Fitness isn’t about a crunch or a pushup. It’s about taking your power back!
The person that I am today would not recognize the person that I used to be if you placed him in a line up with 4 other “ME” look-a-likes. That is an absolute blessing. From what I can gather, there are more than a handful of people around my age that hit the proverbial mid-life crisis mode seemingly all at the same time. To say that I joined them in that journey would probably only be half the story.
My crisis was pretty much my entire adolescent life right into my 30’s. Here is the funny thing about that. Not many people would have noticed because I hid it really well until the split came between my wife and I. I hit rock bottom with a thud. I know many of the readers also hide their pain, anguish and disappoint. More on that later. The man I am today loves the reflection that peers at him in the mirror every morning. The man I am today welcomes the sunrise by opening my blinds the night before so it is one of the first magnificent things I see in the morning. The man I am today cares about his health and his body but more importantly his mind and his emotions. The recent changes I have made in my life has also brought on many new interests and hobbies. I love photography, and carry my camera every where I go. I’m still a huge sports fan and will probably still get neurotic around football season. However there are so many wonderful things manifesting in my life right now from starting a new business in the next few months, mentoring others through the darkness of their lives (Me! A life coach, who would have thought), to taking my mother in and making my home her home. The only thing that I feel is an obligation in my life now is to live it full of happiness, joy, health and unconditional love for any and everyone that crosses my path. To find the BLISS in life and get swept away in it every opportunity that I have.
It was not always this way. I have a pretty huge extended family. I am also a product of a fractured home and re-mended family. I was the baby of four brothers and one sister for a long time, then my little brother came along ten years later. Too confusing to draw all the lines in. My parents divorced early in my life and then my father remarried a family friend and her family became our family as well. Needless to say that relationship ended in a pretty nasty divorce that forced me and one of my siblings to go live at my Grandmothers in Miami until the dust settled over. My wonderful grandmother on my mother’s side (Grandma Stella) was and is an angel or as near as a saint that I have ever seen walk the face of this earth. But she was a saint with rules, a belt and a bible. Lets just say as a kid I never listened to the first (rules) all the time and received the second (belt) and third (the bible) on a regular basis. I grew up as an alter boy in the catholic church and I remember many times when the Priest would say those all too familiar words “Do this In Memory Of Me” then he’d wait for me to ring the bell and I would be over on the side with the other alter boys goofing around and not paying attention. I would spend a good majority of my childhood grounded or in some type of trouble. Still are very pleasant memories. We were brought up on Soul Food. Meat and potatoes, Ham hocks, Chit’lins, Collard Greens, Mac and Cheese, Corn Bread, Sweet Potato Pies. Not exactly the cleanest way of eating but my Grandmother always made sure all of the kids (my cousins stayed over all the time) were in activities or forced to play outside until the street lights came on. I started playing football then to stay out of trouble and didn’t stop until my senior year in high school. We always had family cookouts and worrying about food, calories, processed verses unprocessed foods was never even heard of. We ate hearty, played a lot and most of the kids never suffered childhood obesity in my family. Then again, video games were just making their way into mainstream America and didn’t have its hooks into us yet! Those were the good times. It got inevitably darker after that.
I later chose to live with my mother and the Judge would not split me and my older brother up so he had to go live with my mother as well. She had a really hard time getting past the divorce. Actually, she still hasn’t gotten past it truth be told. That led to us bouncing around from place to place. Finally settling down in San Antonio, Texas in what I would not exactly call “Section 8” housing but it had all of the familiar symptoms of “Section 8” housing with the crack-heads and broke down cars. Life was rough, free lunch kid, working at 14 and barely getting by all the way through my senior year. I stayed busy though, with football, track and baseball when I wasn’t running the streets. So I was always fit in high school. The coaches tried to put me on multiple weight gaining programs but I did not have the heart to tell them that I couldn’t even afford to eat the amount of calories they wanted me to intake. So I just got by. College….well it was a blur filled with fun, crazy times and lots of debauchery and lets just say I’m surprised and fortunate I made it out alive! Next Subject!
I was never really passionate about fitness when I was young. I guess you could say I was blessed with good genes because I could eat any and everything and then drink a six pack and not gain an ounce. I was always active and I guess it somehow balanced out. My awareness and passion came after my metabolism decided to pack it’s bags and head off to Italy or some where far far away. When I hit 27, I packed on 25lbs before I even noticed. I went from the really skinny kid to filling out the way I always wanted to; but it didn’t stop there. For some reason it never clicked in my head that, “Yo Stat, you know this weight isn’t going to stop piling on if you keep doing what you’re doing – right?” In a matter of 3 years I went from 145-150lbs to 200lbs. Holy Crap! My passion for fitness was sparked when the reality set in that I had hit 200lbs. Like everyone else in the mainstream I grabbed all the fitness magazines, celebrity health books (the LL Cool J book was pretty good in hindsight) and jumped on every fad diet I could get my hands on. I lost pounds and when I stopped the weight would come right back. I yo-yo dieted for the next 6 years never losing more than 10-15lbs at a time. When it was all said and done I weighed 226lbs. More than I started with. The heaviest I had ever been in my life. At 5’8 and a half, what the hell was I thinking?!?
Today, fitness and healthy living is such a pivotal part of my life that I am amazed I survived this long without it being the staple of my well being. I walk daily now at least 2 to 3 miles weather permitting. I hit the gym or do something in house to get my heart rate up as much as I can during the week. I choose the best option of foods to eat that I have available but I don’t make myself crazy over watching each and every calorie. Just generally track my calories. I also introduced meditation which I believe was the single solitary thing that has made my transformation possible.
“The body does not go where the mind does not lead it”
Not having a clear mind, a relaxed mind, a peaceful mind I feel would have made it easy for me to stop doing the things that were important for my overall health. It’s as simple as loving myself completely unconditionally for who I am right now, to who I will be in my mind’s future. It’s so important for all of us to lock into that mindset before ever making any goals and pushing like crazy to achieve them. You have to be aligned with your goals mentally and physically before you will ever see the results that you strive towards. My everyday goal is so simple: “Every Day, In Every Way, I Am Getting Better and Better.” My goals ascend as I ascend to just be a better overall person in every category. It does however turn out to work both ways because feeling healthy and being full of energy allows your mind to think more clear and sometimes twice as fast.
It’s always good to have a support system around you. Family, close friends, workout group of your peers. I have always been fortunate to have the greatest family and friends around me who always have supported me in my decisions whether they were idiotic or not. I think however in today’s culture the emphasis on this support system has caused a false premise to be made into a belief. It is that belief that often trips up many people. For me, while a support system is good to have, maybe even important depending on where you are mentally and emotionally, it’s not a necessity. When we couple ourselves so tightly to our support system we tend to allow their beliefs, likes, dislikes and philosophy to imprint on and cloud our own judgment. We often find ourselves acting out of obligation to another instead of being internally driven. This creates conflict within ourselves which just forms another road block you must maneuver around while you still work towards achieving your goal. You should always be your most important Support System. You should always check with yourself first to see if something is right for you. Your emotions are the only guidance system you ever need. it will always steer you towards what will ultimately make you happy in life. At the end of the day, the decisions made are only for you to live not others. However, when you are completely happy, free spirited and filled with love, everyone around you benefits including your support group. You may even realize that you have the power to influence them to find themselves and make a change FOR THEMSELVES. What has been most rewarding for me is now people gravitate to me from all different walks of life and I am having such and amazing time interacting, learning and sharing with these wonderful people like Shay and the team at Socially Fit.
However to get to the place that I now am, I had so many obstacles to get over. The funny thing is that every single obstacle was placed in front of me by myself. I think that was the hardest thing to get over. To come to the realization that I was my own worst enemy. Sure I had a disjointed childhood, and yes I live in a time was we were completely flat broke and had to come home to eviction notices on the door. However, I used all of the short comings in my life as excuses not to get to where I knew I deserved to be. I also brought a lot of the baggage into my relationships and thus effecting other peoples lives as well as my own. So when I look back over my entire journey, my hardest obstacle was loving myself, trusting myself and believing in myself. I was always very sarcastic even if I put a humorous twist on it. I had low self esteem, self defeating thoughts and depression. I felt unworthy and sometimes even a failure, especially after my marriage broke down. I resorted to drinking heavily all of the time. 8am in the morning was a great time for a beer on the weekend and I would drink until the sun tucked itself into bed and the moon came out to party. Non Stop. It even started to blend into my work week which left me dragging and uninspired at work. I swear, If you can lock down these three virtues in your life (love yourself, trust yourself, believe in yourself), your life will be become infinitely better in just a short amount of time. There is a saying, I’m not sure first coined it, that it goes: “If you can not change the situation that you are in, then change your perspective on the situation.” It might sound a bit cliche, but there is a positive in every situation, and I think it is your absolute benefit to spend all of your energy searching only for that positive silver lining and not laboring over negativity that often blinds us.
Once you can do that, then your goals and aspirations become so much more obtainable. I use to hate running with a passion. I mean really really hate it. Kicking, screaming, slobbering you get the picture. One day, I decided that I was going to change my perspective on running. I was going to play a game or movie in my head as I ran that had a purpose and a meaning so that I was not senselessly running for no reason once so ever. I realized that running actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. It didn’t get any easier but my feeling towards it was much more favorable now. Once I got the taste of enjoyment from running, especially when you finish and all the energy is just coursing through your body, and your covered in sweat and you know that you accomplished something good today, its such a shot of confidence that you want to get out and do it again as soon as you can. This lead me to the goal I that I never saw myself ever even attempting let alone doing. That goal was to run a 5K marathon. I am happy to announce that early this year, I accomplished that goal and ran the whole thing non-stop and even beat a few of my friends that run marathons on a regular basis! I got my first 5K medallion and it hangs from my rear view mirror and I look at it every day. Never again will I tell myself that I can not do something. What a tremendous feeling that was! It only fuels you to want to do more. I also had a goal to get from 226 lbs back down to 180 lbs in 6 months. Two weeks ago, I also eclipsed that goal and I am not sitting at 179 lbs. The lightest I have been in over 10 years. So along with what seems to be life long dream to get my six pack abs back, my new fitness goal is to run the Tough Mudder in November 2014 and get down to a solid 170 lbs even. I could have run the Spartan or the other 5K races but why do those, when I can challenge myself to tackle the behemoth!
So I really start training next week. I will continue to walk 2 to 3 miles a day. I will restart my Insanity Program from the start and I will hit the gym about 3 days a week to start off with. I’ll listen to my body and then adjust day by day and week by week. I love to juice (vegetable and fruit juicing people, not the needles) and if any of you haven’t tried juicing I heavily recommend it. It was an important factor in my dramatic weight loss. I will substitute a juice for one of my meals 3 times a week, eat as clean as I can and just enjoy the journey. I mix in plenty of salads and I eat chicken a lot! I have actually cut out almost all supplements, I found out by juicing on a regular basis my body responded so well, I did not require anything else. I will continue with what is working moving forward. I can’t wait. I’m pretty damn excited. I do use a recovery drink and add in some whey protein but that is it for supplements.
As for my meal plan once I start working out, I haven’t quite figured out what I am going to do yet. I have never done an intense training regiment along with weight training at the same time. Before I boosted my caloric intake up to around 2100 cals a day. I’m not sure how much fuel that will give me for this next chapter in my journey so I will blog it about it as I go along and see where I end up. However, I do have some staples that I stick to pretty religiously which will not change much with whatever plan I decide to go with. Eat Breakfast. It is so important that everyone do this for so many different reasons but the one that means the most for me, is the energy burst in the morning. I normally have oatmeal with flax seeds and some type of chopped up fruit. If its not oatmeal, I love eggs and I’ll have three to four eggs as a wrap or on whole wheat toast. I tend to pile my carbs on in the morning and afternoon. Evening most of the time is protein and vegetables unless I sub in a juice. Make your meal plan something that you like to do, something that is easy for you to maintain and can be switched up to add variety. I often sub in fish for my protein for my dinners. Salmon is my favorite especially on the grill. You also do not have to be chef to cook and eat clean healthy meals. I have a YouTube Channel I’ll mention at the bottom of this article that teaches you have to cook some quick delicious meals if you’re interested.
What an amazing journey this has been. I have met so many people who were in a rut just like me. Basically getting up each day just to get the day over with. No ambition, No vision for a better future. The endgame was just to stay afloat long enough to survive to the next day. I am here to tell you that your life does not have to be that way. You do not have to settle for what your current reality is giving you right now. You can demand to have a better life and the go out an seek it with the passion and zest that you never knew you even possessed. It all starts when these few things that I feel got me on the right track.
1) Tell yourself this Every Single MORNING: You are an amazing person. You are strong, you are smart, you are WORTHY and you deserve more.
2) You have the power within yourself to change your current situation. You do not need help from others. You do not need a hand out. You do not need follow anyone else’s path. Follow your gut feelings, they are there for you and you alone.
3) Every day in every way, KNOW That you are getting better and better. You have to stop being so hard on yourself. Stop self criticizing and instead start focusing on the things that you appreciate about yourself and the life as you are currently living it. Look around at the things that you are proud of. Take time to appreciate those things. Friends and individuals that inspire. Appreciate them. Spend the majority of your time looking for the blessings, not the slights.
4) Make your most dominant focus every single day, about something positive in your life, or something that you find inspiring. When ever something unfavorable comes into your existence, become an active thinker and change the subject in your mind, focus on something good and hold that thought for as long as you can, and your mood will change and so will the things and people around you.
5) Break the cycle. This is so important because we all have become such creatures of habit. Take time to dissect all of your habits. Highlight the good ones, the ones that make you feel good and add value to your life and make a list of the bad habits, the ones that lead to depressing feelings and anger or despair and eliminate them. Whenever you feel you are about to move into that bad habit, you will know because you will feel uneasy. Check yourself in the moment and change.
You have all of the tools you need to be as successful as you want to be. The inner you has been waiting on you to realize how special you are and that this person is who you always should have been. Find that person, embrace that person and in time you will be standing where you always wanted to be, feeling proud, accomplished and full of Bliss.
I want to take a moment to personally thank Shay and the Socially Fit team for allowing me to come here and tell my story. I am not really good at this type of thing so if I rambled too much and jumped from topic to topic; I’m extremely happy that you are still here reading! I really enjoyed this time and it gave me an opportunity to stop and reflect and really appreciate how far I have come. Shay and the team are doing a wonderful thing here at Socially Fit and I am a fully supporting them from this day forward. I love the stories that I have already read and I look forward to more inspiring stories in the future. Hopefully I will be able to sway Shay into coming over to my blog for a guest writer piece from time to time as well.
So with that said, there are a number of vehicles where you can get in touch with me and follow my journey. I have just launched a YouTube Channel titled: A Healthy New Stat which covers the three major pillars that help me get my life back in order. The Mind (meditation, inspiration and exploration of thought), The Body (healthy eating, cooking tips, quick healthy recipes), and The Spirit (all things that brings joy, laughter and smiles). Please come by, watch some videos, interact and Subscribe if you like what you see.
Or My Blog which I’ll be launching in the next couple weeks – tons of inspiration and motivation along with links to my videos and guest blog writers.
Please feel free to come find me at any of these outlets. I respond to everyone personally and I love making connections. If I can help you along your journey, I would consider it an honor to be by your side!
Love often; love always and love unconditionally. May you become the healthiest fittest version of yourself that you could ever dream of.