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Former Mayor Johnathan Judd Is Leading By Example

Photos By Nolan P. Schmidt

Former Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd began his own journey toward a healthier lifestyle about four years ago.

“I had a doctor that was a pretty straight shooter just tell me if I don’t make my weight loss a focal point of my health it wasn’t going to end up very well, to be brutally honest,” Judd said.

Judd has always chosen doctors that are straightforward, holding him accountable for his weight loss and fitness journey.

“I had been physically fit as a high school football player, at least through my high school years and early college. But going to college, going to law school, I just kind of let myself go,” Judd said. “It took a doctor telling me straight that I had to make a healthier lifestyle choice.”

Judd’s first step after receiving this news from his doctor was to take advantage of the gym membership he had been paying for. He then took baby steps to gradually integrate more active habits into his daily routine. A big part of this was getting a better handle on his diet.

“You can go to the gym, all the time but if you’re not changing your dietary habits you’re not going to see a lot of change,” Judd said. “I started cutting out a lot of bread from my diet and started eating a lot more green vegetables.

Vegetables became a much bigger staple of my diet. For me, short-term dieting didn’t work. I had to make a complete lifestyle change that was going to be a long-term approach rather than a short- term diet. That was more effective for me.”

Judd emphasized that his strategy may not yield the same results for everybody, but it is what helped him start to see results. Everybody’s body is different and it will react differently to various stimuli. No one’s fitness journey is going to be
the same as anyone else’s, so it becomes important to manage your own personal goals and progress rather than comparing yourself to other’s fitness journeys.

“It’s your personal journey. It’s no one else’s journey. What works for me, may not work for everybody. Have your own goals.”

In regard to exercise, Judd started small. He began walking and had gotten a standing desk for his job at the time.

“The walking stepped up to running. Jogging to actual running,” Judd said. “I started doing just basic push-ups and sit- ups around the house.”

Already being short on time between work and raising a family, Judd had to make time for fitness whenever he could fit it in. He incrementally built up the intensity of his workouts

“I’m active with all my kids so I had to fit it in between their activities. At their practices instead of standing and watching, I would get up and walk around the field, simple stuff like that. Getting it in when I could fit it in, as far as those times to be moving.”

While the advice from his doctor was one of Judd’s initial motivators, he noted that thinking about the future was also a great inspiration. “The biggest motivating factor to be honest is I hope to be around to see my grandchildren,” Judd said. “I want to be able to control those factors that increase the likelihood that I can be around to meet my grandkids. That’s really the bottom line.”

Judd has lost 115 pounds over a three-year period. Now, Judd is only 30 pounds away from the weight he was at when he graduated high school. There were ups and downs along the way, but each failure became a motivator to keep moving forward.

“I’ve learned there are going to be weeks where you’re not going to probably eat the best. But next week you get back on your grind. I know what my triggers are and learn to avoid those triggers.”

To avoid late-night snacking, Judd would drink a couple of glasses of water instead before going back to bed. Even just getting as close to eight hours of sleep a night can have a significant impact on general wellbeing and health.

One of Judd’s current goals is to run a half marathon. His previous completed goals included running the 5K and 10K as part of the Go Far Challenge and finishing a 50-mile bike ride. These goals give him a reason to keep going to the gym and continue to stay active. Judd isn’t concerned about the competitive aspect of these goals, but the accomplishment of being able to complete these feats after putting in many hours of hard work and training.

“My journey is mine alone and you define your journey to a healthier lifestyle. I honestly swear by having accountability partners. I’ve got an accountability partner that I check in with daily, regarding my calorie intake or my food intake. Two gyms that I go to that I know the owners personally, and I get phone calls from them saying, ‘Haven’t seen you in a while.’ That’s the accountability that I need to make sure I’m on track with achieving my goals throughout my journey.”

The intent of an accountability partner is to help a person keep a commitment. Even on the days when you’re juggling family, work and everything else, they can still help you take those little steps to make a big leap.

Throughout his journey, Judd has been open about the successes and struggles. He has even shared his story through social media to help other feels inspired to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

“My purpose for sharing is merely to inspire others, especially during COVID. I’m not honestly a social media poster, but when I was a leader in the community I felt like I had to set a good example, especially with a lot of people struggling with mental health, which also goes into physical health. I wanted to be a good example to people in the region to say, ‘This is how I’m making a personal choice to handle stress.’”

By sharing his own ups and downs, Judd hopes more people can turn fitness into
a positive outlet. Judd also offered his key piece of advice to change your lifestyle.

“If somebody that cares about you is saying ‘I’m really worried about your health,’ you have to listen to them. That’s truly the first step. Stay proactive. Find that accountability partner that’s going to motivate you to get started.”

Since making exercise and healthy eating a priority, Judd’s noticed a significant improvement in his daily life. From eating more vegetables and adopting intermittent fasting to finding opportunities for physical activity, Judd has gained more control over his life while building a healthier lifestyle.

“You feel better. I’ve noticed a dramatic change in how I approach life. After I’ve eaten healthy lighter meals, I feel more energy. I think clearly,” Judd said.

Judd has become a prominent figure and voice in the Fargo-Moorhead community following his run as mayor of Moorhead. He is using his platform to communicate the importance of living a happy and healthy life while sharing his own experiences as an example.

“Looking back, I’m really honored and grateful to have served as mayor,” Judd said. “I’m truly honored that the residents of Moorhead trusted me to do the hard work on behalf of the city. I was grateful and blessed to have a great team, the city staff, the city council that really did all the hard work. I have nothing but fond memories of serving in that role. It definitely was a team effort, and they definitely made the work very rewarding and fun.”

Jack Hastings

Written by Jack Hastings

Jack Hastings is the Editor of Design + Living and Co-Editor of Spotlight Media's Fargo Monthly publication. Hastings is originally from Hillsboro, N.D., and is a graduate of North Dakota State University's strategic communication program.

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