Jason Crow knew he had to make changes. In 2017, while attending San Diego Comic-Con, he noticed himself beginning to limp just from walking around the event. At 37, Crow was pre-diabetic, on medication for blood pressure, and felt way older than he thought he should have.
“I had so much insecurity about my body and it spilled over into how I related and interacted with everyone around me,” he says.
Related: Hybrid Athlete Training Isn’t a Workout Hack—It’s Better
While walking around the con, Crow spotted someone wearing a Nerd Fitness t-shirt. Instantly intrigued, he began researching the company on the spot. He found that Nerd Fitness is targeted toward “nerds and average Joes” to help them lose weight, gain strength, and live better and healthier lives overall. And according to Crow, that sounded just like what he needed.
One Man’s “Big Why”
One of the first steps in many people’s fitness journeys is acknowledging where they are, how they got there, and why they are choosing to make a change. It's essentially the "Big Why." Crow recalled his Big Why when he first approached Nerd Fitness in 2017.
“I was worried about how my physical health is affecting my mental and cognitive health, and I want to change that," he said. "I felt my physical health deteriorating my memory, my thought speed, and my creativity. I looked down or look in the mirror and my self-esteem tanks.
"If I change this for me, then I can give my wife a better version of me, and I love the thought of that more than anything else."
Jason Crow before his transformation
Starting and Sustaining Through Simplicity
By 2020, Crow had been working solo from Nerd Fitness workout and nutrition plans for two years, but still got derailed by challenges within the programs and in his personal and professional life. He then decided to level up by seeking professional advice. Once Crow was paired with Taylor, his new Nerd Fitness coach, he was able to pinpoint some simple concepts that immediately helped to clear the path for his fitness journey.
“I was surprised to ultimately discover that it truly was just about calories in calories out, lift heavy, and sleep,” Crow says.
Crow started tracking a daily caloric goal based on his total daily energy expenditure. He aimed to stay around 300 to 500 calories below that in order to lose one to two pounds per week.
“The simplest way for me to reduce calories was to make sure I didn’t drink them," he says. "I learned that sugar-free soda is my best friend, aspartame panic be damned.”
Related: 9 Healthiest Sodas and Carbonated Beverages to Drink
When it came to laying the groundwork for a plan, Crow notes that Taylor encouraged him to approach the process like an experiment.
“ food or movement, or lack of either, was out of bounds,” he says. “We would try something and assess it later." Taylor wouldn't make commandments as a coach, but encourage pathways with accountability through shared exploration. This helped Crow to invest confidently in the process.
In addition, Crow was challenged to set “here-and-now goals"–benchmarks that were simple enough to reach that it became hard to make excuses for why they weren't.
One example of a here-and-now goal that he still uses today is sleep monitoring, particularly after workouts. “I'm starting to experience some disturbance in my sleep and I'm a bit more irritable than usual,” he says. “I monitor the severity of these [disturbances] (I like using a scale of 1 to 10) to see if it changes for the worse. If it does, it might be time to de-load my lifting routine for a week.”
Taylor helped Crow to build on original small goals like that, helping the bigger, loftier goals feel closer as time went on. After he began seeing results, Crow realized one of the keys to health and fitness:
“Motivation comes after the behavior and not before, and creating structures to make it difficult to avoid fitness and health [is] the way,” he says.
Jason Crow during fitness transformation
The Recipe For Success
Over the next four years, Crow’s life took a complete 180. He started several basic and effective habits to keep himself on track–such as meal prep. He prepped at least two meals a day in order to keep temptations, like grabbing lunch at a fast food restaurant, at bay. He also keeps his workout gear out and ready to use whenever he needs it.
“These things work for me, but I think striving to make fitness and health behaviors easy to initiate is helpful for anyone,” he notes.
View the 3 images of this gallery on the
The Workout Routine
As for his workout regimen, Crow follows a six-day per week recipe of weight training, functional fitness, pre-hab, and fast walking–his favorite form of exercise.
He lifts weights six days a week in his garage gym, with two days dedicated to training legs, two days committed to push movements, and two days for pull movements.
His equipment consists of:
- barbell plates and a standard barbell
- a set of adjustable dumbbells
- a wall-attached squat rack
- a cobbled together cable and pulley system that takes 1-inch plates, and some TRX-style straps suspended from the ceiling with Olympic rings
Crow singles out his adjustable dumbbells as his favorite "no-excuses" piece of workout equipment, noting their combination of functionality and transferability.
While his walking routine has shifted over the years, he now walks four times per day for about 30 minutes at a time.
“I'm not looking to win any bodybuilding shows or grab a ribbon in a triathlon," he states. "I'm mainly trying to be the most capable version of me I can.”
Related: 30 Best Dumbbell Exercises for Building Muscle
The changes Crow made from small, consistent diet and exercise goals are twofold. After losing a total of 81 pounds to date, not only is he no longer on medication but he's able to move around better, with more energy, more confidence, and no discomfort.
“At my start, ten minutes of walking was more than enough to wind me and give me ankle pain,” Crow adds. “Tiny progressions across days, weeks, and months [allowed] me to [be] able to run 10 miles without stopping or injuring myself.
"Doing 10 assisted bodyweight squats every other day eventually led to 1-hour lifting sessions 6 days a week. Focusing on putting one foot in front of the other can lead to walking around the planet without even realizing it.”
Jason Crow after his transformation
Advice to Others on Their Fitness Journey
Crow learned a lot of lessons on his road to physical transformation, but one lesson that stuck out most was how little changes can make a world of difference.
When asked what he would say to others who are mapping out their own fitness journey, he began with two words: “Start small.”
“Think of a number of minutes you'd be absolutely sure you could walk right now," he says. "Maybe you could go for a leisurely 10-minute stroll. Cut the number in half, and that is how small the [starting] goal should be. Make it so small that not only is achieving it guaranteed, but that it makes you hunger for a greater achievement."