Every year, for my birthday, my wife and my best friends take me to an amusement park. Riding roller coasters is one of my favorite things to do during the summer, and this particular day was not unlike any other trip – except for one serious, life-changing difference.
We arrived and sped to one of my favorite roller coasters. Once we finally reached the loading area, I hopped into the car. I lowered the safety harness, and it was tight. I wasn’t quite sure that it fit correctly. The attendant came through and pushed once, twice, and three times...then apologized that the harness wasn’t fastened correctly, and that I would have to leave the ride.
They then paused and had to release every single person's harness for me to get off. They restarted the seating process and, as I walked away, I felt every eye piercing the back of my head. I solemnly approached the waiting area and I realized I was sitting and waiting, not because I was afraid of the ride, but because I had gotten too big to fit on it.
This was my breaking point.
The next day, on July 6th, 2021, I decided to change my life. I weighed in at 313 pounds: the heaviest I had ever been. I realized that I had to create goals and, more difficulty, actually hit them:
1.) 220 pounds by December 25th.
2.) Develop a healthy relationship with food.
3.) Workout with cardio and strength training at least 5 days a week with active rest days.
My training partner played a huge role in my ability to accomplish those goals. Alongside him and our two wives, we created an accountability group; always pushing one another, every single day, to give 110% percent. We began with Ripped in 6, which to this day is still my favorite Stoppani program. Along with running a mile a day, reaching my goals was challenging, yet achievable. I remember after the first couple of weeks, when I got down into the 290s, actually crying. I really could do this.
The biggest hurdle that I had to overcome was at the table. The truth of the matter is, you absolutely cannot outwork a bad diet. I realized I had created an unhealthy relationship with food. I treated food as entertainment and a coping mechanism, not nutrition or fuel.
So I changed my eating regimen and followed a keto diet. This was crucial: it taught me what I HAD to eat in order to lose weight. Pairing this with Pre JYM and Post JYM, I was able to enter the weight room every day knowing that I was going to put in some work.
Over the next couple of months, my group completed the following programs: Ripped In 6, the 2019 New Year's Challenge, Super Shredded 8, Super Man Remastered, and Full-Body Shortcut to Size. Every program developed and brought new challenges for my body, yet every one delivered more results.
Jim gives us the tools necessary to make a drastic and permanent life change, but it all comes down to one key aspect:
YOU have to show up and put in the WORK. There are NO handouts and the ONLY person that owes YOU something is YOU. Show up, look in the mirror and do the hard thing.
None of this is easy, and no one ever said it would be. My personal hurdles were at the table and finding motivation on the days that I didn’t feel like lifting. I could find every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t go and get it done on those days – but you have to fight through. You have to eat the right things. You have to bust your tail every time you clock into the gym. Every. Single. Time.
If you do this enough, results will follow. I watched as my body changed: pounds dropped, clothes started becoming loose, and I started to see someone in the mirror I’d never seen before. These were the concrete proof that what I was doing was working.
Recently, I found myself walking toward the scale knowing that I had the chance to see 100 pounds lost. I thought about the past 6 months and how hard I had worked. It all became real as I stepped on the scale and saw a number I had never seen before: I transformed my body from 313 pounds to 213 pounds.
My friends and family couldn’t believe it. They all complimented me on how healthy I looked, and how well my progress was going. People in the gym didn’t recognize the man I had become, and every time someone said something like this, it is a personal win.
My advice to anyone starting this journey is this: You have to find your “why.”
My “why” is my wife. I want to be healthy for her. We don’t have children yet, but one of my life goals I have created is this, “I want to live a life unburdened by the repercussions that come with being overweight.” Every day, I want to give her my best and, one day, give my children my best, too. Every day I have to put my “why” first, over my own desire and selfish ambition. If I do this, I achieve my personal goals. Plain and simple.
In conclusion, this isn’t an easy journey. Not even close. As of this writing, I am working through the 2021 Holiday Shred Challenge and I have new goals to hit. I eventually want to lose more body fat and reveal more muscle definition. Long-term goals include getting down to 12-14 percent body fat and achieving visible abs. Going through what I've been through, I know that, with enough work, I can get it done.
By the way, I got my retribution: I went back and rode that roller coaster that changed my life. I can now ride any and every ride that I want. I can do everything I have always wanted to do – and you can, too.
To quote Kobe:
“Job’s not finished.”
Go out there and get it done.