Last month I turned 29. I may be getting older, but weighing 100 pounds less than I was a few years ago, I feel like I’m starting a whole new life. What a roller coaster ride my twenties have been!
I used to play D-3 football at Austin College in Sherman, TX. When I showed up as a freshman, 6' and 235 pounds, it was easily the heaviest I'd ever been (up until that point). I spent the year leading up to that doing my best to put on weight in hopes of having enough size to hold my own against the much larger-than-most high school athletes. I didn't know the first thing about nutrition and most of the weight I gained was from eating large amounts of junk food.
Needless to say, the extra weight I gained didn't do much to help me on the field. I played sparingly and near the end of the season I injured my knee. When I got back to Houston for the holiday break, I learned I'd need surgery in order to repair the damage. The injury was not acute; it was essentially years of wear and tear from being overweight and playing sports for a decade and a half. My orthopedist said I could continue to play, but that I would continue to experience moderate to severe pain and possibly suffer an acute tear if I didn’t lose weight and take care of my body. At this point, I made a choice. And no… it’s not the one you’d typically expect to hear at this part of the story.
Rather than attempting to come back harder and make something of myself, I chose to give up. Over the next three years I started drinking heavily and abused the pain medication that was prescribed for my knee. I lost financial aide for college after being placed on academic probation. I eventually dropped out of school, moved home, and continued spiraling out of control… firmly under the heel of drug and food addiction.
On May 5th, 2009, my life changed. Through what I believe to be divine inspiration, I had a moment of clarity that led me to enter an alcohol & drug rehabilitation center in Houston. After staying a few weeks and getting some much-needed therapy, I finished up the stay in rehab and resumed normal life. I re-enrolled in school at the University of Houston and started trying to get back on track. While I have maintained my sobriety without relapse since the day I entered treatment, my eating and health choices were still very poor. I ate so much fast food & candy, smoked cigarettes, and drank far too many energy drinks. By September 2010, I was all the way up to 278 pounds!
Starting that month, I made a new commitment: to get healthy! I remember hitting my proverbial rock bottom, one day in particular, when I looked in the mirror and realized that even without drugs and alcohol I was still slowly killing myself. The time to change was now. I started by purchasing an at-home workout program and just about every nutritional supplement I could find. I had a buddy commit to training with me, and we went at it with all we had. Sure enough, I started losing weight at an astronomical rate… nearly 60 pounds in the first 3 months!
As I figured out more about what type of exercises my body responded well to, I also learned a lot about nutrition. Turns out I didn't need hundreds of dollars worth of supplements. Instead, I kept a few key supplements in my diet as well as adding my newfound favorite: Quest Bars. With a sweet tooth as big as mine, it was such a wonderful feeling to be able to eat Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars without taking in much sugar at all. It was the first time I truly enjoyed a protein bar!
In the last three years especially, many more things have changed. I branched out with my exercise program to incorporate bodybuilding, high intensity interval training, yoga, and massage therapy. A complete career change has led to my own food sales brokerage and consulting firm in Houston, where I help provide quality health choices to many local establishments, including schools and hospital systems. I’m married to a truly incredible woman and have a beautiful daughter who turns 2 next May. I always keep a box of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars in my car for post-workout (and in case of a sweet tooth emergency). Looking back on things, at the end of my 20s and where I am today… I've never been healthier, happier, or more fulfilled in my entire life!
Almost everyone older than me in my family tree deals with health problems daily; high blood pressure, bad cholesterol levels, diabetes, all are prevalent. While I know that eating well and exercising isn't a cure-all, it gives me significant peace of mind knowing I've put the odds in my favor by changing the few factors that are within my control. My weight went from 278 down to 172, which was my leanest. Over the last few years it has been gaining muscle weight, and I've made it up to 192 consistently staying between 10% to 15% body fat. I feel good knowing my daughter will see that I put in the effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle, an example of what can be done with a little bit of resolve and a lot of sweat. I hope it's an example she can aspire to and pass along to those around her in her future. My wife and I hope to have another child before the end of 2016, so my daughter will have a brother or sister to lead by example.