The mission of Tough Mudder Challenges is to provide a platform to bring motivation, inspiring, and achieving fitness goals into the lives of thousands of Mudders across the globe. Whether it’s personal goal setting, part of one’s current health and wellness journey, or a community of Mudders looking to come together off the course, every participant has their unique story of how they came to join the movement.
During Tough Mudder Challenges Mission: Sea to Space, Tough Mudder and Navy Federal Credit Union are sharing motivation through the personal wellness journeys of a few Mudder participants and Navy Federal employees, who inspire us all.
Today’s Mission Highlight: Jason Melendez.
Currently serving in the Navy Reserves and working as a Member Service Rep for Navy Federal Credit Union, here’s his inspiring journey in achieving his fitness goals and his commitment to completing Tough Mudder Challenges Mission: Sea to Space.
Achieving fitness goals has always been a big part of my life. I’ve always liked the structure it provides and how it helps me set and meet big goals. I started playing baseball the second I was eligible and continued most of my young life. Football played a large role too, but it wasn’t until I entered high school that I found my favorite sport: swimming. While I still continued track and field, swimming took up most of my time with 4 am practices before school, after school training, off-season swim teams, and fitness intervals. Throughout high school, I maintained my weight around 175lbs thanks to all the formal activity, but after graduating in 2012, I began to struggle. I no longer had the coaches or training schedules to help me maintain discipline.
The first couple of years out of high school, I fell in and out of “Insanity” fitness programs that usually fell to the wayside. I tried CrossFit in 2014, which slowly brought a training routine back into my life. With time and persistence, I found I was able to deadlift 300lbs with ease.
But around August 2015, I received a rude awakening. A vacation to the Florida Keys brought vacation photos that forced me to confront the fact that I was not happy in my own skin.
Around this same time, the United States Naval Reserves had become a goal I saw in my path. Structure and discipline brought good energy to my life and the Naval Reserves gave me an opportunity to grow in all areas.
I continued with on and off training until May 2016 when I swore into the United States Navy Reserves. Finally, in October of 2016 of that year, I started my military career.
Through boot camp and A-school, I had made it down to 165lbs and felt amazing with my progress. Sadly, once I didn’t have the help of the military every single day, I fell back into my old routines and found myself back up to 175lbs in about a year.
Here is where I tried my hand at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for about 6 months. And although I was getting into great shape, finances and an upcoming deployment made it so this too fell by the wayside.
This brings us to late 2019 when I was stationed in Dubai, surrounded by news food, immersed in a new language, and living a lifestyle that provided free time to train. I had always wanted to go after an Ironman, but never wanted to pledge the entry fee commitment. I figured now was the best time to finally commit.
I set high goals and held myself to a tough routine. I would run a 5K almost every single day, lifted weights about every other day, swam 2.4 miles (Ironman length) roughly 10 different times, ran a half marathon on my own just to see if I could, and when COVID-19 hit, I found myself in my room back to those ‘Insanity’ workouts, right back where I started 8 years ago.
At the end of my 11-month deployment, I was in the best shape of my life, weighing in at 155lbs and confident in any physical challenge that could be thrown at me. My fitness journey has been a long one of peaks and valleys, but one I am grateful for.
I’m looking to test my limits this month in the November Challenge Mission: Sea to Space. I’ll not only be representing my employer Navy Federal Credit Union, but also testing my mental and physical limits. And, along the way, I’ll be one step closer to becoming an Ironman and achieving fitness goals.
Navy Federal Credit union is proud to serve all branches of the military, the DoD, veterans and their families. We want you to earn more, save more and live the life you want knowing we’re behind you each step of the way, because our members are the mission. Learn more and become a member. Insured by NCUA.