From a life restricted by obesity to one where 10-mile runs are a normal undertaking, iFIT Member Jason Ash took control of his life after a stage 3 thyroid cancer diagnosis. Wanting to set an example for his children, Jason found his “why” and worked diligently to reach his fitness goals. He was kind enough to share more on his incredible journey, made possible with the love and support of his family.
Don’t let your mind, people’s thoughts, or your own self perception limit what you’re capable of doing! Put in the work. Find your why and just go.
What was the catalyst for change that helped you begin your fitness journey?
I’ve spent most of my life battling obesity. In the summer of 2016 while working in my classroom, I began having chest tightness and difficulty breathing. Having watched my father die of a heart attack six years earlier, this obviously freaked me out! My wife, who is also a teacher, suggested we go to the ER. The doctor performed an EKG, which showed a slight abnormality. They ran three additional EKGs, but they were normal.
Since my chest pain would not go away, I was sent to a larger hospital. All of their EKGs were normal as well. They suspected a blood clot and ordered a CT scan of my chest. Fortunately, the technician started the scan on my throat. The CT revealed a large mass encapsulating my thyroid. The very next day a biopsy was ordered, and I later received the call that no one wants: “You have cancer.” After being diagnosed with stage 3 thyroid cancer, I made a vow to my wife that I was not only going to change my life physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
How did your family play a role in your success?
Without the help and support of my family, none of what I have accomplished would have been possible. My wife is my biggest supporter! She is the one who goes along with my huge goals and encourages me to keep pushing forward. She is also the voice of reason when my ambitions become too large.
My kids are my biggest fans! My daughter thinks that when I’m running with Tommy Rivs, John Peel, Knox Robinson, or any other amazing iFIT Trainer, that I am actually racing them. She always asks the same question: “Did you win, daddy?” (Sorry Rivs, even though I could never outrun or outlast you, I’ve “won” against you more times than I can count!) My youngest son has recently been diagnosed with autism and epilepsy. Every week, I watch him battle through 5–8 therapies. Seeing his fighting spirit makes me believe I can do anything!
What other things keep you motivated?
Professionally, I am an elementary school teacher. Education has been a huge part of my life for more than 10 years. Two large motivators for me are my students and the school community. I teach in an impoverished area. On average, more than 40% of my students come from or live in fatherless homes. This has been the case my entire career. This statistic is the reason education became my life. These kids are my kids. Their quiet strength and courage in the face of daily adversity motivate me to be my best every day.
What are some things you’re capable of doing now that you weren’t 10 years ago?
Ten years ago, I was far too obese to even think about running long distances or for long periods of time. I could barely walk a mile without needing to quit. I could not get on rides in amusement parks due to my size. I couldn’t even consider putting myself out there and sharing pictures of myself. Oh, how life has changed! I can now go on 10-mile runs and to amusement parks to ride the rides with my children. I can share images of my fitness journey with confidence in who I am and who I’ve become. I can hold my head up high and welcome any challenge life throws my way.
With your huge accomplishments, what are some lessons you hope to teach your kids from your experiences?
I hope that through the example I am living out for my children, they will see that with hard work, determination, dedication, and humility, they can battle through any adversity that comes their way. I hope they see that through lifting up and supporting those around you, you can change not only your life, but be instrumental and impactful in the lives of others. I hope they see that we are not meant to walk these journeys alone, but with one another.
What advice would you give to others in similar positions, wanting to get their health on the right track?
I would tell others to start with their mindset. I was extremely unhealthy. I worked hard and became healthier only to become unhealthy again. I realized that it wasn’t just my physical health holding me back, but also my mindset. Since I have shifted my mindset, real and lasting change has occurred. I had to find my “why” to change that mindset. My why was my kids. My father died at 57. I thought hard about that. I realized that if I continued that trend, I only had 16 years left with them. That hit home! Get your mindset right and find your why. If you do that, your physical health will eventually catch up!
Who is your favorite iFIT Trainer?
My favorite iFIT Trainer is Tommy Rivers Puzey.
What is your favorite iFIT Series?
What do you like most about iFIT?
The thing I love most about iFIT is the community! I can be at peace knowing that I am never alone in this journey. I know that at any given moment, someone else is right there with me and only a message away. Communities thrive because they can express boundless love and support! That is what this group does. From iFIT’s trainers and producers to the members, WE are one!
How long have you been an iFIT member?
I started my iFIT journey on January 4, 2021!
DISCLAIMER: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFIT assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article. Always follow the safety precautions included in the owner’s manual of your fitness equipment.
Opinions of iFIT members are not necessarily the opinions of iFIT.