Archive for the ‘Personal Triumph’ Category

Ex-Wesson Star Stuns Doctors with Recovery

"The only person who can hold you back is yourself."

“The only person who can hold you back is yourself.”

That’s a quote that I repeat to myself everyday. My name is Drexel L. Hudgins and this is my story. I can only hope that it leaves you with a new outlook on life.

As a child I had the benefit of having both parents in the home along with two younger sisters. My parents always had me enrolled in one sport or another and it kept me out of trouble and off the streets. I liked football and baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed basketball. Whether it was playing with the neighborhood kids, the local 3 on 3 at the mall or being involved in a weekend tournament I lived basketball. As I got older and started to grow so did my skills on the court. I started playing in elementary and continued on through high school were I received a full ride scholarship to Colorado Northwestern Community College; it was a two year school in Rangley, Colorado. While attending CNCC I knew that I was going to better myself mentally and physically on the court.

A couple of months into my scholarship a classmate and I decided to go home for the weekend. The school is located in the mountains and it had snowed a couple of days prior to us leaving. As I was packing up my bag to go home, I decided to take my mountain bike so that I could do some riding over the weekend. We headed out mid morning and as we drove my bike kept tapping on the back window. Eventually my classmate asked if I would move my bike so that it would stop tapping on the glass. As I took off my seat belt and proceeded to climb into the back of his Ford Bronco we hit a patch of black ice. From that point on I don’t remember what happened. The report that my classmate gave to the authorities and my family stated that we rolled three times. The force of the blow propelled me out of the window and I was somehow tangled up in my bike.  I had broken the C5-C6 vertebrae in my neck which resulted in brain hemorrhage and and later pneumonia.

I was transported by “flight by life” to the nearest hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado, and my chances of my survival was slim and none. It seemed like forever before I finally opened my eyes. I was heavily sedated. I was greeted by my family and girlfriend at the time. I was so heavily sedated I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t move anything but my eyes. Later on that day the doctors came in and explained what had happened. I was paralyzed from the neck down with a steel plate and screws  in my neck. On the positive side of things there was a good chance that I may get “some” sensation back since I was young, athletic and took care of my body. I was there from December 9 to December 23. I was then flown to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado. This Hospital is known as one of the best spinal cord and brain injury hospitals in the country!

Drexel 8

From day one at Craig Hospital I told myself that I wasn’t going to let this obstacle get in the way of me living my life no matter what the final outcome would be. I started physical and occupational therapy. I always pretended to be fine; like nothing bothered me; imagined I was the same person I was before. Although I fought hard everyday and gave it my all,  I still felt like less of a person. I started to think that all the effort was for nothing; that I would never walk again; I wanted to give up. One night however I had a dream so vivid and real that I was going to walk the next day during a pool therapy session; that I pleaded with therapist to let me give it a try and for the first time in two months I began to walk again. Everyone was amazed that I was up and walking so early considering the type of break I had in my neck.  From that point on there was no holding me back. I had overcome self-doubt and now believed that I could accomplish anything.

I then prepared to make the transition back home to face “my reality” for the first time since the accident. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I had gone from being a popular guy at school; known for my basketball skills; to the guy that was  in a car accident. I lost friends and my girlfriend at the time and for years afterward I battled personal demons telling me that I just wasn’t good enough. That I couldn’t be productive in society. I wasn’t attractive; nobody would ever like me for who I am. I thought myself a total failure. The only thing that helped me to relieve stress and take my mind off of things was my time at the gym. At first the gym was a scary place to be, but after a while the athlete in me came back. As I got older and started following the ways of the world I lost my passion for the gym. I would be consistent then stop and this routine went on for years. Until one day I looked at myself in the mirror and decided it was time for a change. The pity party was over and I really wanted a six-pack!  My journey on the path to being fit and healthy began. After a solid year of training at the gym I could see some serious results and I was getting stronger every day. One day I was approached by a fellow gym rat about competing in a bodybuilding competition. I never gave it much thought until I actually did my own research and went to my first show. I thought “hey I can do this; plus I could be the first disabled men’s physique champion!”  So I began researching and asking around and getting advice about what I need to do in order to participate in this sport. I soaked up everyone’s advice like a sponge and decided that it was what I wanted in life. To make a difference not only in my own personal life by competing in my first Colorado NPC Men’s Physique Bodybuilder Show but to show others to never give up on life.

The sky is not the limit... I am.

The sky is not the limit… I am.

I can honestly say that this sport has changed my life and opened doors for me in such a positive direction I couldn’t have been more blessed. Currently part of team Ultimate Transformation, they’ve given me hope and opened my eyes to the bigger picture of how I can affect people’s lives. Show people never give up on your dreams and that with hard work and dedication you can do anything, no matter what your physical ability is. It’s not what your body can do; it’s what your heart says you can do.

Talk to God or whoever you believe in and ask for peace and understanding and you’ll be surprised at the doors that will open for you. The only person who can and will hold you back is yourself.


Contact info Twitter: @drexelhudgins53  Facebook: Drexel L. Hudgins  Email:


I’m Fit Not Skinny


Growing up I struggled a lot in school with my academics.  I hated school and my teachers always accused me of giving up and not working hard enough.  My parents both owned their own businesses so I would be dropped off at school and left alone to get home, watch TV and eat.  By the time I was in the 4th grade I would go home and make a full box of Hamburger Helper or other boxed item.  I always loved sports and was even on a traveling basketball team. I never got to play because I was “too fat and slow”.  I began to hate practice because I knew I would never play. After a while I quit basketball and didn’t pick up another sport until volleyball came around in Junior High.  I could care less about the food I ate.  I just knew that I felt better when I ate.  During my 5th grade year I started having severe side pains and I struggled with the pain for 6 months till my doctor took out my gallbladder.  Two months later, I fell and dislocated my right hip and had to have emergency surgery.  I was on crutches for 2 months and I continued to eat and eat because I was behind scholastically and was missing out on what other kids my age were up to.  Going into the 6th grade I was right around 175lb.  I always joked about my weight and figured that it gave kids at school less of a chance to make fun of me.  At the end of my 6th grade year I switched eye Doctors and found out that one of the reasons for my poor academics were “somewhat” related to the muscles in my right and left eye.  One was weaker than the other.  I spent the following summer in eye therapy while everyone else was swimming and playing summer ball.

Alison with her brother

When I got into High School I got started on the Atkins diet and followed it on point very well.  I lost 40lbs, but then didn’t lose anymore.  I wanted to just maintain, but it seemed that no matter what I did, I continued to gain weight.  Going into College I refused to gain my weight back, but I gained that and more.  I reached my heaviest of 226lbs.  I was working out 3-4 hours a day; sometimes I’d skip class to work out, and actually would go a few days at a time without eating.  I was working for the football coach in the Athletic Department when one of the coaches recommended that I take a personal training class.  All my friends were athletic trainers or in some form of the Sciences so I took the class. With my exercise and diet being monitored for 6 weeks and me continuing to gain weight and inches, my professor/basketball coach informed me I should visit my Doctor for further help.  After visiting 3 different Doctors, the 3rd one finally diagnosed me with hypothyroidism.  This is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones.  It can be brought on by several factors, but one main cause is simply being obese.  I had a huge risk of becoming diabetic and I didn’t want that.  Family members on both sides have it and I didn’t want that for my future.  I came home after getting my medicine and googled, “Diabetic Diets”.  This site brought up a simple to follow plan and I dedicated my whole summer to the workouts from combined with Oxygen Magazine’s workouts and meal plans and in 3 months I had lost 35 pounds.  I continued to buy books on thyroid disorders and met with nutritionists, and started working out with a woman trainer who had a back ground with hormonal issues.  The weight continued to come off and since I chose to make being fit my LIFESTYLE, like Oxygen Magazine references, I’ve lived by those principles ever since.

Alison with her brother

I know that ultimately, my strength comes from God.  I know that the desire he placed in my heart is for HIS will and I’m only following along for the ride.  I see it as the struggle that I had to overcome helps me to guide and encourage others; just to hear me say “You Got This”.  I ultimately believed in myself and I KNOW that everyone has it within them, it’s just my job to figure out what motivates them so I can tap into that and bring out their fullest potential.  Working-out is only part of being overweight. It’s so much more mental.  We all need someone to hold us accountable! The desire to never be the old me drives me on a daily basis.  I see so many individuals who overcome serious physical challenges and my challenge is “my self’.  I know what I need to eat to stay fit.  If my eating slacks, so does my attitude towards myself and others.  I want to lead by example. Those closest to me have loved me at my worst and now we look back and laugh about how I would eat a whole bag of Oreos.  I’m disgusted with my old self, but we look back at it because it was something only I could do for myself.  So many times when I was overweight I would pray to God to look like my friend.  I compared myself to others and would stand in the mirror and tell myself I was ugly and that I shouldn’t even be living.  I HONESTLY, am my worst critic.  I am harder on myself than anyone could ever be.  I have had to learn to accept myself and love myself for who I am.  I realized I couldn’t even love my family until I really loved myself. 

Alison (centre) with brother, and cousin on right – 2009

My lowest point, which I rarely tell, is that one day I was driving home from my cousin’s house and I thought that if I actually hit the bridge I would die and wouldn’t have to live in my ugly body anymore.  I remember hating myself so badly I would go to sleep wishing to die.  There is nothing worse than the feeling of not even believing in yourself.  NEVER will I be there again.  I LOVE ME! 

I’ve completed 2 1/2 marathons and several 5-10K runs and walks.  I was featured on Nike Women’s “Making Yourself” spotlight, recognized by Complete Nutrition’s Success Story of 2011, featured in Oxygen Magazine August 2011 and will be in an upcoming issue about Thyroid disorders. I am a Life Guard, Water Safety Instructor, CPR & AED Instructor, Spin Instructor, and as for May 28th… PERSONAL TRAINER!  I will be getting my Zumba certificate at the end of July and deeply desire to do the Nike Women’s full marathon in California one day.

I currently take BCAA’s and glutamine after each workout and currently my workouts are two times a day, however I also have classes that I teach.  My week starts with upper body and cardio, day two lower body and cardio, day 3 cardio 2X , then rest and repeat. I’m working on my abs right now so I’m really cutting out all sugars and salts. I have not had a nice stomach since birth. I’d love to see it!

My Current Meal Plan:
Meal 1 1 1/2 cups green veg and 1 piece fruit 
Meal 2 2 cups veg

Meal 3 1 1/2 cup green veg 1 piece fruit

Meal 4 1 scoop whey protein 1 piece fruit
Meal 5 2 cups green veg
I drink unsweetened almond milk with 2 cups spinach in between if I need an extra boost of flavor or energy.

Alison (today) Fit not Skinny

I originally started my fit journey because I was afraid I would never get married, but after finding out there was so much more to being “fit not skinny” I’ve dedicated my life to it.  I never would have imagined I would have done the things I have done so far.  I gained a whole new self-respect for myself and that is why I started training others.  I want them to view their lives as valuable and worthy.  I want others to know that they matter and that they are loved.  I want to help others gain their life back. I want them to be in control of their next move and share that encouragement with one other person.  If I can change ONE person’s life, I will die a happy woman.  It’s all for HIS glory. Let’s keep motivating others and sharing our stories and hopefully we can help that one person that I once viewed as myself.

Live to inspire, and be inspired to live.


Twitter: @Fit_not_skinny Facebook: Alison Hager Instagram: Fit_not_skinny

My blog:

“From G-Fat to G-Fit”

In setting up our twitter account, one of the first individuals to follow amongst a slew of media folk was Michael E. Green otherwise known as @G_Fit_ToRoNTo_. As he walked (tweeted) with us through the setup phase, his tweets were unassuming, and very friendly; RT’ing motivational and inspirational tweets, as well as his workout regime. If this guy isn’t working, he’s working out, or advocating for fitness! #truth As we became more comfortable, and our vision for @socially_fit became more defined as a place to create a #network; get #engaged; share #experiences; and raise awareness around #fitness; we set out to #build the #brand. Needless to say @G_Fit_ToRoNTo_ became one of our  main supporters. At this point it became quite obvious that fitness and wellbeing was something that he was very passionate about, but who was he? We decided to take a quick look at his profile to gain a better understanding, and sure enough we found out that Michael recently lost 90lbs, and has maintained his weight loss for 8 months! No wonder he’s excited. With Canada in the midst of an epidemic of overweight and obesity (currently, 59% of adult Canadians are either overweight or obese) we begin to  wonder about his motivation, and if he would be interested in sharing his story; so we DM him, and guess what? Here’s his story in his own words.

“To say that health and fitness had absolutely nothing to do with my life in the past, would be grossly understated. After turning 18 I quit playing sports and started to enjoy the nightlife. Alcohol [abuse], drug [abuse], horrendous eating habits, and a complete lack of respect for my body all led to an increase in weight that I could not control. My diet was full of fast foods, nothing but processed garbage going into my body for 16 years. Without any thought that I was destroying both my body and livelihood.

Last Easter while visiting my family in Niagara, a lot of pictures were taken. A week later they were emailed to me. What I saw in these pictures absolutely disgusted me! I had let myself go completely, and the pictures sure showed it. I looked so big that I couldn’t believe my eyes. I looked massive, even more so next to my girlfriend who is 4’11” and weighs 105 lbs. I jumped on the scale and saw I weighed a heart breaking 267 pounds! I could not understand how it had gotten this out of control. After thinking about my life I realized change was desperately required.

On April 29, 2011 I made a decision that would change my entire life. No more processed foods,  fast food, or sugary beverages. I began a strict 1500 calorie a day diet. When I got home from work I would do 45 minutes of resistance band training. I kept up with the new plan and found I was feeling great. After 3 weeks I checked the scale again. What I saw blew my mind! I lost 19 pounds in 21 days! At that very moment I knew that what I was doing was really working. It motivated me like you couldn’t imagine!

I started going after this weight loss like a maniac! I refused to revert to my old ways. I started enjoying being active and eating healthy. I was finally taking my life back. By August 2011, I dropped down to 177 pounds! It happened so fast and yet I knew this was only the beginning. Now it was time to make sure that all of this hard work would last the rest of my life. Each day now I’m extra careful about what I eat, when I eat it, and how many calories I consume. I still keep track of my calories as it makes the maintenance phase much easier. Every time I see someone I haven’t seen in a while and they tell me how great I look, it just makes me glow inside! When I look at myself now, I know that I want to get better each and every day!

I work construction and long hours are the norm. Finding time for the gym was not going to be an option. I had to do it from home. Once the weight was off, I switched from resistance band training to weight training. I do my cardio by running through the city and my weight training in my basement. I purchased a universal weight machine, free weights, benches, pull-up bars, ab wheels, kettlebells, skipping ropes, and medicine balls. Everything I need is right here so as soon as I’m off work, I’m able to grind through a solid workout without having to leave my home. Throughout the whole process, I have never trained with a personal trainer. I learn my workouts from magazines, books, and talking to a few friends I have who are trainers. All of these things really helped me. I’m constantly learning new things and this keeps things fresh and enjoyable.

My workouts now start with 45 minutes of cardio. I’m more into weight training now so I do Day 1 upper body, Day 2 lower body and abs, Day 3 cardio and circuit training. I rest Day 4 and then attack the routine from the beginning again. I’m always switching exercises and routines so that my workouts do not become stale. New exercises really intrigue me. I’m so new to this lifestyle that I am always surprised by the things my body can actually do.

The hardest challenge I found was making sure I stuck to my ultimate goal. When I lost around 50 pounds, a lot of people told me how great I looked and I didn’t need to lose any more weight. I started to think that they were right, but I remembered what my goal was. I knew that I had to push myself even harder!

When I was at my heaviest, I was in a state of denial. Instead of telling me I was fat, everyone would tell me I was just a “big guy”. I really didn’t agree but I did nothing to change it. As time passed I started to look at myself, and I realized I was obese. I was so out of shape it wasn’t funny. The more I thought and envisioned myself being fit, the more I didn’t like the guy I had become. Wearing size 40 pants and XXL shirts was not appealing! I realized this “big guy” was actually a “fat guy” and it was killing me inside. I didn’t like what I was seeing and my confidence was dwindling.

My friends and family have been extremely supportive through this whole process, especially my girlfriend. She works out 6 days a week including 3 Muay Thai classes! Knowing how hard she trains definitely kept me going! During this transformation of mind, body, and soul, everyone has been incredible. Helping to push me, keep me on track, and keep me motivated! The best part is some of those same people who encouraged me, are now asking me for guidance and tips! I truly love knowing that what I’ve accomplished now motivates my friends and family as well! Just as they supported me, I now do the same for them!

I currently weigh 188 pounds. I am starting to put on muscle and am completely satisfied where I am. I think my overall goal is to be between 195-205 pounds with a body fat percentage under 8. In the beginning my plan was just to lose weight, but as I progressed I realized more and more that I want to help others achieve their goals and become healthy as well! I am considering becoming a personal trainer. I will start by getting my CanFit Pro certification and then I will add more courses and certificates from there! I can’t wait to switch careers and get the chance to motivate others!

I really want people to understand how easy it is to make simple changes and better their overall health. I worked 12 hours a day and still made time to make a difference in my life. Even 20 minutes a day of light exercise combined with a healthy diet can make a significant change in one’s life! It’s never too late to better yourself. I’m turning 35 in June and am in better overall shape now than I was when I was 18! You just have to ask yourself, how bad do you want it? Read nutritional info on foods because it’s there for a reason! Think about what you’re putting into your body. Your body is your temple and once you start treating it as such, you will find a level of respect for yourself that you never thought possible!

If I had to leave you with one thought, it would have to be this: don’t ever doubt yourself. We are much stronger than we could ever imagine! It’s in each and every one of us to be great! We’re all so consumed with our busy lives that we make excuses for our poor diet and fitness routines. It’s time to change the current trends of obesity and start fighting to take our lives back. No one ever said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it!!”