I was always a chubby kid growing up, and got most of my satisfaction from the foods I ate. And I liked to eat! Deep-fried foods, sugars, you name it I ate it. I loved food and it loved me back. But the more I ate and the more weight I gained, the less comfortable I became in my own skin. I avoided social interaction with people, and instead engrossed myself in online video games where face-to-face communication wasn’t required. It became a deadly duo of junk food and inactivity until I tipped the scales at well over 220 pounds.
The cycle continued until after high school graduation, when something inside finally spoke up. I discovered my motivation within. I had reached a point where I knew if I did not make a change at that very moment, I would never be truly happy with myself and my life. I don’t know what finally clicked, maybe it was being forced out of my comfort zone in my first year of university and being forced to interact with people my age in social situations, or maybe I just became more self-aware of the damage I was causing to myself both physically and mentally. Some people can be comfortable at a heavy weight – or at least outwardly portray a façade of confidence – but I wasn’t that type and needed to make a change if I was to accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish with my life: marriage, travel, and career objectives. I felt my weight would be a mental obstacle in my way – so I felt it was necessary to address it.
All that mattered at that point was that I knew I had to start somewhere. So began my late night walk-jogging (because I could only run in spurts). That progressed to nightly jogs and the runners’ high people talk about became my motivation. I cut back on food intake, but didn’t have a clue about diet. The weight came off over time, slowly but surely, and my addiction to food and video games became less. I went from a pudgy 225 pounds at 6’2″ to a skinnier 180 pounds in a span of about a year. I eventually got good enough at running to enter a few 10K competitive runs, and then eventually the half-marathon on Father’s Day in June 2006 – commemorating the two year anniversary of my lifestyle change.
Despite all that running, I wasn’t in love with my body. I still saw myself as skinny-fat with little muscle tone, and I had some stretch marks and loose skin in certain areas. That’s when I turned to weight lifting. Soon my passion for running transferred to the gym, where lifting weights became my passion. Desire to change motivated me to return to my gym asylum every day, and I began to learn more and more about nutrition and proper weight training. Slowly I gained weight of the good variety and fine-tuned my look, adding some muscle and definition.
In the after picture, I sit at 216 pounds – only nine pounds shy of my heaviest weight, but as a much tighter package. My journey is by no means over, however. I continually strive to get better and have a lot of room for improvement. It’s been gratifying to work each day on self improvement, both physically on the OUTSIDE and as a person INSIDE. The two go hand-in-hand. If you only focus on one without the other, you aren’t truly growing and improving.
That last point is especially important: In order to succeed and achieve, you need to improve yourself on the inside along the way. You need to create a positive mindset of yourself. We are our own worst enemy, but our thoughts are not some kind of truth manifestation, they are what you have created for yourself over many years. If you harbour a self-defeatist attitude in your mind, your goals will never be within reach. You must create positive thoughts so your brain will actually work for you, not against you.
Once you start to think positively, you’ll see all the opportunities life has to offer. When you start to get your self-esteem back and start to live and give and receive, positive thinking will spark your journey to a better life. There are tools to help you change your way of thinking – every day is a battle, and anything you can use to help win that battle should be utilized. I found the motivational speaking of Tony Robbins and books discussing the “Law of Attraction” can help you convert that pessimistic attitude into a positive one. Employing those principles in your everyday life CAN change someone’s perspective, and that simple change CAN have a profound impact on the individual, BUT only if the person is willing to pour their heart and soul into their goals and dreams and NOT rely on these tools to convert their positive thoughts into real world successes overnight. Hard work, in a smart and effective fashion – with these tools as the foundation – is the common denominator.
Hard work doesn’t just mean grinding it out in the gym day after day, but a commitment in all areas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means perfect with my diet 365 days a year, I enjoy the odd dinner out and socialize over a few drinks with friends, but I prep and pack food every day of the week and focus on good nutrition and hard, honest weight training 99 percent of the time.
Listen to your body and take a few days off if you need to, but don’t let it stretch for weeks and months on end. Consistency in all areas (diet, rest, training) over many months and years will get you to where you want to be. Slow progress is still progress. Don’t expect profound change after a month, but over time the work you put forth in the kitchen and gym will pay off. If you want it bad enough, nothing will get in your way.
I have some fat to lose and some muscle to gain, but that’s the beauty of this lifestyle. If you feel you’ve completed all your goals, there will be nothing keeping you on task driving you to succeed. Start your journey today!