220 pounds later: Man enlists after ‘unstoppable’ dedication to weight loss

ST. GEORGE — A 20-month weight-loss journey will culminate later this month when a man who lost more than 220 pounds ships off to basic training.

L-R: James Brotherton and Staff Sgt. Joshua Marion pose for a photo at the Army recruiting office. Brotherton enlisted after losing over 220 pounds, St. George, Utah, December, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Joshua Marion, St. George News
L-R: James Brotherton and Staff Sgt. Joshua Marion pose for a photo at the Army recruiting office. Brotherton enlisted after losing over 220 pounds, St. George, Utah, December, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Joshua Marion, St. George News

James Brotherton started his journey in June 2015 at 462 pounds and is now down to 239 pounds, having hit the height and weight threshold to allow him to enlist in the U.S. Army.

Integral to Brotherton’s continued weight-loss success was the help he received from Army Reserve recruiter Staff Sgt. Joshua Marion who he met at Vasa Fitness in St. George.

Weight loss process

“I looked in the mirror one morning and was just, like, ‘I’ve got to do something,’” Brotherton said of the day he decided to lose weight.

“My relationship wasn’t too happy; work wasn’t doing too good … I had a lot of knee pain,” he said.

See video in the media player top of this report.

Brotherton said he was wearing 6XL shirts and had to wear double-wide shoes due to swelling in his feet.

James Brotherton before he lost 223 lbs, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of James Brotherton, St. George News
James Brotherton before he lost 223 pounds, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of James Brotherton, St. George News

Brotherton was fit growing up but when he went off to college, he said, life caught up with him, and he lost sight of his health. He was working as a sushi chef and would regularly indulge at buffet-style restaurants with his friends.

When he finally made the commitment to take control of his weight, he decided to set incremental goals.

“I was trying to keep reachable goals that were attainable so I wasn’t setting myself up for failure.”

At first, Brotherton changed his diet, dividing his meals into 5-6 smaller portions. He said he also made healthier choices, like oatmeal rather than sugary breakfast cereal, or eggs rather than breakfast burritos.

Brotherton soon incorporated exercise into his weight-loss plan and started working out at Vasa Fitness.

A chance meeting

As much success as he was having, Brotherton said he hit a plateau at 334 pounds in May 2016. That’s when he noticed Marion coming to the gym in his Army uniform and approached him for fitness advice.

Marion said he was happy to oblige and began meeting with Brotherton regularly to offer motivation, guidance and mentorship.

Since then, Brotherton managed to lose nearly 100 additional pounds with Marion’s help and instruction from his personal trainer, Jonathan Mills.

Marion, who is serving active duty as a recruiter in St. George, said this is the biggest success story he has seen since becoming a recruiter.

There’s nothing that’s stopping this guy,” Marion said of Brotherton’s dedication. “It’s amazing to see him on his journey; I’m so happy to be a part of it. I’m here to be a motivator, but honestly it’s all James himself. He’s pushed himself more than anything.”

Finding motivation

Brotherton said his friends and family have been big motivators, but he said his main motivator came from within.

Willpower can only get you so far,” Brotherton said, “when you have that ‘pull,’ it will get you the rest of the way. You just have to find that ‘pull,’ that inspiration, that passion – that drive.”

Taking it steady and not giving up no matter what have also been keys to his success.

“Honestly, the biggest thing you can do is just take it one step at a time. If you do it all at once you’re going to be setting yourself up for failure, and that is one of the biggest things I learned.”

“Just stick with it. Anything’s possible,” he said. “I’m here. I’m doing it. I lost 223 pounds.”

And Brotherton plans to continue to lose even more weight as he looks forward to a possible career in the military.

Enlistment

Brotherton is enlisted for Infantry 11X and enters basic training Jan. 23. When he completes that in May, he said, he plans to look into ranger school or officer candidate school.

“Statistically speaking, 29 percent of the population (that) doesn’t qualify for military service between the ages of 17 and 34 are because of medical, moral or mental disqualifications,” Marion said.

However, many of those disqualifications are temporary and, just like Brotherton proved, can be overcome.

“He overcame those obstacles, and it was our goal to help him throughout that process,” Marion said. “It wasn’t an overnight process, as it took him 20 months to be able to achieve that goal.”

Marion said he tells all his clients, “I will never give up on you as long as you don’t give up on yourself.”

Resources

  • U.S. Army Recruiting Center: Website | Telephone: 435-688-2600 | Address: 435 N. 1680 E. Suite 7, St George, UT 84790

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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