Jacksonville – Four years ago Jay Nye had a realization, if he didn’t change his lifestyle, he was
“going to die an old fat drunk.” That was before moving to Jacksonville, getting sober, losing 80
pounds, and getting the sweet handle “Tackleberry.”
“Two years ago, I couldn’t run two miles. Then I kept pushing and getting motivated. A couple
months ago I did my first ultra marathon, a 50-miler, and now I’m doing a 70.3 mile ironman.” That’s
just the physical side of things. He’ll be the first to tell you what keeps him coming back is the
relationships he’s built in the Gloom. “This great group went from workout guys to friends.”
The combat veteran marine and retired police officer has seen things no man should see. He knows
how easy it is to slip into a dark place mentally, self-medicating away the demons. “I feel like people
ignore mental health – like it’s a joke. I’ve lost friends to suicide because they didn’t have someone
to lean on.” He insists that men talk about these issues – even if that means a long run turn into
therapy sessions or marriage counseling.
He went from being angry, depressed, and overweight to being an inspiration to his two shorties.
“I’m showing them a healthier lifestyle. Before F3, I couldn’t swim, bike, and run with them. Now I’m
matching their energy and competing with them. It used to hurt too bad to do this stuff. It still hurts,
but not as bad.”
Tackleberry will tell you that some days are better than others, but if you keep showing up and plan
for big things, you can do anything – especially when you’re surrounded by a bunch of brothers just
as motivated as you are.
Cumming, GA – Chris Dotson’s F3 adventure started the morning of June 29th, 2020 when his uncle (F3 Hard Drive) introduced him to a world he never knew existed. Snowman, as he’s known in the Gloom, had just been dealt a gut punch that would take any man to his knees. The day before, he found his baby brother Brian (46) dead in an Atlanta hotel room.
“After the tragic loss of my brother, F3 was my saving grace. My uncle saw me the day we found my brother. I was a broken man and he felt the F3 Nation had something that could help. Wow was he right and an outstanding call on his part.”
Snowman will tell you that the men of F3 Cumming saved his life. The fellowship and accountability has challenged him to be a better man, husband, father, son, and co-worker. He credits them for connecting him back to his faith. ‘The fellowship and faith kept me coming back. The fitness was just a bonus.’
“I recall sitting in my car those first several beatdowns sobbing at 5:15 AM over my loss and then heading over to the flag feeling I was right where I needed to be. I was sold.”
He distinctly remembers his second beatdown that brought him all-in. ‘At that time (87 pounds heavier), I struggled with the mosey. This morning was a particularly long mosey and in the Gloom it is hard to see clearly. Eventually, I could not see the men any longer, about 2-3 seconds later the whole crew of men came back to me. They said, ‘we never leave a man behind’ and ‘never leave a man where we found him.’ They encouraged me to pick up my pace and I was all in at that point.”
Snowman is actively working to give away F3 to the sad clowns everywhere. He still has some fitness goals on the horizon and looks forward to bringing his son to a workout someday.
“I have changed emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. In addition, I am two years and eight months sober. F3 is truly an amazing organization, and I am fortunate to be a part of it.”
Fort Worth, TX – What is “Mental Battle” and what does it mean to have the support of the men in the Gloom?
Stories like this are always hard to start. I feel like I should start by sharing a bit about my time with F3.
I was EHed by Anchorman of F3 Alliance in 2021. He and I have been friends and coworkers for a long time and have also ridden bicycles for a few years. In Summer of 2021, Anchorman approached me about F3. I had a lot of excuses and was training for a pretty big ride in Texas called the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred. We rode together and after that weekend I told him I would come out.
Prior to F3 and prior to the pandemic, I had been heavily involved in men’s ministry at the church and had led men’s groups and men’s special events. Hearing about F3 from Anchorman, my draw to F3 was not the fitness, it was the fellowship. I know how important brotherly love is, and even more important it is to have support from friends during tough times. My family and I fell out of the church during the pandemic and although we had a few friends in the neighborhood, I really missed the brotherly support that came from the church.
Time to go back a bit, as a boy I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My father is now diagnosed with bipolar disorder and although I show symptoms of being bipolar I have been able to manage my mental health with the right medication and the proper counseling. As a boy, I spent time in mental health facilities and attended military school.
Many of these problems I dealt with as a boy, I ignored as a grown man to my own detriment. Prior to F3 there were times that my own family didn’t want to be around me because of the level of anger I possessed. I eventually sought help and began taking medication for my illness.
Let’s come back to the now, after starting F3 I jumped in with both feet. I launched an AO shortly after joining because I wanted to be able to share with my neighbors what I had found. In the Spring of 2022, I found out about the Mental Battle WOD by just hanging out on Twitter. I decided I wanted to bring this to the Alliance Region. I led the Mental Battle WOD for my brothers and then during COT I shared my own story. My own struggles with depression and anxiety and how being at F3 helped me deal with everyday stresses. I was so fortunate that my brothers in the Gloom allowed me to be vulnerable – to share my struggles. Some of them shared their own struggles. Knowing that I am not alone is one of the best feelings in the world. It allows me to be very real with things that I am dealing with and I believe it also allows the others guys to be vulnerable as well.
There are specific scriptures I share in my COTs when it comes to mental health. The one that I hold closest is Matthew 6:34 which says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
I feel like I have shared that scripture in so many COTs but it’s only because of how important it is to me. “Today is enough,’ is what I tell the guys.
The benefits to F3 when it comes to mental health really are countless. Those of us who have chemical imbalances benefit from the endorphins and adrenaline that a workout brings. (F1) Receiving support from my friends about my struggles allows me to be real with them (F2). And being able to lead those who also struggle with the same things allows me to live outside of myself and help other men find balance in their lives (F3).
When I post at an F3 beatdown, it’s not just a workout for me, it’s like going to see my counselor. If I’m down about something, typically another PAX will call me out, “SC, what’s going on? You aren’t yourself.” These are the moments when I realize how important F3 really is to me.
– F3 Short Circuit (back row, second from the left) F3 Alliance
Bentonville, AR – “See you in the Gloom” is something that all PAX say to each other nonchalantly. However, men everywhere are struggling in a different type of gloom day in and day out; with the majority of them doing so in silence. This gloom is the darkness that these men find themselves in as they struggle with their mental battles. Although I am only 27 years old, I have personally struggled in this type of gloom for over 15 years.
Growing up in a mentally and physically abusive household, has ultimately lead me to spend the majority of my life struggling with different types of mental battles. Depression and anxiety have been massive struggles in my life, and at 17 I almost lost my battle with them.
Now I can say that giving my life to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has helped me overcome some of the toughest mental battles in my life; however, there are still things that I have found myself struggling with. In April of 2022, a co-leader of a marriage enrichment class my wife and I were attending, invited me to this free men’s workout group called F3. Little did I know at the time, but F3 was exactly I was needing. Over the past year, I have been able to share some of my deepest struggles with the HIMs of our region, and have been able to overcome some of my biggest mental battles. There have been days that I haven’t been able to post for different reasons, and I can literally feel the mental relief the next time I post.
Growing up with a father who taught me everything but the right thing to do, did not give me the foundation to be the husband and father I wanted to be. Every man who is married and/or has kids, knows the stress and struggles of not feeling “good enough” for their family. Lately, this has been a massive mental battle I have faced, and one that honestly brings me a ton of shame. However, I have been able to learn lessons I was never thought, through fellowship with the HIMs of our region, and have been blessed with a shield lock group that holds me accountable to being better. These HIMs give me space to share my struggles when I need to get stuff off my chest, pray with me when I’m struggling with my mental battles, but also aren’t afraid to give me a swift kick to the seat of my pants when I need it.
F3 has introduced me to a different type of gloom. One that has pulled me from the one I’ve known my entire life, and the HIMs of our region and my Shield Lock empower and strengthen me to avoid getting lost in the dark gloom I grew to know way too well.
– Moen (far right) F3 NW Arkansas