I’m 45 years old this year, and my fitness journey started 30 years ago. I grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Africa, during a civil war. When I was 15, my parents divorced and I was dealing with anger and depression from the divorce and grieving family and friends lost in a pointless war.
I had seen my dad lift weights, and I started lifting to help my self-esteem. It helped me deal with my anger and depression, too. It also helped with other sports, as I played rugby, water polo, and hockey. By age 19, I had started competing in bodybuilding competitions, and I loved the gym. It was my happy place. I continued to train, but less rigorously through my 20s and 30s while I worked in rural Zimbabwe as a missionary.
Twelve years ago, I moved to the USA with my wife and two kids. We no longer felt safe in Zimbabwe and moved here seeking asylum.
I continued to work out, but with no clear goals, and my weight went from 190 pounds to 250 pounds as I faced new challenges and a new start in life in a new country. My wife had an affair soon after we moved, and my battle with depression and low self-esteem overwhelmed me.
That same year, my wife had another affair and my depression was back. In early 2017, my wife had yet another affair and she filed for divorce. I was suicidal and at the lowest point in my life.
My weight shot back up in a few months, and I was not eating well and trying to train with poor results. I just could not find the energy or desire to plan a workout.
I’ve always been a man of faith, but faith could not help my physical health, and I was physically and emotionally exhausted. After suicidal feelings and major anxiety, I checked into a hospital and had time to reflect and think about my life, my goals, my passion, and my self-worth.
Thankfully, I had good friends at church, and soon I was back at the gym enjoying my own personal victories. I loaded up with Pre JYM, Post JYM, and Pro JYM, and I hit the gym daily as soon as I could.
In June 2017, my wife left me with a pregnant teenage daughter and a teenage son and moved from Indiana to Montana. It was not only my own depression, but two hurting children to juggle.
I started another round of Shortcut to Shred. The program gave me a daily activity I could control at a time when so much was out of my control. It was therapeutic being able to just focus on myself for that hour at the gym.
The workouts, Pre JYM and Post JYM, muscle memory, and lots of anger turned into motivation that brought results fast. I was soon down to 210 pounds and 7 percent body fat. My kids saw my energy levels rise and I was able to rebuild a safe home life for them as a single dad.
After Shortcut to Shred, I found Super-Man and Down and Up Mass and loved both programs. I found the JYM Army was full of people who had beaten their own battles and won, and I read posts daily to find encouragement. I continued to train all through last year, seldom missing a day.
The last few months have been busy with moving house with my kids and becoming a grandpa, but I managed to do the Ripped in 6 Challenge and I loved it.
I’m loving the gym again, and so many friends have noticed the change. Not only my body, but my mood, my health, and my depression. My goal in 2018 is to carry on training and to lean out. Diet will be more of a focus, and my next challenge will be another Shred or HIIT 100.
I’m only competing with myself, and I’m winning. I cannot thank Jim and the JYM Army enough. I have found my spark again, my love for the gym again, and I’m enjoying my kids and being a grandpa. I’m excited about being healthy, feeling healthy, and looking forward to the future.