When I first began my "fitness journey", searching for answers on how to lose weight, how to build muscle, how to feel awesome, etc. etc., I was faced with one major problem. I felt like everyone who was telling me how to get to where I wanted to be had never been where I was starting from.
How could all of these jacked, ripped dudes, and super hot, shredded girls possibly know what it felt like to grow up being a shy fat kid? How could they know what I needed to do when everything I so desperately wanted had come so easily for them? How could I trust someone with my insecurities who had never felt the sting of being picked last for dodgeball?
Well, the answer is simply, it was very hard to do. It's not that I never had the motivation to follow a workout plan, or hop on the newest super sweet diet.
No, I had no problem starting lots of things. But, the problem was that I could never picture myself as anyone but who I was right then. But, thankfully, I overcame it. And eventually, I was able to get the weight off. But it was hard. Harder than it had to be. And a big reason was confidence, or lack thereof.
Now, I am not saying that none of these people had gone through what I had. In fact, I am sure that many had. But again, I had no idea. It is so easy to get caught up in the after. In the results. In the now.
But sometimes that is not what we need to see. We need to see the before. The then. The struggle. And that doesn't mean showing some bullshit 90 day side by side progress photos. Nobody really cares about that crap. People care about the long struggle. The hard years. We care about the real journey. At least I did.
This is why I feel it is so important to share my journey with you. Not because I have a shiny new diet plan to sell you. Or the best workout plan. But because I know how hard it is to visualize getting to a place that seems so impossibly far that you aren't even sure if you are capable of getting there.
I grew up quite overweight, from a pretty early age. I don't know exactly when my trouble started, but it was well before my teenage years.
I didn't grow up playing sports, so I was never even able to build a sweet powerlifter base under all of my "baby fat" as my mom still insists on calling it. In fact, it wasn't until 8th grade that I played sports of any kind, other than a once a year track meet that my awesome, but ultra tiny private school held for us.
No, once I decided that I needed to lose weight I was just about as clueless as they come. I actually remember the exact moment that I realized that I was in fact, fat. Yes, I did say "realized". I quite literally grew up having no idea that I was overweight. Now, some would argue that this was a good thing, and that my self-esteem was probably better for it. And in some ways, they would probably be right. But I do not look at it that way. Once I realized how I looked, I felt cheated. Cheated out of years of looking and feeling like I wanted to. Cheated out of truly looking at myself for what I really was.
Now, this is not to say that I believe that there was anything "wrong" with me. Being overweight didn't make me any less important. But it did mean that I was spending years forging very difficult pathways to break free from. It meant that I was used to eating whenever and how ever much I wanted. And growing up this way can lead you down a very deadly road.
So, back to the moment when I realized I was overweight...
Picture a high school gym. Any high school, any gym. Not too nice, but not too run down either. Now imagine 4 boys playing basketball. Back and forth, up and down, missed shots, broken ankles, your typical 2v2. Then, suddenly, one of the boys shouts out "pass Fatty the ball".
"Fatty? Who the hell is fatty?" Sudden laughter erupts. "What do you mean who is fatty? You, man. You're fatty..."
That "you" was me, and I had never once in my life pictured myself as being even a little bit overweight, let alone FAT. I immediately walked to the locker room, took off my shirt, and quite literally saw myself for the first time.
That was the moment that launched my passion for fitness.
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking... Listen, I am in no way advocating fat shaming, or saying that anyone should feel bad about themselves for being overweight. This was a very unique circumstance where 3 of my best friends just so happened to make fun of me at the exact time when my self-realization stars were perfectly aligned. This is simply my story.
What I will say is that it is also not ok to enable children to grow up overweight. We have to stop looking at this as something that we must accept, and keep quiet about. We don't pretend that smoking is a genetic unavoidability, so why do we treat such a similar addiction in so different of a manner?
But, that is a talk for another day. The point of this story is simply to let you know that I understand your pain. I have lived your struggle. I have cried your cries. And I have been to the places that you too welcome in.
What I do is nothing special. I do not have magical genetics. I am you. And you can be me.