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Everett Jolivet felt like he was about to die.
“I was at home by myself one day, lying in my bed, and my dog licked my face,” he recalls. “I actually think that saved my life. I sat up, then grabbed my chest and felt like I couldn’t breathe, like I was having a small heart attack.”
Jolivet didn’t call 911—in hindsight, he admits he should have. But he did make a momentous, life-changing decision when the pain and fear subsided. “I was like, I just have to stop and make a change,” he says.
A former high school running back and track star, Jolivet admits to “just getting lazy” in the following years and living off a time-bomb diet of pizza and other high-fat foods. His weight increased by hundreds of pounds after graduating from Texas Southern University with a degree in counseling. His activity levels got worse—even after signing on as a personal trainer at Hardcore Gym in Galveston, TX. Around the time of his health scare, he was 33 years old and tipped the scale at 405 pounds.
He thought of his father, who had been a bodybuilder in his younger years but gradually fell out of shape, then died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 42. He wanted to honor his dad’s memory and not make the same missteps. And with three young daughters, regaining his health wasn’t just for himself—it was for his family, too.
“That first day, I thought back to high school and what I did to stay in shape then,” Jolivet says. “It was cardio. So I went to a local track, jogged a lap, walked a lap, then did it again. That was one mile.” Day after day, he returned to that track. Soon he was up to two miles, then three with ease.
Realizing diet was a make-or-break component of his quest, Jolivet pulled all the junk food from his fridge and dumped it in the trash. He also vowed to stop eating carbs late at night. “I think I was like a lot of people in that I would eat and then go to bed with a full stomach,” he says. “It made me feel good, at least emotionally.” He went cold turkey, eliminating carbs and sugar in the evenings, and started prepping healthy foods ahead of time, such as grilled chicken, fish, white rice, and sweet potatoes.
As his weight-loss efforts gained momentum, Jolivet added weight training, following a five-day split of legs on Monday (jogging around the outside of his gym in between exercises to infuse a cardio component), arms on Tuesday, shoulders and abs on Wednesday, and back on Thursday. He would take Friday off before restarting the cycle over the weekend.
After a year of those simple yet fundamental changes, Jolivet had dropped an incredible 233 pounds and was down to 172 pounds. Others immediately took notice. He says new clients began clamoring for his training services—then the competitive bodybuilding stage beckoned.
In 2018, competing around 162 pounds, Jolivet entered his first-ever show, the John Sherman Muscle Beach Classic in his hometown of Galveston, finishing runner-up in the masters over-35 bodybuilding division and fifth in the open bodybuilding middleweight division.
In 2019, he earned his first class victory, winning the masters over-35 division at the NPC City Limits Championships. And while at the NPC Muscle Beach Classic, he won the open bodybuilding middleweight division, took second in the masters over-35 division, and earned second in his men’s classic physique novice division.
Now, no matter what the future holds, Jolivet is rightfully proud of the road he’s traveled from that moment in bed when he thought his heart was giving out to his life today.
“When I was 405 pounds, I’d hear people say it’s hard to lose weight, and I wish I would have done this, I wish I would have done that,” he muses. “With my weight loss and with competing, I didn’t want to let time go by and be like, ‘I wish.’ Why not just go ahead and try and see what it leads to?”