Jim's Story

There are many things that have led me to this point in my journey; I’ll just bring up some points from the last few years. 

January 2017, I was hiking in the woods –stepped on a frozen 4” log and broke my foot (first bone I had broken). So like any normal person –I waited 4 weeks to go to a doctor; this resulted in 16 weeks of a boot. I also ended up at an endocrinologist –who said that I wasn’t absorbing enough calcium and wanted me to eat dairy 5 to 7 times per day. By January 2018 my calcium absorption wasn’t any better (and my weight was up a lot).

Then I found out in December of 2017 that a corticosteroid that I used to take (many years ago) was supposed to be similar to 0.2 of a daily dose of Prednisone –but instead it was equivalent to 3.2 daily doses of Prednisone per day. This caused lots of fat storage. (Recovering from this is one of my challenges yet today (and I still need a daily corticosteroid –just not as strong).

From December 2017 through February of 2018 I monitored and measured every calorie that I ate; and worked out 6 days a week (yeah!!). I lost a total of 3 pounds –and could barely move. I had a bone on bone issue going on in my lower back and the orthopedic surgeon said that it was probably going to require spinal fusion, however, we'd try therapy first.

In April of 2018 I was talking with my sister (who had just gone through an amazing health turn around) about what was the difference? What made it happen for her? She said that she had to finally VALUE herself; and even though it may be expensive, spending money on the right foods and supplements had to come first—(or she may not be here for it to matter).

So in April of 2018 I started eating a high quality protein, low carbohydrate diet where I was going to eat the right thing (and be concerned about the expense later). I was doing exercises for my back and going to therapy every week (where they put me in traction –to try and rejuvenate any part of a disc that may be left). I started to lose weight and get more movement back to my body. The expenses were mounting. Between therapy costs and nutrition I was going backwards every month.

What was this VALUE yourself thing? I mean—I value myself but as almost anyone who has kids know their needs come first (even if they are adults), and for most of us who have spouses, their needs are first also. Then… we can value ourselves—right(?). It took me a while then I figured out how I needed to look at it: I needed to value myself as much as God does. To me this means to value myself without compromise. I still take care of my kids and spouse—but you know what??—sometimes I am the priority……sometimes my health comes first.

Once my back was better I started exercising more and pushing the weight loss. I had backed off on some of the dairy (too many carbs) –and was eating a lot of collards, kale, brussels sprouts, and turnip greens (mixed in with grass-fed and organic animal proteins). By the Fall of 2018 I needed the next step and I was so blessed that my place of employment, brought in a great organization (FUSE Fitness) to work with the employees and to improve their well-being.

I loved learning about Fuse's program. I thought I was getting enough daily protein (120-140 grams) but I really needed much more (180 to 200 grams). It was great to get a lean body ratio; a more structured exercise plan; and wade into My Fitness Pal.

I went back to the endocrinologist in December of 2018. She was not only shocked by the weight loss –but was overwhelmed by how good my calcium absorption was (and all of my nutrition #s). The nutrition and fitness plan my coach had created for me was working.

In January of this year I continued with FUSE at my workplace but I also started going to FUSE in Elk River on a regular basis (and joining their challenges). I struggled with many-- Many things at FUSE (just ask Conner).  For example –I couldn’t do a 6” inch box jump (not enough strength—and too much weight).

Fast Forward to Hustle for the Muscle –and what has changed in the last 6 weeks
  1. I have been doing lunges (for decades) with my back foot at a 45 degree angle (this was how the military trained me). Once Nicole and Jackie convinced me to change it—(to straight back)--my Quad strength has improved dramatically.  A few weeks ago Jules had me doing box jumps on an 18” box.

  2. At the beginning of this challenge my Dumbbell snatches were using a 25 pound weight (and Nicole wanted me to be at 70 pounds by the end of May ---WHAT?)—back on the 18th of May I was doing 60 pound snatches (Yeahhh!)

  3. With many of the coaches help I have doubled the weight that I use on RDLs.

  4. On May 18th I was to do multiple squats with 235# (One year earlier I was going to therapy laying on a traction table and looking at probably needing back fusion).


I know this is only 1 step of many on my path –but what a great step it has been!

I am so blessed to have such a supportive family, such amazing coaches, a great work-out community at work & at FUSE Fitness; and with God’s grace I am looking forward to the next step!


Jim St. Aoro