I remember the pain of being chubby throughout high school and into my college years. I had a face full of acne which contributed to my uneasy emotional state. Mentally, I had highs and lows and kept many of my negative thought patterns bottled within. My path to wellness wasn’t always easy.
I wanted to be taken seriously but doubted that would ever happen as long as I had those flaws.
At first, my desire to change was for all of the wrong reasons. It was for glory and the ladybugs, of course. I had to portray that tough guy image to make up for my lack of confidence. I wanted to lose weight and achieve that “perfect” physique for status.
Why was that?
During that time, I never once reached out to others for help, something that I regret. And if I could talk to my younger self, I would encourage him to open up and be more vulnerable.
As I reflect on where I am today, I want to share a little bit about my health journey and how it grew into something much more the moment I changed my perspective.
How did I get this way?
I have always been a sports-minded guy. I wasn’t 6-foot tall or blessed with “natural” ability. I had what is defined as a “fixed mindset” meaning I felt like there was little I could do to change my so-called misfortunes.
Throughout high school, I believed the masses when they said that “politics” decided my fate. While this may have had some truth to it, I still never felt that I lived up to my own expectations.
To me, failing meant weakness. So I chose other things that didn’t require me to fully commit instead of what I wanted.
I found many ways to channel this negative energy, one of which was humor. I never took things seriously, always being that chubby, funny guy. This made me feel like I was providing value. It was a persona that I carried throughout my life as if it were an expectation from those I knew.
Truth was, it was my low self-esteem that made me that way. I constantly struggled with being the person I wanted to be in my late teens and early 20’s.
I was happy
I’m not trying to play this off like my situation was somehow worse than others. I was a very happy guy with an incredible childhood and a loving family. I had so much to be grateful for in life and had the furthest thing from a rough life. But problems are all relative.
Fortunately, I have always been an extroverted person and gotten along well with others. I did everything in my early 20s and created many incredible moments that I’ll never forget. What I was dealing with never held me back or kept me from doing anything I wanted.
I always found enjoyment in life and “coped” with my negative thoughts. For the most part, I was aces.
Yet, I felt off almost all of the time.
It wasn’t depression, nor did I feel bi-polar. Just off. I can’t quite place my finger on how to explain it but the few terms that come to mind are envy, criticalness and misunderstood.
The fact is that my lack of confidence from being overweight and having acne kept me from being satisfied with myself and anything I did. Almost like I was holding something back. And it definitely explained my neurotic behavior that I couldn’t control.
But this is this the way all 18-22-year-olds feel at some point…right? How can someone that was truly happy with endless opportunities, be so unsure and off?
The psychological term for my lack of confidence was an inferiority complex which is also associated with doubt and uncertainty. And as I looked up what that means for the first time in my life while writing this article, I finally faced a reality I ran from for the longest time. Fucking a’.
Come to think of it, this is the first time I have ever talked about the self-confidence issues I had with anyone. Even Michelle.
Cheers to the new blog, right?
Refusal to show weakness
I was damn good at keeping my distance and portraying strength. I always wanted to figure life out on my own because it was the only way to gain back the control I desperately needed.
Unfortunately, I missed critical opportunities to talk to someone about the negative thought patterns I had. It certainly would have been helpful to prepare me for my negative mindset that was common in my early 20’s.
I thought, fuck that because this was an admission of defeat. This was my problem. My story. My struggle to overcome. But I’ll be damned if that ain’t irony at its finest.
Never once did I consider a self-help book, because what if people saw me with it? That would make me look weak. Faking confidence was something I determined as my only option. However, avoiding the root of the problem only made it worse.
Life’s defining moments
The college transition was a real eye-opener for me. At 5’6 20 lbs overweight with a face full of acne, it was tough being the only one among my friends and peers with my physical struggles. I was envious of people who portrayed confidence, people who were in great shape and had shining, acne-free faces.
In the beginning, I looked around in awe at the big dudes in the gym as if they were the Monstars from Space Jam. Guys who had been training hard throughout their high school years with great physiques and clear faces. I would always wish I had that swag’.
As with any big life transition, it provided the perfect opportunity to make a change. Losing weight was to be the first major change for me.
As fate would have it, I had a roommate who also had a shared interest in weightlifting and health goals that were somewhat similar to mine. Throughout college, we grew an incredible friendship that we share today. I can’t say exactly how influential he’s been in my life, but I guess some things are better left unspoken.
I am a habitual creature, which is good and bad. I love routine and hate it when shit gets me out of it. If someone or something pulled me away from anything that helped feed my weight loss obsession, I would be pissy about it and become critical and negative.
Throughout my college years, I had a lot of body image issues. One of my biggest fears was the mirror. I avoided them like the plague and I abused them. To illustrate, I’ll give an example.
I hated my pecks or man boobs at the time. Absolutely hated the shape of them. I used to look in the mirror in specific angles to get the look I desired to reason ok, I can move on now (the same thing I did with my acne). I couldn’t move forward until I accepted it. It was a weird obsession, I know.
So I just avoided them for the most part.
In health too
I constantly obsessed over missed workouts. If I didn’t hit the gym the sky would surely fall. I convinced I would pack on fat and look plumper. With my nutrition, it was the same. Any indulgence was catastrophic and made me think of how far back it would set me.
I would have to stare into the mirror and look for ways to feel better about myself thinking about the time until my next workout. Or avoid it.
I needed a change in perspective.
Taking back control
I didn’t want a quick fix. I wanted to feel better about myself and I was ready to do anything necessary to achieve that. I did not want some bullshit quick health solution. To be in control, it had to be on my own.
I realized that the control I so desperately sought was right under my nose.
I may not have been able to completely solve my problems, but I did have a choice. I could feed my body with food that can help me build muscle.
Weightlifting and healthy eating became my release. A chance to take back control and feel unstoppable. An outlet to push everything out of my mind and focus on ONE thing.
Sure enough, I began to feel a difference.
Although I was at a healthy weight throughout college, I wasn’t satisfied. I still had acne.
It was then that I realized that the only thing left was the mindset. I had to deal with the emotions left over from my younger years.
From grad-eation to 25, I was solid. Sure I still had a few problems and struggled with acne for a few years (until I found the diet and facial strategy. Stay tuned), but it wasn’t as noisy in my head.
And I would be lying if I didn’t say that meeting and moving in with Michelle was the single best thing that happened to me.
The more I read and grew my mindset, the more my overall wellness grew. I was unaware how much momentum I had been building since age 23 until one day, after listening to an inspiring podcast, it just clicked. That ever elusive epiphany moment I had been searching for my entire life.
A moment of clarity that set me on a path toward something bigger.
A lesson learned
In both my obsession to fix my body and mind, I stumbled into an abundance of fascinating research. Research that has completely changed the way I look at everything nutritional based and makes me question everything I have ever known.
I began learning the powerful healing effects of food and the benefits of the simplest movement. I learned nutritional techniques and strategies toward reducing acne. Like the importance of reducing inflammatory foods in my diet and the influence stress has on skin condition. Also, did you know gut health is tied to poor skin conditions?
The same strategies that cleared my face up except for a minor blemish here and there.
When I eat a healthy meal I feel alive and rejuvenated. I have experienced the incredible results of quality nutritional strategies both in body and mind. I have seen living examples and read countless stories of healing. I can say with full confidence that nutrition is one of the most fascinating things in this world.
Food to me is not something we just eat, and saying that we live to eat would be a farce. It represents something much bigger. Without this realization, I would have never been able to accept and focus on the other important things in life.
The biggest lesson of all
I’ve had hundreds of workouts in my life and I can’t even begin to count how many of those workouts I moped around unfocused. The same can be said about the countless meals in my life.
It is the collection of simple, but brilliant moments in life that define who we are. In the weight room, at the dinner table and in life. It was never about my ability to lift a bar to lose 20 pounds. Nor was it really about having those perfect pecks I always wanted.
To me, true strength will always be my ability to find inner peace and acceptance. A realization I learned because of my ability to show up, pushing through my fear of failure.
Despite my wrong reasons for doing it at first, I showed up. Despite my self-doubt and negative thought patterns, I showed up.
Why? Because I had and continue to have an unspeakable amount of things to be grateful for in life. A loving family, great friends, ed
ucation, opportunities, the list goes on and on.
That is really why I choose wellness. To live life as incredibly and helpfully as possible. To not waste the God-given privileges I have in life that so many people do not get.
It is my duty and honor to pursue unimaginable things for those who can’t or think they can’t.
Now, I aim to live and breathe health. No matter how busy life gets, I can say without an ounce of doubt that it is something that I will never sacrifice. Because I know that it leads to a mindset needed to unlock every ounce of potential I have from within.
At first, the reasons to take action do not matter but with the right fuel, the fire burns brighter and brighter.
PS. I say with full confidence that I am at peace. So I don’t want sympathy nor do I deserve it. Although you probably doubt me because of the above, I promise I’m not just saying that. I wouldn’t be writing this if that were the case.
Also, I picking pictures was more difficult than I thought. I can’t find any good old ones to save my life so I’ll backfill them later.
Adios two slices of Oscar Meyer bologna with a Kraft single on a butternut bread white bun with a handful of smashed down Lays potato chips.
Rest in peace, PB and J on white bread with crumbled up Doritos in between dipped in A1 steak sauce.
Good riddance 40-bag of pizza rolls cut in half to optimize scooping power for a disturbing amount of Hidden Valley ranch dressing.
So long boxed white waffle mix with copious amounts of peanut butter on it.
Goodbye Pillsbury dough boy layered biscuits with too much butter spread on each individual one.
Farewell Cinnamon ego 4-square waffles.
Do you have a wellness story you want to share? I and many others would love to hear it! Send me a note if you’re interested and maybe we can work something out!