It was just over a year ago this month that I decided to chase after one of my lifelong dreams – compete in a Bodybuilding competition. As I enter my peak week which means I’m less than one week away from my North American Natural Bodybuilding Federation (NANBF) debut, I’m taking a few moments to reflect on what led me here. I’ve always had an interest in fitness and nutrition with a special passion for weightlifting but where did it all begin? I’ve not always been where I am today. I’ve been fat, unhappy, and unconfident in the past and I’ve had my own ebbs and flows through life. I’m ready to tell you this story in my own words. I’ve decided to do a 6-part blog series of my fitness history, my journey to competition, and how my peak week is going. Let’s begin.
Let’s go back 15 or so years ago.
Looking back, I’ve never been the guy who excelled in sports that required finesse such as basketball or golf and it was my batting power that led me to success in baseball in my youth. It’s this concept of raw power and strength that I found myself being interested in and frankly – successful with. Since we didn’t have football or wrestling at my high school as I was growing up, I never felt as though I had an outlet for that style of fitness or sports… that’s until I found weight training.
It’s 2000 and I’m a young middle school student preparing to end my last school year before becoming a freshman and entering high school. I was overweight from years of eating sweets and snacks after school at my Grandparent’s house and then heading home where I would have another delicious meal with my parents.
It wasn’t so much what I was eating at the time but more how much I was eating. The result was that while I would not say I was obese, I was definitely overweight and most importantly – unhappy with my body image. Just a few years earlier, I had one of my most impacting childhood experiences when my loving mother took me to a regional track and field day with many of the local schools. While the reason we went was we believed it would be a fun experience and a chance for me to meet others in our area, it turned out to be a traumatic event in my eyes.
I remember expecting it to be like a day of recess or fun games.
I remember arriving to the event excited for a day of fun games and activities with my friends and others from the area. I had never been to a track and field day before so I remember expecting it to be like a day of recess or fun games. My vision of this was quickly changed when we pulled into the parking lot of the host school and I saw how many kids were there (none of which I knew), how many of them had dressed in complete athletic gear (I was not), and that the event was structured in such a way that the playground area I had so looked forward to enjoying had been converted into a plethora of individual challenges and demonstrations of individual skill (none of which I had prepared for). I remember clearly what the first event was – jump roping. I remember clearly walking up to the black asphalt outdoor basketball court at the school’s playground where everyone was preparing to start the event and being nervous but excited to enjoy the day with these kids I didn’t know. I remember grabbing the blue roped white handled light weight jump rope of my choosing and thinking “this one is perfect due to its light weight”. I remember the timer being set for the jump roping to begin – the anticipation and excitement – and then the buzz of the timer to begin the event.
It’s at this point my memories go from just memories to what I can only describe as vivid feelings, emotions, sounds, smells, and sensations that of which when I think about today transports me right back into my overweight middle school self. The buzzer buzzes, I breathe in the fresh but becoming humid air from the previous night’s rain, I hear the first slap of jump ropes beginning to hit the freshly laid asphalt, and then it happens – terror hits me. I don’t know how to jump rope. I’m not good at jump roping. Jump roping is not something I’ve practiced. I look over and see the other kids in full rotations with their jump ropes now and I attempt to replicate their motions. I attempt to have the same finesse and coordination as they do but I cannot achieve it. I can see the other kids looking at me as they continue to with rhythm jump, swing, jump, swing, jump swing as I struggle just to get the rope under my feet for a single swing. I can’t tell you much more about that day other than I know I attempted a few more of the challenges and ultimately ended up with similar results at them as well and Mom and I ended up going home early with me in tears and confidence broken.
Confidence broken. I want to take a moment and for you to think about what those two words mean to you. For me as a middle school kid, it meant I wasn’t confident in myself, my body, or my abilities and that event had gone far enough to tear out any confidence in those thing I had. While I can’t ever thank my parents enough for instilling constant encouragement and support in my life, the fact of the matter was that my confidence has been broken that day from the eyes of my middle school self. Looking back on that moment now, nearly 15 years later, I think I would re-word it to be Confidence awoken. On that day, I walked onto that track and field day as an unconfident boy, was emotionally impacted due to my own inabilities and I walked off knowing I would never allow myself be in that situation again. My confidence had been awoken. I was ready to take action, make decisions, and live a life that I would never feel like that again.
We’re headed to the year 2000 tomorrow when I take my first steps into the weight room and fitness in general. Check back tomorrow as my story continues in this 6-part blog series