Transformation: ‘I owe all of the glory to God’

Story and photos
by Callie Sterling

Jamie Anderson of Cabot began an inspiring fitness journey last year and hasn’t looked back since. 

At his heaviest weight of 618 pounds, Anderson felt hopeless and was battling depression. 


“I was feeling the repercussions mentally and physically,” Anderson said. “I would sleep a lot and had very little energy. I napped all day sometimes and I was depressed.” 

Anderson struggled for years to maintain a steady weight and had little self control when it came to his addiction to food. “For six years, I would lose a little weight, then I would gain it all back,” Anderson. “It was a vicious cycle. On June 27 last year, I got serious about living a healthier lifestyle. Our country doesn’t seem to talk much about the seriousness of food addiction, like they talk about alcohol or drug addiction.”

Anderson was encouraged by his friend, Amy Thiele, to begin working with Jennifer Rhettiger, a personal trainer at Prevail Fitness in Cabot. Thiele had trained with Rhettiger herself. She knew from her experience that a reputable personal trainer, such as Rhettiger, would have the knowledge and skills to assist Anderson in kick starting his fitness journey. 

When he began training, he weighed 450 pounds. Today, he is at 324 pounds. He is working on a short-term goal weight of 318, which is 300 pounds lighter than his heaviest weight. Anderson does not intend to stop at 318 pounds. 

“My friend, Amy, has known me over 20 years and she had heard me complain about my weight on and off for years,” Anderson said. “I began losing a little on my own and that is when she knew I was serious about losing weight, so she connected me with Jen. I was 450 pounds a little over a year ago, I have lost over 100 pounds in a year.” 

Anderson got serious about making a healthy lifestyle change after a severe staph infection that left him in the hospital for 10 days. His doctor urged him to make changes in his diet and to begin exercising regularly, or severe consequences would be in store for his future. 

“The doctor convinced me I needed to make changes,” Anderson said. “The doctor told me he would have to remove my feet within two years if I did not make changes. I prayed to God that He would take away the infection and heal me. I prayed to Him that I would do better and make changes if He healed me. 

“That is when my fitness journey truly began.” 

Rhettiger could relate to Anderson because she personally struggled with her weight before beginning her career as a personal trainer. 

“I have been in Jamie’s shoes before. I used to struggle with my weight,” Rhettiger said. “When people who are out of shape start coming to the gym, it can be very intimidating and they are often nervous. I try to ease them into a complete lifestyle change a little bit at a time. First, I begin with a fitness assessment. I get an idea of what physical level they are at. I also talk with them about nutrition and their goals.” 

When Anderson began his fitness journey a little over a year ago he started with two 30-minute sessions every Monday and Wednesday at Prevail Family Fitness. 

“She also gave me assignments to do before I met with her at the following session,” Anderson said. “I would have to do cardio sessions on my own in between sessions and other workouts that she assigned. The weights were intimidating at first for me, but now I am addicted to weightlifting.”

Rhettiger constantly varied the workouts for Anderson’s fitness plan, gradually making them more difficult and complex. 

“If all of my clients were like Jamie, I would have a lot less work on my hands,” Rhettiger said. “He is so committed and we just understand one another. We have a great relationship. He doesn’t get frustrated with me and vice versa.” 

About six months into Anderson’s training with Rhettiger, he did have a dark moment and was on the verge of quitting. 

“About six months into my training I decided I wanted to quit,” Anderson said. “I had made my decision to quit when two teenagers from the gym told me I was their motivation at the gym. Having them tell me that turned around my whole attitude. It motivated me all over again and helped me stay focused. God knew I needed to hear that. Every single day that I train is in God’s name and for His glory. My motto is ‘By His grace, we never yield’ and the owners of Prevail Family Fitness had shirts made with the phrase.” 

Larry and Laurel Adams, owners of Prevail Family Fitness, used the shirts to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project but also to show support for Anderson and his fitness journey. 

Anderson wants to encourage everyone that he comes into contact with to have faith. He believes that with faith in God, anything can be achieved. He will continue to praise God for his strength, motivation and overall fitness journey. 

“People tell me I am an inspiration to them, but I really owe all of the glory to God for this transformation that He has made in me,” Anderson said.