By: Chris Schouten
I had been very unhappy with myself for years, avoiding the scale at all costs, accepting that failure was just how it was going to be.
I wasn't always that way. There was a time people looked to me for strength and courage. As a US Marine in the Gulf War, I had to be strong and capable. But somewhere along the way I lost it.
There I was, recovering from my 5 th surgery in the last 6 years. With another medication to add to the 18 I already take. My weight, an obvious elephant in the room... The surgery was an excuse I could use to justify the number they wrote down on my discharge papers: 362 pounds. Type II diabetes and dangerously high cholesterol levels.
I was trying desperately to avoid the dark road I'd been down many times before. It was the one that led me to my lowest place, a suicide attempt just 6 years earlier.
The harsh reality was this: Staying at this weight would mean not seeing my kids graduate, not walking my daughter down the aisle, there would no raising a glass with my son on his 21 st birthday and losing every day with my best friend and love of my life… my wife.
The doctor told me I would need 6 weeks to recover from the surgery. I gave it 5 weeks and decided enough was enough.
At that point I was involved with a local non-profit veteran group (Continue Mission) that was working with a Bootcamp training gym that helped disabled veterans through his program. I decided this was my best bet at getting the support I needed to tackle my goal.
The first week of training was more than enough proof that I was way out of shape. Forget trying to set goals, I was just trying to survive. Then things got real simple…
Goal number one: don’t quit! Goal number two: don’t quit! This seemed to be the only thing I could think about for that first week and it was working. I made it through my first week of training.
For the first time in a long time, I began to realize that maybe I could do this. I am in control, I don’t have to give up and resort back to the person I despised.
I was tempted to set unrealistic goals. Thinking how magically the pounds would just fall off and I would wake up tomorrow 100 pounds lighter. I had to keep myself grounded and not let this get the best of me. My doctor had scheduled me for a follow-up appointment in 3 months and that became my first real goal. Blood tests would not lie.
Well the day had come and blood was drawn, “36 pounds down” the doc said. But as I walked around the office feeling like I was strolling on a cloud, nothing could prepare me for the news to come. I was also diabetes free, yes free! My doctor was amazed and asked how I did this. The answer was quite simple… good nutrition, supplementation and hard work in the gym!
I have just broken the 300 pound mark, 62 pounds lost- a feat that I never thought possible. My training has been taken to the next level and I've been pushing myself harder than ever before. That includes nightly interval sprints with a 40 pound weighted vest, a harsh reminder of where I came from, but motivates me like no other.
Even though I've come a long way, that's not to say I don't have days where I want to make excuses or quit.
I go back to my mantra that first week... 'Don’t Quit!' Did I really want to tell my kids about the time their dad almost committed to getting healthy. Or give them advice like “set goals, work hard, but when it gets tough just quit”. My wife grabbed me, looked into my eyes and simply said, “You got this!”
From that moment on I knew that this was way bigger than me, the impact was felt beyond the pounding of the heavy rope whips or the weight that sat on my shoulders on leg day. This was not just for me, but for them!
Just don’t give up! Don’t become the one who almost did it; find a way to always fight. Keep the non-gym time exciting. Keep your training new and fresh, setting new benchmarks and challenges. Keep your “fat” clothes and make sure to pull them out of the closet and put them on.
Seeing yourself everyday makes it hard to notice the changes you have made, but feeling those once tight clothes now draped on you like a circus tent, sure gives you the motivation and satisfaction that all the hard work is worth it.
Most of all keep your goals realistic and don’t be afraid to just go one day at a time. Just one more rep. Just one more step. Don't Quit.
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