Archive for the ‘Life’ category

The Story: Chapter 4

February 2, 2007

Chapter 4: Summer Break & New Clothes
Dated Covered: May 2002- Mid Aug 2002

My first summer break had finally arrived. Honestly I was just ready for a break, from school. Freshman year had proven, to be quite the experience, so much happened. I meet so many people that would affect me so much later in life, it’s unreal. Enough about school, let’s move to summer break.

See I’m from rural North Carolina, Five years ago my hometown got a Viquest Fitness Center, think of it as a Small, but fully equipped Gold’s Gym. So there was no where for me to workout when I went home on weekend or in this case my summer break. Oh how I long to be back in my college town, not just for the gym, but for the atmosphere and the people. For the first few weeks, I just laid around the house. Stayed up late, slept long, etc. I also was back home with Grandma’s fried cooking which is bad(love you GRANNY). Added on top of this, I had nothing to occupy my time with all day. I began to regress into my old habits, before college. My mom and I tried to weaken the blow. She did buy turkey, wheat bread and stuff, but, most of the meals where home cooked.

I did more and more reading during the summer about nutrition and working. I was steady increasing my knowledge base. I read about diet ratios of macro-nutrients, which still at the time, didn’t really mean much to me. I discovered new exercises that I could so at home, with basic items, such as books and anything that had a little weight. Try doing Lat Raises (hold the book by side and bring it up to shoulder height) with the A or M Encyclopedia, that’s hard core.. LOL.

Well with every school term, comes serveral rituals. Buying school, supplies, books, and yes CLOTHES.  It was time to order new clothes. I was somewhat excited.  I was now a 42-44 in the waist, and had dropped down to where a 2XL was a little to big, but a XL wasn’t quite big enough. It was a good time, we didn’t have much money, so I ordered as cheaply as possible. It didn’t care where it came from, as long as it would fit and looked nice.

About mid June, I went to work for Perduce Farms INC. I would be my first “REAL” job ever. It wasn’t by choice really, I had been turn-down by every other place around town, and well this was it. Not to Mention my mom worked there, and ensured me, if I wanted a job, I would get it. Purdue was hard-work, very hard work. Standing up for 8hours on my feet, processing chickens. Not as gross as it sounds, but still never the less, traumatizing. (1 of the reasons I don’t eat fried CHICKEN). I only worked for 7 weeks at Purdue. I had to leave because school was starting in a week. Perdude was good. I kept me from snacking all day. Also I only had 20mins for Lunch, So i really didn’t have time to eat anything, but maybe a nab and a soda.

Well 2 weeks before, it was time for me to leave Purdue, an event occur in my life, that has truly impacted my life. On a Wed night, my mother was in a terrible car accident; a head on collision. A Lady called and said that my mother had car trouble, and that I should come and see about her. I hoped in the car, and drove about 25 miles outside of town. I pull up on the highway, and saw that traffic was backed up. I sat in the car, and weight for about 10mins before, getting out of the car. I stepped out of the car, and made my way towards the fuss. I wanted to see what was going on. I walked up for about a quarter of a mile, and that’s when in the distance I saw my mother’s car, turned sideways, against a barrier. I took off in a run, and rushed to my mother. I couldn’t even make it all the way, without running out of breath and becoming tired. Only God knows how I felt, not being able to make to my mother, who needed me more then, that ever before. I finally made it to the scene, and found my mother in the ambulance, screaming…Anywho, she wasn’t in any immediate danger or fatally wounded. She ended up with a broken and crushed hip. Although permanently disabled, but that’s another story. I speeded back to the car and took off after the ambulance. I can say that I hit 120 MPH, that night, trying to catch up with my mother. All while during the drive I was in tears, I vowed, from that moment on, that I would never ever have trouble running again. It was guilty motivation, . I didn’t ever want to be helpless again, I wanted to be ready for any situation that could arise.  I would enter the NEW semester, with FRESH MOTIVATION.

Find Something New, Something You

January 23, 2007

Everyone needs a fresh start sometimes, a jump start if you will and sometimes the best way to do that is just trying something Unusual orsomething new. Regardless, if you’re just starting or you’re seasoned pro, I would suggest finding something new for you to try. Pick up activity and new sport, a new game, a new hobby, maybe a new name.   

It would suggest that it be something physical, but hey it doesn’t have to. Maybe you could pick up puzzles, or building, singing, or maybe just volunteer.  Change is good, variety is great. Doing new things gives opens many doors for you. Now before I start to sounds like one of those overtly, nauseating,  self-motivation tapes, I’ll throw myself in the picture. 

I never played sports in throughout school, or for the town leagues.  I did play around with neighborhood kids and family members, but never a REAL sport. It wasn’t until I reached college, that I found my sport.  What was my sport? I took up Fencing.  It was fun, I enjoyed it, it was great for weight-loss,  most of all it was different.  DON”Tbe afraid to try something because you think you CAN’T do it.

Taken from “The Story: Chapter 2” 

I found fencing fun. While it was physically taxing, it didn’t involved running, … especially like the constant kind found in basketball and football.  For me fencing was size friendly I actually had a winning chance. It’s a gentlemen’s sport, so the rules can always play in your favor, and it’s a game of offense and defensive. In my case a strong defense can lead to victory.”

 Even as a big heavy guy, I discovered that I could fence. Even though on TV or the Olmypics, fencers were always these tiny lighting fast bodies. You’d be surprised.

Another thing I picked up was Running, something I once hated, with all heart’s content. It gave me a chance to get out of the gym.  I won’t elaborate much on running, as of now, because it’s a huge part of my life right now and has been for the past year and half, and it derves it’s own post. 

As of late I’ve begin  to pick up Dancing. I love it, It feels good to move across the floor.  If someone told me I would be salsa dancing, or emulating the latest Justin Timberlake song,  5 years, ago, I would have laughed, and asked them to share whatever they were smoking. It’ fun, yet hard. That’s part of the excitement, learning the steps, pushing your body and staying in tune with others around you.

I briefly picked up Painting for a while. I found it very de-stressing. Nothing big, a few blank surfaces, some brushes and acrylic paint and I was all set.  Become in tune with the strokes and color. It’s fun, simple, and easy.

The possibilities are endless. Try yoga there are many types, try racquetball, maybe volleyball.  Some people have found joy in rock climbing or canoeing. Have you consider horseback riding, karate, what about art, painting, clay molding.  When it’s good for the mind, it’s good for the soul. Open up, try something new, something You.

The Story: Chapter 2

January 21, 2007

Chapter 2: A New Sport
Dates Covered: Jan 2002 – Mar 2002

After returning from a great and relaxing Christmas break, it was time to get back on the grind. It was a brand new year, a brand new semester, and with that a new schedule. I mentioned this because this caused a change in my workout and eating styles.

I’m all about maximizing time and energy. I used to get on everyone’s nerves about my time and promptness. Always asking how long?, when?, until what time?. I lived in the community called College Hill which is considered to be away from everything that happens on campus. Central and West Campus is where all of the classrooms, another dinning hall, the Student Rec Center(SRC), the Student Union, are located. To help you gauge distance, from my Dorm to the Student Union was about 12 min-17 min and I walked fast. So in between classes I never returned to my room during the day. With the 18 semester hours, (including 3 hour labs, that only count as 1 semester hour), a part-time job at the library, I couldn’t return, even if I wanted to. Not to mention nearly all of my friends lived on West Campus. This is ground work for later.

Remember all of those issues of Men’s Health magazines, I read while in high school? Over Christmas break I went hunting for them around the house. They talked about being well rounded, so I broke, my trend decided that I would start working my arms, nothing else. The mini gym in the basement has a bicep curl machine, that, deemed safe. When I was on the bike, I keep staring at the bicep machine, dreading it. This guy, whom I had seen in the building, hopped on the machine, and start curling. Now this guy, look pretty average, skinny by my comparsion, and I couldn’t help but the notice how much weight he was lifting. It was only about 35 lbs. I was shocked that he was lifting so little. So after working my legs, I waited around, till the machine was clear, and made my way over to the bicep machine. I began to curl roughly about 20-25 lbs. The movement was harder than I expected but, not as bad as I once thought it would be. I was happy with the weight I could do, after comparing myself to the guy earlier. I repeated this process during several workouts, always making sure the coast was clear, before making my move. I didn’t want people saying look at the big guy, yet’s he’s so weak. People always equate big, with strong, or tough among other things, and that’s not always the case. If I had a buck for evertime, I’ve been asked, “Did/do you play football?”, I’d be writing this story from some tropical island.

Class.. Ahh Spring of 2002. There was this girl(people there’s always a girl involved somewhere right) in my Biology 1100, class, who I can honestly say was my first college crush(3rd one of my life.. EVER….EVER). Her name was Cassandra Parker, and we all called her CeCe. She would smile at me and speak. She was just really nice, nice to me anyways. One weekend she called and asked me for Biology notes, because she had missed class. I of course being the nerd I am, told her that I had indeed taken notes and that she could borrow them. It stopped there, I didn’t press any further just yet. I’ll honestly say this now, I was never motivated to lose weight for someone(girl, parents etc), besides myself. I didn’t daydream about CeCe, but I did occasionally think what it would be like to have a girlfriend. I knew I had to stay steadfast in my working out and eating.

Well the building next to us was getting renovated, and the with renovations, there was talk of the brand new mini gym being built. They wanted to turn our current gym into a rec room, instead of weights there would pool table and fooseball. They wanted to destroy my gym. Well I became preparing myself for change. I was going to try to work out at the SRC. It was a Tues. or Wed, I really can’t remember, but one of my classes had been canceled, so I used the extra time to workout early. The SRC was a new building only about 6 years old at the time. With two floors of fitness fun, indoor pool and track, how could one resist right? I came dressed of course, like, I was going to change in the locker room..haha good one. Hard to teach a dog new tricks. I went straight for the bike and familiar leg machines, looking for my comfort zone. It was quite an experience, I just wasn’t used to working out with so many other people around, in such a big place. I felt as if the gym had swallowed me, and wanted out. I ended my workout, faster than usual, grabbed my stuff and left the SRC. I wanted to go back to MY little gym, downstairs in the basement, my safe zone.

In the meanwhile, I began changing my diet yet again. I picked up other great tips from those old Men’s Health. I re-read most of the articles again, paying closer attention to details. I discovered that Bagels and Juice were not so healthy for me. Bagels I could let go no problem, but Juice!!!. OJ was my morning coffee and Apple Juice was my night cap. For one week, I poured out half of the juice from the bottle and fill the rest with water, shook it up and tried to wane myself off of juice, and before I knew I had let juice go..completely. Along with the new schedule, I wasn’t eating breakfast before class at 8:00Am, but rather around 9:00AM. Me and bunch of class buddies would gather every WMF, and eat at Wright Place. Your typical on campus hangout. Most mornings I would get a sausage egg and cheese biscuit, bottle water and sometimes a Nature Valley’s bar(those hard ones). No the best of breakfast by today’s standards, but a solid one; Protien, Carb, Calcium, etc, just not the best sources. Also during Lunch I eased up on the cookies, knocked them back down to 2 instead of three. Also during dinner I stopp getting the veggie buggers. They were just to greasy from the frying, even if they were veggie.

One of my lab TA’s, Jennifer had mentioned to me that she fenced. She explained that it was a club sport on campus and that anyone could join, and the club only had a few members. Well she mentioned Exrta Credit,(a college student’s third favorite word next Free or Cheap). It didn’t take much from her to convince me to come and try it out. So one sunday afternoon, I made my way to the SRC, and found the fencing club upstairs. Jen was right there were only 3 other people fencing. Scott the instructor began showing me the basic stance and how to hold the blade. He then instructed to me try on a uniform. My heart sanked. I was nervous that none of the uniforms were going to fit me. To my delight, there was a jacket that I could fit into. I found fencing fun. While it was physically taxing, it didn’t involved running, something I hated, downright despised, especially like the constant kind found in basketball and football. For me fencing was size friendly I actually had a winning chance. It’s a gentlemen’s sport, so the rules can always play in your favor, and it’s a game of offense and defensive. In my case a strong defense can lead to victory. Fencing will come to play an instrumental role later in my life, both as a weight-loss tool and as an avenue to personal development.

I began going to fencing practice every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon. All the extra work on my legs from fencing was paying off. First of all, I began to really and truly SEE the difference in my body. My pants were becomin loose and well for the first time in a long time, I actually needed a belt. I was stabbing and jabbing and getting a good arm workout as well. My shirts didn’t feel like they were hugging every inch of my body. Also coming to fencing practice, got me used to coming in the SRC. Little did I know but I was becoming accustomed to visiting the gym. After fencing practice I started becoming very hungry and at the time, I didn’t understand my post-workout needs as far as nutrition, well get to that later, much later. I would hurry back to the room and snack on whatever food I had, normally a Jello-Fruit cup or something. Well I had become tired of the Wednesday rush of trying to get from class, eat, and make it back to the SRC for fencing practice. I decided I would bring clothes in the morning when I left College Hill, then I could eat at the dining hall on Central campus and just walk next door to the SRC for practice. This worked much better and soon Wed. became Mon, Tues Thur soon before I knew I was in the SRC 5 days aweek. I would leave my room at 7:40am only to return back around 9 or 10pm. I would do my little group of exercises and I was content. By this time February was just about to end and spring break was in two weeks(It came so early that year) and well the gym got really crowded and one day I went to go work out and something happen that I wasn’t prepared for. All of the bikes were being used. Little did I know that is strange event, would change my workout forever…

Conquering the Big Bad Mean Gym

January 19, 2007

I know the gym can be an intimidating place. For some it’s the crowds, for others the machines and the lack of know-how, for some it’s being around muscleheads and thin bodies, and for other it’s what I call the comparison syndrome. Most people will tell you to suck it up and just go, but for those that know me, I’m not going to do that. I’ll explain how I overcame all three of these things and offer the best advice I can.

Let’s reverse the Order

#1. Machines/Weights and Lack of Know-How
When you finally get to the gym, most people freak out, because it all seems so overwhelming. Do I do free weights? machines? Do do I work that machine? You’ve got to start small or easy and work your way up. It’ll all come together.

Taken from The Story: Chapter 1
“I’ll be honest, when I first started in the Gym, I was scared and timid…. so I started where, and with something I felt comfortable with; Working my Legs, the area where most guys neglect, and I found my beginning.”

That’s exactly what you have todo. Find your nitch, or safe spot, your zone. Some people feel safe on the treadmill, others on the track, for me it was the bike. It was something I could do, something I already knew how to do. I could tune everything else out. Also don’t be afraid to ask someone for a little help, especially a trainer. That’s what they are paid to do. Asking could save you from wasted time and a possible injury. I promise, it may seem embarrassing to ask, but they spend more time laughing and talking about people doing exercises wrong more so than who needed help. Confidence will spread, there I still exercises that I “waited” years to try/evolved to.

2. Muscleheads and ThinBodies. Sure there are going to be people of all fitness levels in the gym. Some big some small, etc. Don’t let these people get next to you. Don’t sit back and say, I’ll never look like this, I’ll never be that thin, or that strong etc. You may be embarrassed to walk in front of them or say excuse me. Musclesheads can be scary. Some guys still intimidate me, physically. Just stand your ground.  They have the bodies we want for one reason(besides good genes) the one thing they share, is a goal,  a mission. That’s exactly what you need. First you need an over all goal. Fat Loss, Muscle Gain, Over all Fitness.. etc. Then you go in with a set of exercises that you think will help you accomplish your goal. Never enter the gym without a plan.

Soon after I graduated to the “Real” gym, I started giving myself upper body days and lower body days. Nothing to specific.–What I do, now is I keep a workout journal. I take it with me to the gym. I know what body parts, what exercises I’m doing on what days. How much weight I should use and such. You’d be surprise how much time you can save, and how more focused you are, when you plan.

3.Compasion Syndrome(CS) – When you finally get comfortable, being around those thing bodies and muscleheads from #2, CS kicks in, if it hadn’t already. First there’s the top level of CS. She’s thin, I’m big. Why is she even here? He’s huge, I’m tiny. etc. You’ve got to look past everyone else. They could be struggling with body image issues, just on another level. They could be former”heavy weights”, staying persistent. You never know, that’s why it’s best to ignore them. The 2nd level of CS comes from closer level of comparsion. I’m doing bicep curls with 20’s he’s doing bicep curls with 45’s. He’s makes me look weak.. Don’t sink. People have different goals when it comes to lifting weights. Some lift for strength, some life for size, some for endurance. Unless you’re paying close attention and counting his reps(which you SHOULD NOT BE), you don’t know how’s he training. If’s he’s only doing 5 reps and you’re doing 10 reps, you both are pretty even, even though it look like he’s doing more weight. We just talked about goals. If your focused on your goal, you’re be fine. It’ll feel good one day when you on the upper section of the rack, if that’s where you’re headed.

4. The Crowds..- Ok even this still freaks me out. I hate a crowded gym. I just can’t concentrate on what I’m doing, even with Ipod in hand. There’s not to much I can do, here, except advise you to find low times at the gym. Early morning, Lunch and Late Nights seems to be the best. 4:00pm-7pm seems to be the worst. I’m a Lunch time, kinda of person. If you can’t get there during any other time, just try your best. I’ll be working on a post, I called the “Crowded Gym Survival Guide”

Lastly, I understand that everyone’s lifestyle does not permit them to go to the gym, rather it be time restraints, family obligations or finicanial reasons.  I have not forgot about you. I don’t want to tell you to just by some home gym equipment and to walk.  Your post is coming, I promise.

The Story: Chapter 1

January 19, 2007

Chapter 1: A New Day
Dates Covered: Oct 25 2001-Dec 2001

I put down my tray and walked out of the dinning hall, went back to my dorm room and began to think about the task before hand. The rest of my life was before me. I was determined that tomorrow was going to be another day, a different day. I was going to eat better and after class I was going to workout. Fortunately for me my dorm had a small mini gym in the basement. Nothing too big, maybe around 500 SQ. It had 2 bikes, 3 legs machine, 2 arm machines, and a bench etc. This would be my stepping stone, before making my way to the real gym on campus.

I’ll be honest, when I first started in the gym, I was scared and timid. I was 18 and had never really lifted weights before.  I didn’ want people laughing at me while I struggled to lift the weight. I knew I couldn’t bench press or curl any real weight, so I started where, and with something I felt comfortable with; Working my Legs, the area where most guys neglect, and where I found my beginning. The leg machines worked as a protective covering for my lack of upper body strength. I was able to build the mentality “I”m working out, which is better than nothing, and better most”

For nearly a month, the only exercises I preformed where the Leg Extension, Lying Leg Press, and I cycled on the bike. All of these legs machines, worked my poor body to death, I mean I sweated like a “Whore in Church on Sunday”. I also made a promise to myself that I would no longer take the bus around campus, that I would walk everywhere. With the walking around campus, lugging those heavy books, and did I mention I lived on the 4th floor, with no elevator I began to shed a few pounds. The funny thing is I didn’t know I was losing weight. I didn’t have a scale. I couldn’t feel a bit of difference in my size 50 jeans, but at 350lbs, I couldn’t SEE or FEEL the difference, even if change was occurring.

Simultaneously while all of this is going on, my diet changed drastically. Today I would consider the new foods, I changed to be a bad way to eat, but it was a move forward. I stopped eating fast food, no more McDonald’s, Burger King etc. I gave up regular soda and changed to diet. I stopped eating candy and fried & battered foods, above all french fries. I didn’t go cold turkey, but the changes came quick and they came fast. Hey I was paying for a Meal Plan, so I decided use it to it’s optimal potential. With no stove or kitchen in my dorm, it was going to take a combined effort of campus food, and groceries for me to start eating better. So what did I eat, you’re wondering by now, right?

Going Shopping I would buy:
Bagels, Jello-fruit cups, rice cakes, fat-free chocolate pudding, bottle water, Baked Lays, Bananas, yogurt, Hawaiian Punch. I stayed away from the common college meals: The Easy-Mac, Ra-men Noodles, Hot Pockets, Pop-tarts etc.
Campus: Largly Dependent on the Dinning Hall

Breakfast -Meat+ Egg&Cheese biscuit, plus Juice or Breakfast Bar + Juice
Lunch: Turkey on wheat with Lettuce, cheese, no spread, cucumbers, salads-no dressing, A veggie of some sort, and some cookies. Would also get turkey or veggie burgers once in a while.
Dinner: If the entree involved things like Salisbury steak,  meatloaf, fish, I’d go for that, along with veggies, salads, if not, then it was turkey on wheat again
Brunch on the weekends: Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, cucumbers, chicken nuggets and yogurt.
Me and my friends would go out to eat at a restaurant once week, and I would try my best just to eat good.

During this time, I was still very insecure with my body and very very self conscious about it. I was so ashamed my body that I would be drag all of my clothes to the community showers and get dressed in the stall. Even though I had a robe, I didn’t want to walk down the hall, and I didn’t want to change in front of my room mate, whom I had grown up with since we were like 8 years old. Sometimes being so sleepy with having all 8 o’clock classes I would forget my clothes and have to come back to the room after the shower and change. My roommate would still be sleeping, but I would stay as quiet as possible, and get dressed nearly in the dark, with hopes of him not waking up and seeing me. I didn’t even like the way I looked in my workout clothes, which were just sweats and an old tee.

Class time was interesting, the Nerd inside of me, caused me to sit third row center from the front. Even though we had stadium seating, my people casually joke, “Justin I can’t see the screen”, even though they two large projection screens were on the sides of the lecture hall. I know what you’re thinking, those aren’t very nice, but in all seriousness, they didn’t really pick on me at all. We all studied together and it was just their personalities. One of the guys would be my roommate in 3 years, and the other one would become a really close friend. They both, still deny saying those things, and say with a guilty grin ” I just don’t remember you being that big, honestly”. We still laugh about it today.

Coupled with the fact that by now the semester was ending, I was SOOOO STRESSED. I was too worried about my first set of Final Exams as a college freshman. Normally I would have stressed out and ate more than usually, but I was so stressed I couldn’t really keep anything down. Besides the intake of more sodas than usual, I don’t remember eating too bad. I was just ready for it to be all over and just wanted to go home. By the time exams has ended(it was a long two weeks), I saw the first signs of my my efforts, one of my shirts(3XL-4XL) didn’t feel as snug as it did before…

The Story: The Preface

January 19, 2007

This is The Story, My story, My testiment. This tale chronicles my life after the soul-awakening epiphany I had as a college freshman, and the events there after. You’ll learn how through hard work and presistence,  I lost over 140lbs in roughly 3 years and with determination how I’ve kept it off and now have become a steadily increasing althele, especially in the field of running.

This is an intimate look and journey into my life, my experiences and struggles. I’m going to share somethings that I have either never shared before or only shared with a select few. With that comes a sense of vulnerability I’m willing to expose myself to, I feel if I can inspire one person, or just help change one person’s life in a positive way, then I’ll feel that it’s worth it.

I’ll write this story as best as I can remember, and with pure honestly.  Truthly I recall most of it, like it was yesterday.  I’ve been ask so many times, I’ve spoken to several groups and held several programs, but I’ve never given the whole story, and I don’t know if I can.  I say that not because of painful memories, or lack of memory, I can’t explain it at the moment, but I’m just unsure. I’ll go ahead and admit some of the posts might be long, but we are talking about five years here. I’ll do my best, that’s all I can give and that’s all of me that you can ask.

I’m writing this because I don’t want YOU to have to do this alone. I hope that while you read or by the end, that you will be given a refreshness that you need or maybe an awakening of your own in your life. I wish nothing but the best for everyone.  Please remember when you

 Take My Hand

I Promise I Won’t Let Go…