The Stronger U Member Spotlight — Jonothon Mitchell

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This week the Stronger U Member Spotlight is shining down on Jonothon Mitchell, who has worked with Coach Jeb Stuart Johnston. Congrats, Jono!

What’s your name? (First and last names, pretty please)

Jonothon Mitchell

Who was your Coach? 

Jeb Stuart Johnson

If there was one thing you could say to your Coach, what would it be?

I would simply say thank you. Primarily Jeb and myself haven’t communicated much beyond check-ins, but if I have a question or need simple guidance he is ALWAYS a resource. On top of that, what’s so great about Jeb is that he’s such a constant source of inspiration outside of weekly check-ins. Even if Jeb isn’t your coach you should follow him on social media because the insight he offers is so invaluable and has definitely been helpful throughout my journey. 

Tell us a little about you. Where are you from? Are you a parent? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Born in Louisiana and raised across much of the Southeast. I live in Atlanta with my husband and our Shih-Tzu Jack. I work in the entertainment industry primarily as a writer/director, but have dabbled in acting and hosting. For five years I was an on-air personality for Adult Swim’s digital network and you can see me in Ron Howard’s adaption of Hillbilly Elegy on Netflix later this year. Making my own movies is something that I want to be paid to do, but right now it’s a hobby while I pursue it as a full-time gig. Because of my job I’m a big pop culture connoisseur and I love TV, movies, and music. I have a bottomless pit of irrelevant movies quotes, song lyrics, and celebrity facts.  

What was the moment that made you decide to join Stronger U?

I’m an actor and I was on set performing a role that required intimacy and I felt terrible. I felt awful about my performance and about how I looked and it was all an extension of how I felt both physically and mentally. Coming off that experience I knew I wanted to make a change, but I was wary to jump into anything major but I consistently failed in all my attempts. A few weeks after the shoot our on-set photographer sent us behind-the-scenes photos and after seeing myself in these photos something clicked in a way it never had before. That weekend I signed up for a 5K and started training and then a month into that, once I was sure I was in it for the long haul, I made the leap to join the Stronger U community and now I don’t know a version of my life that doesn’t include Stronger U. 

Is there anyone from the SU community you would like to shout out?

There are two people! First off is Sam Boyd. He had long been an inspiration in his own journey and seeing his results I thought I would never be able to do it, but Sam was so kind and giving in talking me through the SU program, but also any general fitness questions I had. If it wasn’t for Sam I wouldn’t have signed up at all and then we were lucky enough to get the same incredible coach. Also My husband, Brock Kimbrel, took the journey with me. We have completely different body types and completely different goals, but it was nice to have someone so close going through the experience also and I think the fact that we both saw incredible results is just proof that the program is designed for everyone. 

What dieting experience did you have previous to Stronger U? 

I tried everything. I mean it. I really did. Obesity runs in my family and I always felt I was predisposed to being overweight.  I was a fat kid who grew into a fat adult and like so many people I chased the idea of immediate results, but that’s a fallacy. Dieting gave me results, but it was always temporary, and the minute I started to put the weight back on I would get frustrated and give up. I would eat less or be hyper-selective in what I was eating and the mindset of “I can’t have that” made me want it more. So I think it’s unfair to use the term diet as a verb because it’s built on a foundation of restriction and my ability to find a way to still enjoy the foods I love in moderation, free of guilt, has been integral to my success on Stronger U.

What were your eating habits like before joining Stronger U? Did you prep your meals? Did you eat out regularly? Did you think you were already eating healthy and in moderation?

Before Stronger U there were times where I could go an entire weekend without ever making a home-cooked meal. I’d eat out for every single meal. I had what I wanted, when I wanted, and I had as much as I wanted. Once every few months I’d start to feel bad and I’d tried to meal prep or “eat healthier,” and within the week I’d think, “well that’s enough… I’m getting fast food.” There was no structure. 

Why do you think Stronger U worked so well for you compared to other programs or diets?

Stronger U works for me because it helped me shift my mindset and how I looked at what I’m eating. Instead of restricting myself and saying I can’t I know that I always can, but now the question is do I want to. Sometimes the answer is yes and in those cases I enjoy the program because it feels like a game. It’s like a puzzle that I’m assembling piece-by-piece. I have these numbers I’m hitting daily and if I know that I’ve really been craving something that may be heavier on carbs or fat, I put it in first and then piece-by-piece I assemble the rest of my day around it. I appreciate the food I eat more than I ever have, because SU taught me to make every number count. 

What was the biggest challenge or change when you first started with Stronger U?

The biggest challenge was daily weigh-ins and coming to terms with the fact that ultimately my weight is just a number. Being able to assess my weight as data to use to assist in my journey and not as a concrete factor in defining my success was hard at first. Very quickly I saw that the mental and physical changes I experienced defined how I felt long before the number on the scale. 

What was something you regularly ate while on Stronger U that people wouldn’t expect you to eat on a diet?

I eat ice cream almost every day of the week. I buy the My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream Bites. S’mores is my favorite (21c, 3f, 1p). It’s a nice sweet treat to end my day. It’s a nice serving and it satisfies my sweet tooth.

What does your typical week of eating look like? How many days a week do you meal prep? Do you have certain meals you make most often?

I batch make all of my protein and then rotate that with different carbs and fat sources. Once I found what worked while utilizing “3-3-3” I stuck with it and now I just rotate the same six or seven meals with different combinations. I have some form of a sandwich every day for lunch and I make tacos for dinner half the days out of the week. 

If you exercise or train for a sport, did Stronger U have any impact on your training? Or did Stronger U have an impact on your decision to start exercising or training for a sport?

Nutrition was my biggest hurdle on my journey so while I consistently trained with race training for a 5k and 10k that got canceled due to COVID and occasional bodyweight workouts at home, I focused almost entirely on my eating habits and once I felt grounded in that I found a personal trainer to help me in weight training. It was important for me to take things one step at a time. In the past, trying to take it on all at once overwhelmed me and always lead to failure. 

How much weight did you lose with Stronger U?

So far I’ve lost almost 50lbs.

How did your waist measurements change with Stronger U? 

I’ve lost ten inches in my waist. 

What were 3 major non-scale victories you experienced with Stronger U?

The biggest victory I’ve had is my ability to erase the feeling of guilt for enjoying food no matter what it is. Other than that, I have the hint of abs for the first time in my entire life and I bought my first speedo and was confident enough to wear it in public.

Outside of the scale, inches, and previously mentioned NSV’s, how has your life improved thanks to your time with Stronger U?

I have more confidence now than I’ve ever had before and it’s not just confidence in how I look. It’s also confidence that’s borne out of a sense of accomplishment. It is a byproduct of my ability to see results in the program. I have so much pride for what I’ve done and it helped make me a stronger, happier, more confident person and I was able to see those results just by sticking to it. 

What are 3 tips, based on your experience, that you’d give to new members of Stronger U to help them see success early on?

  1. 3-3-3 is your best friend. Find the combinations that work and use them forever.
  2.  Track tomorrow tonight. Do everything the day before so there’s no excuse to deviate from your established plan.
  3. Trust your coach. You’re paying them money to help you. Let them. 

If someone is thinking about joining Stronger U, what advice would you give them before beginning their journey?

My two biggest pieces of advice are to trust your coach and believe in yourself. I know the latter seems like common sense, but I think anyone who is embarking on this journey for the first time is likely here because you’re unhappy about something and that unhappiness is always underscored with doubt. I know that was the case for me. If you took the steps to be here, you’ve already done so much and you should be proud. I see people self-sabotage and prep themselves for failure early by finding faults in the smallest details. That way when you fall off the wagon you can say it everyone else’s fault, because it’s a defense mechanism we use to protect ourselves for when we’re at the end of your rope and nothing else has worked. I’ve been there. It’s scary and at times it’s overwhelming, but you want this. If you didn’t you wouldn’t have signed up. You can do this. 

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