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Jim McNab

This schoolteacher lost nearly 100 pounds and slashed his body fat in half – and he's just getting started.

Jim McNab


I recently came across a man named Jim McNab whose physical transformation blew me away – one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen. I reached out to Jim and asked him to share his story for the next JYM Army Profile. Well, he did just that with an articulate, well-written, first-person account of his journey from overweight and unhappy to healthy, lean and motivated to improve himself even more. Here is Jim McNab’s story, in his own words…


In thinking about my transformation, I’m sure my story is very similar to that experienced by many other people. I was never overweight or obese as a child. Growing up in Pompano Beach, Florida, I had a pretty active childhood (probably because I was a kid in a pre-Xbox generation). I spent the majority of my childhood engaged in active play: climbing trees, swimming, playing sandlot football and baseball games, etc. I was also of average weight in my 20s.

The only time I ever really attempted lifting weights was during the summer of 1992, when I joined a Gold’s Gym and started a nutrition/exercise plan with a trainer there. I got great results in a very short period of time, but my collegiate social life began to supersede anything health and fitness related, and I very quickly dropped out of the gym after about three months. Still, I didn’t start to put on weight yet.

Fast forward to age 29. I moved to rural North Carolina, got married and within a year, my wife was pregnant with our son. As she put on pregnancy weight, I did as well. I gave no care or attention to what I ate; I simply ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. This was not a good plan, especially considering my family history of heart disease, kidney issues and diabetes.

Slowly, over the course of about 15 years, my waist ballooned from 32” to 46.” My shirt size increased from a size L to XXL. I can remember the absolute and utter shame I would feel each time I put on clothes, only to find that they were too small and too tight. At the end, I was stuffing myself into size 44” pants when I really needed a size 46” because the biggest size pants my local Eddie Bauer carried was 44”. Purchasing 46” waist pants would mean admitting that I’d grown to the size that they no longer carried in the store. In other words, I’d passed into the land of having to buy “fat pants” or clothes from the Big and Tall section. This was a huge blow to what tiny shred of ego I had left.

I grew to hate mirrors and avoided them at all costs. I was disgusted with how I looked. For five or six years, I was so self-conscious that whenever we went to Florida on vacation, I wouldn’t go swimming in a pool without wearing a rash guard shirt (swim shirt). Yeah, I was that guy. I was humiliated and embarrassed down to the core of my being to be seen shirtless in public. I felt self-conscious, like people were looking at me whenever I ate out in public. The sad part is that the worse I felt, the more I seemed to turn to high-fat, sugary, processed foods to comfort me.

As a 7th grade school teacher (my current profession), I found every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t exercise or do anything. I have about an hour commute from my home to the middle school where I teach and a lot of times, I’d find myself at McDonald’s or some other drive-through after work. I was the guy who would get a gym membership and have the ID tag on my keychain – and that was about the extent of my participation at the gym. I’d tried several times in my 30s to hit the gym and take charge of my weight, but I always found an excuse to quit.

When the school year ended in 2013 and summer rolled around, I found myself left with a lot of questions. My dad had died earlier that year at age 74 of a massive stroke, after more than 20 years of heart-related issues. I wondered why he never did anything about his weight or his health. I also wondered how in the world I could have allowed myself to get so obese. I was so obese that I literally had to hold my breath to bend over and tie my shoes. I got sick and tired of being sick and tired and I wanted out of the prison I’d eaten myself into.

I couldn’t erase the image I had of my dad after his stroke as he struggled to speak and was frustrated at his inability to communicate in even the most basic way. This became my anchor, my focal point. I planted both feet firmly in the ground and I decided that I wasn’t going out that way. I knew my father’s side of the family had a genetic predisposition for heart disease and diabetes. Couple that with kidney issues and I understood the potential for issues with several vital organs that I could suffer. If I were a betting man, my genetics put the odds against me. I decided that I needed a plan, something I could implement that would allow me to win.

My biggest excuse was always that I was too tired to work out after work. Teaching 7th graders will suck the energy out of you, and I was almost 46 years old, so things weren’t going to get any easier. I knew from my brief stint with lifting weights in my early 20s that there were three essential elements to fat loss: nutrition, cardio and weight training. However, I didn’t even know where to start. I’d often said, “I want to get healthy” or “I want to...

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