Story 10

Making Me Feel Wanted
and Losing a Ton of Weight

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

Before journeying down this crazy road called F3, I was out of shape, lazy, sluggish, and irritable. I never wanted to work out, and I never thought I really needed to. About 6 months prior to joining F3, my 5-year-old nephew looked at me one day and said “you’re fat.” That was all, just one sentence as plain as saying the sky is blue. “You’re fat.” I laughed at first and thought “you dumb kid, you don’t know”! 

The next morning for kicks, I hopped on the scale and to my disappointment I weighed more than I thought I was! 272 lbs.! My heart sank. I knew I was bigger, but the heaviest I’ve ever been was in the 250’s. I instantly thought to myself that my nephew was right! I decided to start getting on the elliptical and eating healthy. It worked, and after a short 6 months I was down close to 50 lbs, and I felt great. I enjoyed working out on the elliptical, and I would watch Netflix and workout for around 60 minutes a day. 

During this time, I was losing weight like crazy, however; I noticed I was not nearly as strong as I used to be. I lost a ton of muscle in this time frame. I tried to lift weights but with lifting and elliptical there was not enough time in the day. I then tried to do Beach Body and some of their total body workouts. They were interesting and challenging, but I found myself giving up on them and not following through. The guy on the TV would try to push me, but he wasn’t physically in the room so I wasn’t going to listen to him.

About this time a friend of mine told me he was going to try this new workout group. He said they meet outside, it’s free and open to all men. I thought I’d give it a try. It was on a Saturday morning at 7 AM. We both went not knowing what to expect but instantly became hooked. I was drawn to the physical aspect and how this group looked like something from Beach Body or from a practice from highs school sports. The guys were chummy and joking around. It was good group of guys, and at the end of the 60 minutes, they had everyone circle up and talk about what was on their hearts and minds. Guys were talking about anything from prayer requests for cancer victims to being better fathers and husbands. The intriguing thing was that they were extremely open and honest. I was immediately drawn to the vulnerability that they were showing. I thought that I would never be this open to strangers about my struggles in life.

After a few days and weeks of continuing to come out the workouts something changed. I was part of the group, and guys were calling and texting me asking if I was going to be there the next morning. It made me feel wanted, and it reminded of my days in college with the camaraderie. The group welcomed me with open arms and became family. I continued to lose weight and to date I am down 70 lbs. It is a crazy transformation. Granted, I lost most of the weight on the elliptical but my strength is back. I have definition in my arms, chest, legs, and body. That is because of F3. F3 has been the total body workout that I constantly need every day. 

So here I am 8 months later still joining my brothers every morning at 5:30 AM for a workout and a bonding experience that I cannot get anywhere else. I have developed lasting friendships that go beyond the aspect of physical activity or a workout group. This group is life changing and lifesaving. People laugh at the term “male community,” but if you don’t have it, you are lost. F3 has changed my attitude on life, my patience with my kids and family, and my physical fitness. I could never get up at 4:30 and go outside in -15 degree weather to work out before the rest of  the world got out of bed. But through my brothers, their support, and F3, I am there every day in the gloom.

Jared “Mailman” Malone

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Story 9

A Lesson in Selflessness

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

The first I heard of F3 was from a coworker who told me a story about how he went on a “ruck” (I had no idea what this meant at the time) which began Saturday morning around 3 AM and continuing through the night into the morning. I couldn’t fathom wanting to get up that early on a Saturday for a workout – especially not for that length of time. It seemed unreasonable to me that you would waste a Friday night and Saturday morning for this. My idea of a perfect Friday night was coming home from work and cracking open a few beers while I relaxed on the couch with the family, so I told myself.

Looking back, after experiencing F3, I now realize my idea of a perfect Friday night was a far cry different than the scenario I described above. In reality, what I was doing over and over on Friday night was coming home from work, cracking open beer after beer after beer (usually until I switched to a liquor drink or two before bed) while I sat on my ass and watched the TV or scrolled through my phone while my family was in the same room.

It’s funny how your mind can portray a scenario in your head in a way that allows you to view your behavior as acceptable. I had somehow morphed my actions into something that, in my mind, I could tolerate; something that actually seemed respectable. My behavior was in fact not respectable, and moreover, in no way even acceptable. I now have a new perception of who I am as a man and what I want to be to my family. I’ve traded in drinks until after midnight on Friday nights in exchange for getting up before 5 AM on Saturdays to join these rucks which include physical exercise and uplifting conversation.

Since regularly participating in the events of F3, I’ve made a significant change to this area of my life as well as others. I used to be so focused on myself that I legitimately did not hear my wife speaking to me as I concentrated on my own thoughts. I’ve traded this mindset in for one that actively engages my wife on how I can show her how much I love her. Lately, I’ve seen a complete 180 degree shift in the strength of our marriage, and we now spend our time together enjoying each other’s company rather than getting into arguments. 

Apart from the improvement in my effort to be present in my marriage and in my family, the biggest change I’ve experienced since joining F3 has been a renewed interest in my faith. I once was heavily involved in my church community and actively participated in regular prayer, devotion, and reflection on readings from the Bible. All of these things underwent an abrupt extinction in my life on July 15, 2006 when my mother passed away from cancer. She was the foundation for my faith and the one responsible for giving me the mindset of selflessness. It didn’t matter what was going on in her life if someone needed her, she would be there. 

I remember one experience as a 17-year-old in high school that still sticks with me today. In that memory, I had to carry her from our van to the house. She was in her 5th and final year battling the cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatments to reduce the size of a second mass that returned and was recently detected. As a result of the chemotherapy, her body had grown weak, and at one point, unable to support her weight, she fell and cracked her hip and dislocated a disc in her lower back pinching a nerve. Also as a result of the chemo, she was unable to undergo surgery which is why I had to carry her into the house. As I was carrying her in my arms to the door, I remember thinking my physical strength is what she relies on to get through her day. If I slip and fall, if I trip, if I falter in any way, I will literally and figuratively let her down. It was at this moment, when I was thinking about how helpless and  hopeless she must feel, that she looked up at me and asked if we could go to her friend’s house later in the afternoon. She further explained that her friend was having a hard time with a struggle in her marriage and that she wanted to go over to help her deal with it over a conversation and provide support. 

The gravity of this statement has not weighed on me before in the same way as I write the words now on this page. She was in her final year battling cancer. She was unable to walk and in constant pain with a pinched nerve in her back. She had every right in the world to focus on herself and yet, her main focus was helping and supporting her friend. I will never have the chance to ask her how she had so much courage to focus on others at a time like this, but I will strive to be more like this every day. F3 has renewed my awareness of this mindset that has been rooted so deeply in my past and waiting to emerge after being buried for so long. F3 has been the shovel flag that dug up the seed that was planted all those years ago. It will also be the vehicle by which it is carried out and spread in the community. 

There is not a doubt in my mind that we, as like-minded individuals, can have a truly awesome impact on our communities. The selfless mindset is one that I will continue to develop and share with others and do good for those around me. I know she would be proud.

Jake “Jennay” Wittmer

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The Frog 2019 Pre-Blast

Announcing….. F3 Toledo’s 3rd Annual CSAUP Ruck

The Frog 2019

When:         Saturday Sept 21st, 2019 @ 3:00 AM – 9:00 AM
Location:   Downtown Toledo
Cost:            $20 per PAX member with the proceeds going to charity, TBD. Please use Friends and family and send through PayPal at

All finishers will earn the 2019 Frog patch.  This patch will never be for sale and can only be earned! #ISI #HIM

The Thang:
We will step off @ 3:00 AM sharp for six hours of 1st and 2nd F in the Gloom for some rucking fun, including PT, coupons, and the unknown.  This event will be completed as a team. Continued 2nd F will be immediately following the ENDEX with Coffee and Donuts provided.

Who Should Attend:
All F3 Toledo PAX and FNG’s.  If you’ve been to a ruck, and if you attend regular workouts with F3, you CAN do this! (We would like 100% of the PAX to be confident in their ability to participate we will complete this as a team)

Individual Requirements:

  • Rucksack
  • Headlamp & Spare Batteries 
  • Ruck Reflectors or Equivalent
  • Water Bottle
  • 20# of steel, pavers, etc. if your 149.99999# and under
  • 30# of steel, pavers, etc. if your 150# and over
  • Photo ID
  • Index Card with Emergency contact information and list of all current medications / dosage in a plastic bag

Recommended Items:

  • Gloves
  • Nourishment
  • Electrolytes in Nalgene, not hydration bladder
  • Hydration Bladder

Story 8

A Better Man

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

F3 came right on time for me. Physically, I was in the worst shape of my life. Working out at home or at the gym was something that just didn’t appeal to me. It was a start-stop kind of deal that just I didn’t make work. 

Spiritually, I was looking for basic ways to connect more deeply and meaningfully with God. With a growing family and growing responsibilities at work, I wasn’t making the daily decision to be intentional about prayer, reading the word, and meditating on it to apply it to my life. 

Socially, I wasn’t necessarily looking for new friends, but I was looking for some basic camaraderie with other guys. My friends were either not in the area, or, just like me, were living the married, kids, and work life with limited time for anything social that wasn’t a kid’s birthday party or a school related function. With no family in the area to lean on to watch the kids, social outings were rare. 

And then I was introduced to F3. I was skeptical of coming out to a workout at first because it sounded like something put together by a group of former special forces guys – which it turned out, I wasn’t way off the mark! I finally was peer pressured into coming out and immediately, I knew I’d found what I wasn’t looking for but that I was in desperate need of.

I played team sports growing up and F3 reminded me of the physical demands, interpersonal accountability, and camaraderie that I hated and enjoyed all at the same time! The first workout I posted to was on a high school practice football field. It reminded me of the perils of 2-a-days! And I wanted more! 

After a week of coming out, our 4th child was born. I had to take some time off, but I knew I had to get back. I realized that whatever this crazy F3 thing was that I’d said yes to, it was exactly what I needed at this point in my life. It was meeting the need I had for physical fitness, but more importantly, it met my need for social connection and a renewed connectedness with God. 

My wife looked at me crazy for a while. Up at 5 a.m. Working out in sub-zero temps. I’d clearly lost my mind! I don’t blame her! I would have looked at me the same way. The simple truth is that there were things that I needed in my life that I couldn’t verbalize at the time. But once I came out, I realized F3 was exactly what I needed. F3 means something different to everyone. For me, it’s been nothing less than a right on time blessing.

Greg “Modell” Braylock, Jr.

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