Archive for the ‘The Story’ 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.


The Story: Chapter 3

January 26, 2007

Chapter 3: A New Machine
Date Covered: March 2002

With no bikes, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I looked around and there was this machine. At the time honestly I didn’t know it was called the Elliptical. I had seen people on it before. It looked like a more tortuous version of the ski machine. With nothing else left really to choose from I hopped on. After taking a moment to decipher the alien technology, I began performing what I thought was one of the most unnatural movements, I had taken part in ever. I lasted 6 minutes and 36 seconds, before I was tried, exhausted and covered in sweat. The elliptical had won  the battle that day. Although I only lasted for a short time on the elliptical I was more so impressed by the amount of calories I had burned in the short duration. I can’t remember the numbers, it it was nearly the same amount of calories, that it would have taken me 20-22 mins to burn on the bike.

The elliptical, changed the way I worked out. I fell in the love with the machine, and soon by the time May rolled around, I was going at for 30mins, buring generally 400 calories, way way more than I was buring on either of the bikes. I just selected the Hill or Interval program, and went to work.  The huge amount of calorie caused big change.   I had also altered my weight lifting program. I was now doing the simple arm exercises with the machines, like the bicep burl and the triceps push down, and began to you the chest press machine. So I would have an uppers body day, and a lower body day, and do cardio on the Upper body days.  I was now getting a much better overall workout. Even though I was neglecting major part parts shoulder, back, etc, and did so for a LOONG time. The weight just began to melt off. I dropped about 15 lbs between March and to the end of the semester in early May.  My butt shrunk, I swear it did, it made my hips much smaller.

My diet didn’t really change much from the previous months. I just kept everything in check. I wasn’t counting calories or counting grams of marconutrients. I was eating as healthy as I could at moment and just hoped for the best. I was still sticking to no fast food, no pizza, no soda, etc.

For the first time in years, I was actually looking forward to a little shopping. Around April my friends and I went to the mall.  Though as a broke college student I wasn’t able to buy much, it felt extremely good, to buy newer clothes, smaller clothes.  No longer being the 3XL-4XL, I was now a 2XL sized guy. My waist size was now roughly around 44. I had dropped about 6 pant sizes in 6 months.  I charted in stores, that I had always wanted to go in and shop, but usually didn’t carry my size.  I felt so liberated not to have to shop at the Big and Tall, or Asian Boutiques.  I can’t explain how good it felt just to make it into the dressing room and have the ability to TRY ON clothes.  I dress very neat and preppy. Ok heck, I’ll just be blunt here, this is my story. I don’t didn’t wear, typical “black” clothing.  It just wasn’t my style. So now I was able to shop at places like the Gap and Aeropostale. Place that carry a few bigger sizes. I still wasn’t small enough for the American Eagle, Abercombie & Fitch clothes, which at the time, I thought was the epitome of clothing and great body image. It was all about status, both physical and socially.  It was sorta like, you have enough money to afford this, and have a body that can fit into them.  I ended purchasing two shirts,  a pair of shorts. Some of my regular clothes where somewhat baggy now, but I just made due.

Near the end of the semester Scott, Adam and Justin, announced that they were all leaving ECU. They asked me and fellow member Keith to run the fencing club. They explained how they had worked very hard getting the club sport at the university and they didn’ want to see it die out, so Keith and I gladly took over the positions, as president and treasurer respectively, which were the only two positions that every club sport had to have. 

The semester was ending. It was time for exams again. With stress levels rising, I tried my best to eat as best I could. But with super late night studing, sometimes you just have to do the best you can with what campus serves, which that late, isn’t very healthy. I was ready for summer. The only thing I had planned was to possibilty take a class a the community college, just to get ahead a bit and to ease my load next year.

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…

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…