By the age of 16 years, I was 380lbs... ​

I will never forget my first trip to Kings Dominion Amusement park. I was so excited to be there, my cousin and I had planned to ride every ride would. As we got onto the first roller coaster, I tried to pull down the safety bar that latches you into the ride. No matter how hard I shoved or sucked in, it wouldn’t close. The ride attendants came over to secure the ride but were also unsuccessful.  

I will never forget my first trip to Kings Dominion Amusement park. I was so excited to be there, my cousin and I had planned to ride every ride would. As we got onto the first roller coaster, I tried to pull down the safety bar that latches you into the ride. No matter how hard I shoved or sucked in, it wouldn’t close. The ride attendants came over to secure the ride but were also unsuccessful.

Initially, I did not realize that the safety bars were all connected. So if one wouldn’t close, neither would the others. Eventually, I walked off the ride, forcing me to endure the snickering of the other park patrons. This was a defining moment where I realized my weight was negatively affecting my life. The only problem was that I didn’t know what to do about it. So I cried silently and died slowly inside while putting on a facade to the world that I was okay.

 

I grew up a chubby kid. My mom, despite how I looked, would affectionately call me handsome and I always felt loved. A mother’s love is truly beautiful and shields you from a lot of harm as a child. However, at some point, that shield lost its power and reality hit me…..HARD.
The summer after graduation, I dedicated myself to the gym. At X (age), it was amazing to see the weight shed off so quickly and within just a year, I successfully lost 100lbs on my own. I felt accomplished, and it seemed like doors that were always closed were now open. As a student athlete, playing football at Rowan University and working out was part of my job and helped me keep the weight off for four years. I was more active – but fitness was still not apart of my lifestyle.

In 2002, football was over and the requirement of working out ceased. As it did, the weight started to creep back onto my body. First, it was 5lbs, then 20 lbs., and before I know it I was back at over 350lbs. As the weight came back, so did something else. This feeling that I was so accustomed to as a child; sadness, the feeling of wanting to stay in dark rooms so that the world couldn’t see me, and streams of constant tears.

In my youth, I didn’t recognize that to be depression, but as an adult it was clear. I don’t think I will ever know if my battle with depression and anxiety caused my weight gain, or if my obesity caused my depression. What I was certain of was that I would battle both for the rest of my life and that I was more than equipped to handle it. And in time, I would realize that I was both passionate and equipped to help others in the same battles in their lives.

I committed to making a change in my life. I began to educate myself about healthy eating and body transforming workouts. I was my first client. I trained both my body and mind. I worked my way down to the current weight of 225lbs. I have competed and won CrossFit and Strongman competitions. Ran obstacle course races such as the Spartan Race and safely kept off the weight. Fitness of body and wellness of mind are not my lifestyle; It is just my life. Guiding as many people down that same path is my passion and my purpose.

 

Over the past five years, I have trained over 100 people, 3 of which lost over 100lbs, owned my fitness studio, conducted workshops on healthy eating, and given speeches about my life and the link between depression and obesity. Each week, I prepare intensive and specialized clients for all of my clients. Through my experiences, I have realized that everyone’s journey will be different and difficult. I desire to continue to be an example to everyone who sees me or hears my story, that no matter the difficulty, the journey is worth taking- because the destination is the life you want to live, not the life the weight causes you to live.

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