What started as a way to maybe lose some weight, has completely turned Jon Orton’s life around.
Age: 39 | Height: 6’ 2”
Starting Weight: 478lbs. | Current Weight: 225lbs.
Hometown: Bakersfield, CA
Home School: Eric Nolans Extreme Training
Instructor: Albert Aguire/Dan Camarillo
How did you discover jiu-jitsu?
My first exposure was the first UFC. I remember everyone talking about this scrawny guy coming out and beating these guys that were twice his size. But I still had no idea what jiu-jitsu was. I got a VHS tape with the first three UFCs on it. I watched it and saw what the hype was about. I could see that jiu-jitsu was the real deal. I looked around for schools in my area (I lived in Seattle at the time) but there was nothing. It wasn’t until years after I had moved to California and jiu-jitsu had become more well known, that I was able to find a gym that offered jiu-jitsu. That’s how I met Professor Daniel Camarillo. But it wasn’t until a few years later that I actually started training.
What motivates you to train?
Initially, it was weight loss. I like things that don’t come easy. I want to be pushed physically and I knew that jiu-jitsu would do that. I knew that once I got on the mat, even at 478 lbs and rolling with guys 1/3 my size, if I didn’t move, I would end up on my back getting choked or armbarred. It didn’t take long for my motivation to change. Wanting to lose weight was what got me on the mat in the first place, but my love for jiu-jitsu and my desire to learn and progress is what kept me there and keeps me coming back.
What else do you do for physical fitness?
Aside from jiu-jitsu, I do a lot of weight training and powerlifting. As far as cardio and conditioning, I use a lot of high intensity interval training. I also enjoy Muay Thai. I always try to mix things up and incorporate new things to keep from getting bored.
How have you changed your diet?
I have COMPLETELY changed my diet. I cut out all fast food and beverages aside from water. I keep things clean and simple. Essentially just lean proteins, vegetables, potatoes, or rice. Eating clean doesn’t have to be boring. You can get creative. Proper nutrition is really the most important aspect of losing and maintaining weight. Of course, exercise is important as well. But you really cannot out work a bad diet.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
Staying motivated was the hardest part. But with the motivation problem taken care of, the biggest challenge has been changing the way I think about food and really accepting the lifestyle changes. But If you want to change your life, you have to change your lifestyle. That means breaking habits that have taken a lifetime to acquire. Carefully planning out everything I eat and meal prepping was very tough in the beginning. It can be pretty time consuming and it’s so much easier to just pull through a drive thru or order a pizza instead. Especially when that is what I had done for so many years. But those easy solutions were not going to help me reach my goal. Now that I have reached my goal weight, it is still difficult at times to not give into old habits. But I have worked way too hard to go back.
What’s been the best benefit from the changes you’ve made?
My life has improved in every way possible. I could go on forever listing all of the benefits that this change has brought me. I had been overweight since I was a child. So I had no idea how much life I was actually missing out on. When you are as big as I was, nothing fits. And I don’t just mean clothing (my first gi was an A-7. I could barely close the jacket). It’s like you are living in a world that wasn’t made for you. I get to do things every single day that I was not capable of doing before. Even everyday tasks like tying my shoes without breaking a sweat or my back hurting. Before my weight loss, I wasn’t living. I was just surviving.
What advice would you give to someone else looking to make the same sort of change?
If you want to change everything, you have to change EVERYTHING. What you will gain is far greater than what you will give up. Find your passion. Find your fire. And then let that fire consume you. Find something that drives you and motives you. Something that pushes you. And then do the hell out of it. For me, it was jiu-jitsu. I can honestly say that jiu-jitsu saved my life. I’m living proof that it can be done.