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Meet Jacob, a 29 year old Air Force verteran and proud member of Refinery. In the past several years, Jacob has been through health struggles that most of us will never face, and yet he has recovered each time and pushed his limits once again be fit and healthy. Here is Jacob's story in his own words:


 "In the year 2008 I was deployed in the middle east serving in the Air Force as a military firefighter where I came into contact with a deadly virus that had began attacking my heart.  I was misdiagnosed for nearly 4 months until they finally found out what was really going on, unfortunately.  I have always been at the top of my game as far as being in shape goes, I played various sports growing up, Football, Baseball, AAU Baseball, Boxing and Track and Field.  While in college I made it to nationals in the 55 meter sprint. 


So going on, after they found this virus was attacking my heart it landed me in the hospital where I was placed on a biventricular assist device or BIVAD for short.  This pump was to help my heart rest and take some of the load off it it throughout the day and assist in the pumping process, they has hoped that after some time this would allow me to recover and live a normal life.  However this was not the case, I was placed on the transplant list after being on the pump for nearly 5 months.  I received a transplant after around 6 weeks of being on the list.  I started my long journey of recovering and was coming on quite nicely, keeping in mind I was 5'11 230lbs solid when I became sick in the military and dropped down to 145lbs after the surgery. 

In the hospital, post-transplant

I moved back home to Illinois in 2009 and started going back to school and studying for a new career path due to no longer being able to utilize my fire science degree , just over two years had passed and I woke one evening just after new years in 2010 and started feeling a little off, I drove myself to IU in Indianapolis only to find out I had suffered a massive rejection based heart attack days before, but beings I am de-nervated from having a previous heart transplant I didnt feel any of the associated pain that a normal person would feel in the event of having a heart attack.  I was back in the hospital and on another assist device called a LVAD which in theory would do the same thing as the BIVAD I was on just a couple years before.  My body did not recover on it's own this time either and I was once again placed back on a transplant list, this time I only waited a short 6 weeks before a suitable donor was found.  I once again dropped down from around the 230lbs that I had gained down to a puney 145lbs again, so my fitness battle began once again.  I have brought myself back to 215 and actually probably the healthiest I have ever been since any of my surgeries.  I am now age 29, two heart transplant and 215lbs and proud to be a member of the Refinery." 


Jacob continues to work to improve his fitness level by following a healthy diet geared toward building muscle. His workouts are focused on gaining strength as due to the heart transplant, he already has an elevated heart rate and can get his cardio in by lowering his reps and performing multiple sets of each exercise. 


Be sure to say "Hi" to Jacob next time you see him in the gym!

Before starting her fitness journey

Uzo is a 37 year old wife and the mother of 2 boys, ages 17 months and 8 years. Her schedule is as busy as it could possibly be: full-time work, full-time Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s program, and taking care of her family. She is committed to her fitness regimen of cycling 60-90 minutes daily and Tony’s Bootcamp 2-3 days per week. For added motivation, Uzo is also participating in a weight loss challenge at work for the summer. More of Uzo’s story in her own words:

"I have being struggling with my weight for as long as I have known what is to be overweight (And I am still working on my weight!). My weight was as high as 206 lbs and I have never really had problems with working out, so I felt that alone should help me lose weight. I have always struggled with eating healthy, before I had our kids; after our first. Then with the second, I felt that since I was always working out, it was going to be easier for me to lose weight. That did not happen. I tried and still did not lose weight, because I hadn't confronted the way and what I eat (I still struggle with eating, though now I am more aware of what I eat).I watched what I ate and went down to 160 lbs . I have gained 6 lbs back just in two weeks because of stress from school (I have to blame it on something and not my  lack of self control!!!!). So my goal would be to really learn how to deal with life stressors without involving food and continue my exercise regimen of cycling and boot camp. My son says I would never have a six pack; according to him women do not have six packs... and I would definitely prove him wrong (When  I am done with my masters program though!!!!)."

Uzo after a cycling workout


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