RICHMOND, Va. — When he was 17, Staff Sgt. Roger Jackson struggled with his weight. At 5 feet, 7 inches tall, he weighed in at around 250 pounds.
“Over the years, I had been made fun of, bullied, talked about, put down, denied certain extracurricular activities, criticized, etcetera because of my weight,” Jackson said. None of that did much to boost his self-esteem or confidence, but eventually he decided to try out for his high school’s basketball team.
As a bigger guy, he was nervous, but took to training outside the basketball season and trained alongside the cross-country team. In the beginning, Jackson was running 15-minute miles, but he quickly grew to love running. As his endurance and speed improved, he started to take fitness and nutrition more seriously. Now, he’s 5 feet, 8 inches, 170 pounds, has spent eight years in the Virginia National Guard and is currently assigned to the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. Today he boasts a personal best mile of 5:13.
Jackson crossed paths with a recruiter when he was a college student.
“I was a student of Christopher Newport University, paying my way through college when my recruiter informed me of some of the benefits and opportunities of the military,” he said. “I went back and forth with myself about the idea before finally deciding, ‘why not?’”
By the time Jackson decided he wanted to join the military, he was physically ready. At 20, he enlisted as an 88M Motor Transport Operator and used tuition assistance benefits to pay for his undergraduate degree.
Jackson hopes to attend the U.S. Army Master Fitness Trainer Course to help him enhance his knowledge and to enable him to help others reach success in their fitness endeavors as well.
My main goal or purpose in life is to help others in whatever capacity,” Jackson said. “At this point, I want to help others realize their potential and that they can do anything they want to. But they must make that decision for themselves.”
Today, Jackson’s fitness routine includes regular cardio and strength training and he’s learned a lot about how to properly fuel and feed his body to accommodate and support his activity level.
“While I do continue to push myself, my goal is balance,” Jackson said. “I do my best to achieve balance in the realms of fitness, diet, sleep, and mindfulness to keep myself conditioned.”
For others working on their own weight loss journey, Jackson said success comes down to dedications and goal setting.
“Start your journey: make your decision, set your goal and get after it with full force,” Jackson said. “Even when you reach your goal, do not settle there, keep striving forward to maintain and continue being the best version of yourself.”
Listening to supportive voices is also an important part of the journey, according to Jackson, along with support from friends and family.
“They’re the ones in your corner and want to see you succeed and grow,” he said. “Don’t pay attention to the ones that say you can’t do it. If it’s something you want, do it and prove that you were right.”