics and lifestyle, since his mother was also overweight. That changed, to some degree, when he joined the swim team in high school, which helped him get lean with daily practice and regular competitions. But, after getting into a romantic relationship and scrolling social media daily, he feels like he lost his way.
“With the relationship, I got into a comfort zone with eating more. But with social media, I’m following all these guys on Instagram who are shredded,” he says. “The combination of those caused me to fall into a binge eating disorder.”
Desjardiins would follow a healthy eating plan Monday through Wednesday, but then have one “forbidden” food item on Thursday and spend the weekend gorging on unhealthy foods, he says. On Monday morning, the cycle would start all over again.
“For four years, that was my life, leading into college,” he recalls. “When my girlfriend broke up with me, I was the heaviest I’d ever been at 300 pounds, and it just felt like the bottom of the barrel. I didn’t feel like I knew who I was, or if I ever had.”
At his lowest point, he went home for the summer. Having that time to himself — as well as seeing his mother’s changes, since she’d embraced fitness and wellness — created the fertile ground he finally needed. As a psychology major, he’d gained insight into how the mind works, and he used that to look at himself and his own beliefs. He thought about “future Jackson” more than ever, he says. What would that guy be grateful for? What could his future self become based on the changes he made now?
“That was a big mindset shift for me, to understand that what I did every day, now, would have an incredible impact on the future,” he says. “I decided to start small, just by tracking my calories. That one little step was perfect.”
Using the MyFitnessPal app, Desjardins began to tweak his eating habits based on calorie goals. He lost 80 pounds in four months, which he admits was too rapid but it did help him set new habits around eating. The binge pattern was gone, replaced by better choices and regular calorie tracking. As the weight dropped, he began going to the gym as a way to get fit — and to change his mentality about what it means to be an athlete. Instead of feeling discouraged by shredded Instagram “fitfluencers,” he shifted to watching YouTube videos by fitness experts who were empowering and encouraging.
All of it added up to changing how he saw himself, he says. The beliefs he’d seemingly cemented into place — that he’d never be fit, he wasn’t good enough, he’d always binge eat, things would always be this way — began to break more every day, and he found himself in an entirely new mindset: being excited for the future.
“I started to wonder about what else I could do, and how I could share this transformation to inspire others, the way the YouTube fitness people had inspired me,” he says.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > How Jackson lost 100 pounds by shifting his mindset. via @myftinesspal #weightloss
Desjardins made a video and put it on YouTube in 2018, detailing his journey. He made a couple more after that, and they had modest views — until YouTube started recommending his videos to its visitors. Boom. Suddenly, he had 2 million views and tons of subscribers. That’s when he decided to pivot toward creating an online coaching business and became a certified personal trainer, working in the same gym where his mother was also a trainer.
His goal now is to surpass 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel and grow his coaching business to reach more people than ever. Desjardins is determined to keep becoming the person he needed when he was at rock bottom.
“Looking back, the most important thing for me was getting rid of my limiting beliefs, and now it seems like such a simple process,” he says. “People spend too much time on the ‘how’ of weight loss and fitness and not enough on the ‘why.’ Once you take a step back and look at that, everything can change. This is not about losing weight as much as it’s about: Who do you want to be?”
Inspired by the success of real MyFitnessPal users? Now it’s time to reach your own goals! Take the next step in your journey and go Premium for exclusive tools and guidance from our experts that will help you achieve any goal.