Our bodies are incredible gifts and no greater gift exists. Unfortunately, it took the first 30 years of my life to realize that and begin to create optimal health for myself.
I was the fat kid growing up. Sure, my Mom has a few childhood pics of me when I looked “normal”, but for the most part I was the “fatty” of the social circles. It wasn’t uncommon in my family to be overweight. We all struggled with food addiction. Still do. Food cured sadness, went great with happiness and instantly fixed loneliness! Food can also be quite dangerous.
Remembering back as far as my memory will take me, I can’t recall a single time that I wasn’t overweight. That said, I won’t have to share any stories of making the sports team, going steady with a girl or taking my shirt off at the pool. Why? None of those things ever happened. I was not only fat, but in the band too. Not a recipe for class hunk. I turned out to be a decent drummer, though. Looking back I probably picked drums as my instrument because I thought drum sticks involved food. I was either feeding my mouth or running it. I quickly learned how to make people laugh so they would like me. I had lots of friends. Even girl friends (notice the space). Of course, I had quite a few bullies too. I wanted to be like the other boys in school with the muscles and the pretty girls. I wanted to feel accepted.
I grew up in a single family home with my mother and older sister. We all loved food. We were all obese. It may sound silly, but I never thought about where the food ended up after I swallowed. Out of sight and out of mind. With every bite I was creating a monster. I struggled so bad with my food addiction, that I would literally eat until I couldn’t fit any more food in my mouth. I shouldn’t use the word “food” because there was seldom any actual nutrition going in my body. We would eat fast-food at least once a day. I would not be surprised if I averaged 8,000-10,000 calories a day. It’s no wonder I grew to be a 400+lb. adult. How did I never win any crazy money or cars from that Monopoly game!? My favorite meals growing up (other than fast-food) were beanie weenies, frozen pizza, anything fried…you get the point. Green was what you spent on dinner, not what you ate for dinner. Also, I loved saltine crackers and milk eaten like cereal. No joke. My eating habits were out of control. I would go to McDonald’s on my way home from work so I could eat before arriving home for dinner. Truth. I would always throw away the “evidence” at a local gas station. I was ashamed of myself, but couldn’t control my actions. I didn’t know where to turn for help. “Fat” people are people too. Our society reaches out to those who struggle with drug or alcohol addictions, so why are overweight people shamed? I didn’t WANT to be fat!, but kept waking up that way? I did the numerous Monday morning “I’m gonna do it this time” plans, including a little exercise and some healthy food choices, but no luck. This vicious cycle lasted throughout my entire childhood and much of adult life until I met Carter.
I’ll remember that Wednesday morning as long as I live. It was February 6th, 2008 and I was joining an 11am fitness class at a local gym led by Carter Hays. I showed up with my water bottle, “it’s for real this time” attitude and gym shoes. I was nervous and carrying 400+lbs. I survived the workout. I even went back that Friday. I couldn’t get out of bed all weekend, but I couldn’t wait to return the following Monday. Then Wednesday. Then another Friday workout. Woah, my priorities were changing! Exercise was becoming a daily part of my life. A life that was once consumed by a television remote and a dollar menu. Carter didn’t simply help me get into a smaller pant size, he taught me how to believe in myself. Belief is why I succeeded. Not the burpees, push-ups, hill sprints…I believed in myself. Nothing got in the way of my daily exercise. I remember when Carter told me that he wanted to see my every day and not just M, W, F. I started training M-F and even some Saturdays. I was learning how to be healthy and becoming healthy all at once. It was incredibly satisfying! I would leave the gym at noon every day and immediately call my Mom to tell her how sick and twisted my trainer was that particular day. Some days I honestly thought he was trying to kill me! It was tough, but it was working! I lost my first 100 lbs. in about 8 or 9 months. People were noticing and taking an interest in my life. That was an unfamiliar feeling. I was even being recognized at work for my journey. I wasn’t used to positive attention, but it felt great. Carter taught me that I wasn’t meant to be the “fat guy”. We aren’t pre-destined for anything. I was overweight because of years of unhealthy choices. I had no “condition”. I hadn’t lived a healthy life for 30+ years and my body was the visual proof of those poor choices. With addictions comes the ability to resist them. Except that my addiction is not something you can just quit. It’s a pretty key component of the life process. So, that said, I needed to learn a new way to fly. I began to treat my body like that gift I mentioned earlier. Today, more than eight years later, I’ve lost 175lbs. and continue to train with him daily. Thank you Carter.