After 8 years of being a vice principal and a principal at a local school my blood pressure was up to 152/122 and I was on 3 medications for anxiety, ADHD and blood pressure. To boot, I had a full shoulder replacement, two knee surgeries, an elbow surgery and a hand surgery. I was averaging 3 hours of sleep a night. Most of the time I would lay in bed until midnight, drift off, and then I’d be up by 3:00AM. Needless to say, medical professionals loved me.
During the 2021 and 2022 school year I had 2 major panic attacks and blacked out three times. On one occasion I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom when I became light headed, fell, and hit my head on the wall. I woke up several minutes later to find myself laying face down on the floor. I became deeply concerned about where my health was headed. I was even more concerned that my incredible wife and daughter would lose me all too soon.
It was then that I resigned from administration — taking a $27,000/year pay cut — and took a new position as a math resource teacher. I also got back to putting me and my family first. I started doing the things I love the most…spending time with my family, coaching mathematics, coaching strength and conditioning, and helping to build Capital’s BJJ competition team.
All of these opportunities presented themselves because of the amazing people in my life. Specifically my wife and daughter, Holly Dowling, Chad Malone, Paul Herring, Jen Zanotti-Ferrari and Jeremy Lafreniere. Relationships matter. I also invested in growing my sports performance and mindset company, Forged Athletics.
Fast forward to one year later.
I’m off all medications, down over 43 lbs (huge shout out to Jen Zanotti-Ferrari for that), my blood pressure is normal and my resting heart rate has dropped from an average of 77 to 59/60. I am feeling free, light and healthy in ways I haven’t since my 20’s.
Everything for me is now thriving! I am enjoying my life and I get to be a part of the healthy transformations of so many others. I even added some new goals and recently competed at the Fuji BJJ Winter Championship, my first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition since 2005! Next up will be the World Master IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship in August.
Life is too short to not do what you love while being with the ones you love.
As for the $27,000… I didn’t lose it, I spent it on me and it was worth every penny.
Sincerely, thank you to everyone who has been part of my journey. I love you all.
BJ Ketchem heads the the strength and conditioning program at our facility in Lorton, VA, and co-leads the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition team across the Capital MMA & Elite Fitness locations. He is also the founder of Founder/Head Coach at Forged Athletics, and is currently a Math Resource Teacher at Fairfax County Public Schools.
Thank you Musa Visual Media, LLC for the amazing portrait!