Author Randy Jernigan and Jackson
When I sat down to dinner at a small Asian Bistro with my old friend and writer Randy Jernigan, he quickly scanned the menu, searching for the healthiest foods. Today would not be one of his famous “cheat days” he shares on his social media pages–usually Mondays when he and best friend, Jackson Fackrell, indulge in what he terms a “free meal.” Today he opts for several veggie heavy dishes with less calories, and of course, minus the fried rice and noodles. Later, as the waitress cleared the table, I notice that she cleared away his half eaten meal.
At the time I remembered our last meal together, some four years earlier, when Randy scarfed down a huge steak, two huge baked potatoes with all the works, then half the fries left on my plate. I also remember him complaining at the time that he was stuffed to the brim but still hungry.
Food held a much different place in Randy’s life then, than it does now. A much different place.
Food was his main comfort. A cure-all for his deeply hidden, very painful, personal issues. Now, as randy explains it to me, food is a tool.
“I’m not blaming food. Food isn’t my enemy,” he says.”It was my misuse of food that was my problem. We all need food–it can be a great thing if we use food as a tool to fuel our body.”
Randy, 54, lives in the smallish Utah town of Pleasant Grove and can be seen on any given day by his neighbors walking for hours through his luxury apartment complex, waving at the many friends he’s made, and now and then, stopping to answer a question or two about how much weight he’s lost now.
Just a few years ago, the walking would have been totally unthinkable.
As Randy explained in his first book, Losing to Win, published a couple of years ago, there was a time when he hated to leave his house for anything other than work or to visit his favorite fast food eatery. Randy was obese–morbidly obese, weighing in at 355 pounds. As he explains it his 5’8 frame was constantly racked with pain. Besides the diabetes and hypertension, Randy suffered from a severe case of arthritic gout that was destroying his ankles and knees.
Randy tells me the story of when he was at his heaviest and he was afraid to go to sleep at night. “When I’d lay down I couldn’t breath well–I was really scared that I’d die in my sleep. I was petrified that I’d never wake up because of my condition,” he said emotionally. I’ll confess, when Randy told me this story I had tears in my eyes. I had no idea.
“I always felt like the proverbial elephant in the room that nobody wanted to talk about, until I turned my back,” Randy said.
That may be some emotional exaggeration on his part, but that was more than 178 pounds and nearly three years ago.
Randy fought his way back to life to tell his story in “Losing to Win,” and now he’s releasing a new book explaining how he’s maintained his weight-loss and found joy in his journey.
“The Best I Can Be” (Creative Partners/Kindle $12.99)
This book is not a cookbook or diet plan. While it does try to educate about healthy living, it’s the story of a man who was desperately searching for something more in life. For what, he didn’t actually know until he found it. The unconditional love and acceptance of friends and family. The feelings of self worth and self-esteem that came with it help Randy stay with his diet program and melt away the pounds.
“Losing to Win” chronicled Randy’s near death experience in a hospital emergency room, then he added the recipes and secrets that helped him lose the weight and beat his illnesses. “But this new book will be a bit more personal,” Randy explained. “I get questions all the time asking me about how I kept it off. I try to answer all those questions in the new book.”
The book will also reveal many parts of his young life that could very well have been the root issues as to why he developed an eating compulsion in the first place. “But I don’t point fingers at anyone,” Randy promises. “That’s not what this book is about,” he says.
“I had some really harsh experiences when I was a kid, and I think that’s why a ate a lot. I learned to find my solace in food and in other more destructive activities. But when I began my weight-loss journey I finally allowed myself to explore all those experiences–all the painful events–instead of stuffing them away. That was a huge part of my turning point and my recovery,” Randy explained.
Some people may be surprised at just how far Randy has come since losing the weight. I’ll confess here, no one could be more surprised than me. His life has changed in more ways than one and I couldn’t be more happy for him! Just a month ago Randy released his forth book, “The Life and Career of Marie Osmond,” and if you believe the tabloids, (and their comments section) Randy's been seen out on the town with a special someone he's been dating for a few months. Just thought I'd throw that juicy tid bit in there!
Yes, I’m very proud of my friend, Randy. Just sitting with him for this interview these few hours has been inspiring, even for me. I can see a glow in his eyes and he’s out of his shell, finding joy in his journey. There’s a light and a special spirit in Randy now and I believe he’s going to go on and do some great things with his newfound life.
Randy out walking