Tipping the scales at 210 kilograms, Jason van Stam struggled to do everyday tasks like tie his shoelaces, cook dinner or mow the lawn.
Combined with his work as an interstate truck driver, he constantly felt fatigued and had no “get up and go”.
“I could only get a quarter of the lawn mowed before I’d have to sit down and have a rest,” Jason said.
“I couldn’t stand up for long enough to cook a meal, I’d have to have a break and come back to it.
“The seatbelt on the truck didn’t fit anymore … and getting up and down the truck was a real effort.”
Suffering from high blood pressure and sleep apnea, the Cranbourne West resident saw a specialist who gave him the wake-up call he desperately needed.
“The doctor told me that if I kept going the way I was going, I’d be dead in five years,” Jason said.
“I knew I was big and I knew it was getting worse, but I thought I was healthy for my size given I didn’t have heart disease or diabetes, but I was just kidding myself.”
Jason, who is now a garbage truck driver, said the doctor’s words rang home on a personal level.
“I lost my dad in 2014, and I just thought that I didn’t want my daughter to have to go along in life without a dad like me,” he said.
Jason had gastric sleeve surgery, joined a local gym and decided to eat more healthily.
He also set himself a personal goal to get fit enough so he could compete in the Tough Mudder Half challenge, held on 29 October in Myrniong, Victoria.
Tough Mudder Half is a nine-kilometre mud course with more than 10 obstacles specifically designed to test teamwork and endurance.
Jason, who now weighs 117 kilograms, got through the whole challenge, albeit for one obstacle dubbed “Everest 2.0”.
“I’m ecstatic with myself – 12 months ago I couldn’t even walk 10 kilometres, let alone compete in something like that with that many obstacles, but gee I’m dirty with myself that I couldn’t do that one (Everest 2.0),” Jason said.
But not one to shy away from a challenge, Jason is now training to compete in a mini triathlon in Melbourne in January and is aiming for the full Mudder challenge next year.
Jason’s participation in Tough Mudder Half also raised just over $700 for Soldier On, well over his $500 target.
Soldier On is a not-for-profit organisation that helps servicemen and women access the support they may need to lead successful and fulfilling lives.
“My father was in the Army, my uncle served in Vietnam in the RAAF and my grandmother was in the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force), my wife’s family are all Defence and it’s something that is just really close to my heart,” Jason said.
He said people could still donate towards his Tough Mudder Half challenge at https://toughmudder-seq.everydayhero.com/au/shrinking-muddertrucker

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