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"Choose happiness in a world of evil, be the treasure everywhere you go and always try to smile." -Zaylen Crannell
Full Name: Zaylen Uriah Winston Crannell
Belt Colour: purple belt aka (purple waist snake)
Professor: Will Grundhauser
1. Make my amateur MMA debut
2. Win an absolute division at purple belt
3. Walk around at 220-230lbs
4. Travel to Canada
Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. This growing problem needs a great solution and jiu-jitsu along with other exercises and a healthy diet may be the answer to this epidemic. Most of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. Obesity is preventable and with the right knowledge and correct lifestyle, countless lives can be saved.
Zaylen is someone that made a positive change in his life by dedicating his efforts to losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. With over a 100lbs lost, his ambitions and work ethic is truly inspiring. This is a great read for anyone that is feeling discouraged or needs some added motivation in both their fitness and jiu-jitsu journey.
What are common health consequences of overweight and obesity?
Raised BMI is a major risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as:
- cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012;
- musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints);
- some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon).
The risk for these noncommunicable diseases increases, with increases in BMI.
Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death, and disability in adulthood. But in addition to increased future risks, obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and psychological effects.
Take inspiration from Zaylen's story and make a difference in your life today and make sure to check out our health articles to help you along with your journey.
How long have you been doing jiu-jitsu for?
A little over 6 years now
Where do you train out of?
The Grindhouse in Billings, Mt
Do you prefer gi or no-gi?
It's wise to train both, but I personally enjoy the gi more no doubt. When I started out I didn't have a gi and would feel self-conscious about how I looked when I trained. When I got my gi those thoughts simply just vanished. Now it feels weird without it. Plus so much more is available in gi.
Have your instructors helped you in other aspects of life other than jiu-jitsu?
Absolutely in more ways than I could have ever imagined when I first started. Through good and bad they have all had my back and have pushed me to become the best me possible. I'm grateful to everyone who has been a part of this journey so far and looks forward to what the future holds.
Will Grundhauser (Head Coach and 1st degree Blackbelt directly under 5X World Champion Bernardo Faria Team Alliance.)
What are some lessons you learned from jiu-jitsu that applies to everyday life?
So many things come to mind but I'd say the biggest would be "just breath" everything in life is better if you do that first.
How often do you train?
I really like to think I train daily whether it be physically doing it or mentally. Online videos help with this. But right now I train every day but Wednesdays which might change. The easy answer for anyone would be, it just depends.
What made you want to start training?
I don't know if I ever really wanted to train jiujitsu when I started. I really just wanted to be happier and healthier. Jiujitsu just happened, one day my professor told me to learn some stuff and I've just never wanted to stop doing that.
Do you plan on training your whole life?
I believe jiujitsu is always with me, so yes, until the end we shall be friends.
What’s it about jiu-jitsu that makes it so addicting?
I'm sure everyone has their own reason. but my reason for why jiujitsu is addicting is simply it's never-ending. You can always learn more, refine what you have learned, and create new. If that's not the reason then I guess its just the pain/soreness I'm addicted to.
What has jiu-jitsu done for your physical health?
Its helped me to lose life-threatening amounts of weight. which has made many aspects of my life better. I quit smoking cigarettes so I have more endurance to train, plus better working lungs all around. Its helped me learn how to eat healthier and take care of myself. Learned I'm a part shapeshifter.
Has jiu-jitsu benefited your mental health?
Absolutely! jiujitsu makes me think about every aspect of life differently now but in a good way.
If you could restart your jiu-jitsu journey, would you do anything different?
I ponder this question a lot. there are a few times I want to say yes cause I stopped training for a few periods of time. But I still always come to the conclusion, no! I wouldn't change a thing. It all has reasons and lessons within. It has helped develop who I am today. But I do think about where I might be at if I started sooner in life.
What’s your advice for someone that’s never tried jiu-jitsu before but is interested in trying it?
You don't know what you don't know so why not, it could change your life.
Do you have any aspirations in jiu-jitsu?
I aspire to teach the knowledge I've gained over the course of my journey onto those who want to learn it. I want to inspire people to be the best they can be like those who have helped me.
Well, a little late but some pics from the night I got my purple belt. Thank you @grundhauserwill for always being there for me in triumph and defeat!! @maniacbjj thank you for always being an ear I can talk too and being such an amazing friend
So blessed for the journey I've been on this far and only more greatness to come!!! @thegrindhousemma
Best jiujitsu in Montana maybe even the world ;)
What’s your favourite move?
My first thought is posture!! Not sure if that's actually a move so I'd probably say wrist locks because they are effective and often overlooked.
They also remind me of the self-defence aspect of jiujitsu. which I feel is vital.
If you didn’t discover jiu-jitsu, where do you think you’d be now?
Probably still making excuses on why I couldn't change. Honestly, I know deep down, I wouldn't be in a good place mentally or physically if I didn't find jiujitsu.
Would you like to see the sport become more mainstream?
Yes, so more people see what it can do for them in life and so the people who want to see our art can see it as we create it live.
Have any of your training partners pushed you to reach your full potential?
Every one of them has! its what we do, push each other to be the best we can be as individuals and a team.
Always helping me improve on and off the mats
When you were first starting, what was the most difficult concept of jiu-jitsu that you had trouble getting?
Sounds strange but my lack of aggression. Being too calm made me not attack or open up and go for submissions often.
What makes you want to inspire and motivate others?
Why does anybody? it just feels good. Seems selfish but helping others just makes me feel good like I'm doing the right thing. Even if it doesn't always work that way.
Was there a difficult moment in your life where jiu-jitsu helped you get through it? If so, please explain.
Well yeah, that's an effect jiujitsu has, Like when you do it very few things really matter when doing jiujitsu, other than jiujitsu. As far as the difficulties go. I've had many along my journey from toxic relationships to heartbreak. but jiujitsu its always there.
What would you tell someone that is having troubles losing weight and is on the verge of giving up?
Everything that gives you the greatest rewards will always come with many trials so don't stop!
What was your mindset like when you decided to take your health into your own hands and decided to make a serious attempt at losing weight?
Honestly, I was in a mental prison of negative self-thoughts and just knew I needed a change. So I went out and found it. My mindset was really just limited to just losing weight. Now it's more about how I feel and consciously thinking about what I put into my body.
Swimming in my first gi started at an a6 now I'm an a4 wonderful
When you first started jiu-jitsu, you explained that few people wanted to roll with you because of your size. How did that make you feel? How did you use that discrimination as motivation to reach your goals rather than to just give up on the spot?
I never took it as discrimination really. I disliked it at the time of course. but as I think about the question, I realize all those who rolled with me back then still do to this day. which is crazy!
My motivation was to be able to do what everyone around me was doing. If they did discriminate I think I may owe them a thank you. it only made me work harder. Plus made many of my skills sharper because I drilled movement drills non stop for hours.
What would you tell someone that wants to try jiu-jitsu but is hesitant to make the first step onto the mats?
You don't know what you don't know. A friend could change your life if you try it.
When the journey is over, how would you like to be remembered?
As a big loving ninja with an electric smile.
Thanks so much for sharing your story Zaylen! I think it's absolutely incredible what you have accomplished and you should be very proud of yourself. When we first spoke only a month ago, you explained how you went from 364lbs down to 250lbs. That's a big difference and I am confident you will reach your goals of walking around at 220lbs. Almost there! keep going, and never give up on your goals. I also love your humbleness and admiration you have for your coaches and training partners. That loyalty is a rare quality but a great one to have. I wish you all the best in your weight loss, jiu-jitsu, and everyday life. Keep smiling you big loving ninja!
Zaylen's Final Thoughts:
In the long run, jiujitsu has changed my life in so many ways and I'm truly grateful for the experiences its provided me thus far in my journey. If I could leave the people with a little something it would continue to train. The more you train, the more you better your jiujitsu and your life. Final thing id like to give a huge shout out to "Will Grundhauser" and all my grindhouse family I wouldn't be where I am without everyone there!!