It’s remarkable what a person can achieve with a little bit of self-belief.
The problem is, the world is a cesspool of narcissism. When someone can’t achieve something themselves, all of a sudden they want to tell you that you can’t do it. It’s almost as if the majority of the world has lost the ability to dream and to dare; to grapple with every inner demon and insurmountable odd, emerging victorious from the battlefield stronger than ever and with an arsenal of hope, inner strength and confidence.
The greatest of journeys begin with the most miserable of circumstances. In spite of things like the suffocation of pessimism a new beginning is not outside of the grasp of hope.
And hope, found even in the smallest of measures, can inspire millions. It can lay waste to the twin wreckers- monotony and mediocrity. It can build empires, start a revolution, and give a man who has nothing left to lose the power to completely change their fate.
Just two years ago now, I was just such a man. I was morbidly obese, tipping the scales at 262 pounds. My hope was a dying ember.
My weight had taken its toll on me both physically and emotionally. While pride would have never allowed me to admit it to another person, I was severely depressed. A self-diagnosis that I treated with a gluttonous amount of food and enough liquor to poison the average man. I rarely left the house. Every time I did venture out of my house, I felt ashamed of the weight that I carried with me. The worst thing was that there were no reasons for being overweight. I had no medical excuse for my weight. I was lazy and I was greedy, a combination of which was potentially lethal.
To give you an idea, several times a week I would pull into McDonalds order a large value meal which I would stash on the floor of the passenger seat while I pulled into the KFC drive thru and ordered another large value meal.
And no, I wasn’t buying for anyone else.
It was a vicious cycle of overeating, feeling sorry for myself, and turning to food and alcohol as my comfort. I guess thats the paradox of addiction. We know that what we are doing is destroying our body, yet we still continue to do the same thing.
The turning point came around the time that my daughter was born, and as much as I want to say that my daughter’s arrival into this world spurred me onto this incredible journey, the truth is that I was tired. I was tired of being the fat guy. I was tired of wearing baggy clothes to hide my surplus of fat. Honestly, I was tired of being ashamed of the the man that I had become.
No fancy meal plan programs, miracle pills, or eating my meals from a straw. I decided to stick to a basic nutrition plan based on foods that I already knew were healthy. So I stripped everything back. I cut out all sugary drinks and processed foods and stuck to a heavy plant based diet with plenty of lean meat to fill my protein needs. My aim was to eat fresh, organic food as much as possible. If it came with a label I didn’t want it.
The immediate results were astounding. Within 5 months I had dropped 65 pounds.
The kicker? I never once stepped into a gym or had any sort of exercise program in place.
Besides the obvious results of completely transforming the way I looked, I felt great. Both physically and emotionally. It was as if I was a new person. As my self esteem soared, I even began to notice that I treated people differently. Feeling positive about myself created a brand new positive outlook on life which, in turn, radically affected the way that I approached other people.
Life was exciting again. It was fresh and new.
About 9 months into my lifestyle change, I heard about something called an obstacle race. It sounded like a challenge I would enjoy. So I made up my mind. I was in. However, I knew that while I was lighter than ever before, I would need to improve my fitness level.
And that’s when it got real.
Deciding to steer clear of gyms, I got up at 3 am five days a week to perform a rigorous calisthenics routine followed by a 10k run each morning before work. It wasn’t always easy, nor was it always enjoyable. Determination is a juggernaut of unstoppable force and I refused to let anything stop me.
Within weeks, I had muscles developing in places I didn’t know I had muscles. My veins were exploding from my body. I dropped to 4% body fat- and I felt great. I felt like I was absolutely in my element.
My first obstacle race was a Spartan Super in 40 degree weather.
I knew I was ready. I was going to own this race. Boy was I wrong.
After a freezing 8+ mile race, across hellish terrain, (complete with 180 soul destroying burpees) I crossed the line with a 42nd place finish. I had been underprepared and over confident. Every muscle in my body ached… even the bones in my hands were screaming at me. As I limped back to my car, I passed a handful of even more underprepared victims than myself who were writhing on the ground in pain. We tried to smile through the pain.
I was hooked.
The adrenaline when the race begins, the camaraderie on the course and yes, even the pain of pushing my body beyond a threshold I never knew that I could pass were all begging me to come back for more.
And I did.
When I returned home, I focused on my weaknesses and came back for seconds.
Turns out, that with the proper training, I wasn’t too shabby at this whole obstacle course racing thing, having notched 3 consecutive top ten finishes at Spartan Race events and also winning some medals in 5 and 6k road races. A local nutrition company, Mass Nutrition Chermside, even gave me the great honor of a sponsorship and it has been a great pleasure to represent a company that is regularly involved in OCR and reinvesting into the community.
As I continue to distance myself from the overweight, self conscious, depressed man that I used to be, the vision is always evolving. It would be pretty easy to give up. Channel surfing is always easier than hill sprints- plus, there’s never a shortage of people that are going to tell you that your goals are too ambitious. Maybe those people are right, but no great deed was ever accomplished through mediocre attempts. Failure is a waypoint on the road to success. You are capable of far more than you’ve ever dreamed.
Maybe you can fly if you had the courage to jump off a cliff.
My advice? Take that leap. Life’s far too short to wonder what you could have been.