ST. PAUL, Minn. -- (PIONEER PRESS) -- 29, March, 2014

Jason Sweetnam is a certified weight-loss coach at Life Time Fitness, but just a few years ago, he was struggling with his own weight gain.

“I had gotten pretty heavy after two years of poor eating and not exercising,” says Sweetnam, 31, of St. Paul. “I was in a bad place. Work was not going well and I was dealing with it like a typical American, by finding easy gratification in comfort food. I put on a bunch of weight in two years, almost 100 pounds.”

He had a trio of wake-up calls.

One: “I saw a photo of myself at a friend’s wedding, a friend from high school. In my head, I had the idea I was walking around in my high school body. Seeing that picture, I realized I was definitely not.”

Two: “I hit 250 on the scale, a number I never thought I’d see. It felt like crossing a threshold.”

Three: “I got ‘myHealthScore’ done at Life Time.”

This “score” of health is determined by evaluating a person’s blood pressure, glucose levels, body-fat percentage, tobacco use, triglycerides and ratio of total cholesterol to HDL (“good” cholesterol).

Let’s just say Sweetnam didn’t ace the test.

“All my numbers were pretty poor,” he says. “It was eye-opening; the problem was not just external anymore, it was internal.”

It hadn’t always been that way.

“I’d been pretty active during school,” Sweetnam says.

But once this business major graduated, things changed. Being self-employed was stressful.

A new path revealed itself when he started taking care of himself — as part of myHealthScore, Sweetnam was given personalized recommendations for exercise, nutrition and supplements based on his particular metabolism.

He lost more than 100 pounds and gained something.

“After about a year, I thought, ‘This is pretty fun.’ I discovered it was something I was passionate about.”

He decided to make it a career, enrolling in Life Time Academy to become a certified personal trainer.

Now he works at Life Time Fitness in Highland Park not only as a personal trainer and weight-loss coach but also as leader of the weight-loss and nutrition teams.

He has found satisfaction in helping others.

“What I really enjoy about this job is that, at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve truly made a difference in people’s lives,” he says.

Share your own turning point with Molly Guthrey or 651-228-5505.

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